Increasing Self-Esteem in Recovery
The Need for People in Recovery to Increase Self-Esteem
Individuals who suffer from low self-esteem struggle to find happiness away from their addiction. This is because their lack of self-worth will prevent them from putting any right effort into improving their life. The horrible truth is that deep down they do not feel that they are worth such effort. People only tend to get out of life what they put into it. Those individuals who are recovering from an addiction are likely to need to work on their self-esteem. It is also important that people avoid cultivating self-esteem that is too high, as this can also lead to problems in life.
Esteem can be defined as worth or value. Self-esteem then is a subjective value that people apply to themselves. It is closely related to self-worth. The two words can be used interchangeably. If people have high self-esteem, it means that they value themselves highly. Conversely, people with low self-esteems do not believe themselves to be worth that much.
Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem
When people have low self-esteem, it negatively affects their life. These are some of the symptoms of this negative self-appraisal:
* This type of person struggles with compliments. They judge them to be insincere. They seem to be only happy when they are putting themselves down.
* A person with low self-esteem will often be willing to put up with a great deal of abuse from other people. They can feel like they deserve to be treated badly.
* Those individuals who have low self-worth can really struggle to find happiness. Their low opinion of themselves means that they are willing to settle for very little. This type of individual will tend to be pessimistic and negative about everything. If people are prepared to accept the minimum from life, then this is all they will get.
* A person with low self-esteem struggles with relationships. They may have regular fits of jealousy and will be too needy. This can drive romantic partners away and make life hard for relatives. Such individuals will be willing to put up with abusive relationships because they do not believe they deserve any better.
* This type of person is easily manipulated by other individuals. This means that they are easy prey for dangerous cults and scam artists.
* Even when such people manage to achieve something good in their life, they still find it hard to feel satisfied.
* People with low self-worth are more likely to fall into addiction. Alcohol and drugs can temporarily make them feel good about themselves, but the effect is only short-lived. Once addiction takes hold, it robs every morsel of self-esteem from the individual. This is why so many become willing to keep drinking or drugging until they die or commit suicide.
* This type of person will be far more likely to suffer from depression and other mental health problems.
* A person with low self-worth will tend to have poor parenting skills.
* They will have unrealistically high expectations of others. This means that they frequently feel let down by others. A person with low self-esteem expects so much from other people and so little from themselves.
* Those with low self-worth tend to see the world in black and white. Everything is either right or wrong, and there are no gray areas. When the individual views the world in this way they are always ending up in conflict. This is because most things in life cannot be simplified to just black and white.
The Benefits of High Self-Esteem
High self-esteem can have a profound impact on a person’s life. These are some of the benefits:
* Such individuals will tend to have a positive view on life. It is generally accepted that those who are optimistic find life easier to manage.
* Somebody with high self-esteem will feel that they deserve to feel good and enjoy life. Those with low self-esteem can sabotage their own attempts to find happiness because they do not really feel they deserve it.
* People with high self-esteem have less need to try and escape reality. This means that alcohol and drugs are not such an attractive proposition. People who value themselves will not easily fall prey to addiction.
* These individuals will tend to avoid interpersonal conflicts. They are happy with their own life, so there is less need to showboat or fight for attention.
* When people value themselves, they can be of more use to other people.
Dangers of Excessively High Self-Esteem
Valuing oneself too highly can lead to problems life. These persons may be so narcissistic that they refuse to learn from their mistakes and have a disproportionate sense of entitlement. Narcissism can lead to unhappiness for other people, and narcissists become their own worst enemy. High self-esteem tempered with humility leads to more effective addiction recovery.
Addiction and Self-Esteem
One of the characteristics of an addictive personality is low self-esteem. This sense of low self-worth drives people into addiction in the first place. Initially, alcohol or drugs can make people feel more confident. It also reduces their concern about what other people think. For the substance abuser, this improvement in self-esteem is short-lived. The person becomes addicted, and their problems worsen. One way that alcoholics describe the situation is to say that alcohol gave me wings but then it took away the sky. Once the individual begins the downward spiral of addiction, their self-esteem sinks to new depths.
Self-Esteem in Recovery
If people continue to suffer from low self-esteem issues after they become sober, it will affect their ability to find happiness. Their recovery will not feel satisfactory, and they will suffer from the temptation to return to the numbness of addiction. A life away from alcohol and drugs is full of possibilities, but only if the individual values themselves highly enough to put in the necessary effort. If people are prepared to settle for just being away from alcohol or drugs, they may just end up as a dry drunk.
How to Increase Self-Esteem in Recovery
Self-esteem is not a fixed part of an individual’s personality. A person can increase their own sense of self-worth. All this requires is a bit of effort. Here are some ways people can increase their own self-esteem:
* Helping other people in recovery can be a wonderful way to increase self-esteem. This gives people the sense that they are of value because they are contributing to a cause. It also moves the focus away from themselves and onto other people.
* It is a good idea to look out for any should statements that arise in the mind. These are often just a way for the individual to beat themselves up. The individual needs to learn to give themselves a break. So long as they are trying their best, they are doing all that is necessary. Nobody is able to give 100 percent all the time.
* In AA they say that sometimes you have to fake it to make it. This means that people can deliberately make themselves have positive thoughts. In the beginning, this might all feel a bit unnatural, but it eventually becomes automatic. It is just like any other habit that people can develop.
* The individuals can begin to monitor their negative thoughts and challenge them. For example, if they believe that another person does not like them, they can ask themselves how they know this. Has that other person actually done something that proves this belief? Is this assumption based on attempts at mind reading? It is probably not possible to know what other people think, so there is no point in assuming the worst. By constantly challenging their negative thoughts, the individual is able to deal with them better.
* It is important for the individual to accept that nobody is perfect. If they become more willing to forgive the failings in other people it will make it easier for them to forgive their own failings.
* Metta (loving kindness) meditation is a wonderful technique for increasing self-esteem. It involved deliberately cultivating love for other people. In order to develop this sense of loving kindness, the individual has to first accept who they are and place a high value on this. Mindfulness meditation can also be a good way of monitoring the negative thinking that causes low self-esteem.
* A gratitude journal is a good way to focus on the positives in life. This involves writing about all the good things in life. There will always be positive things to appreciate for those who are prepared to look. By focusing on being deliberately grateful, a person will develop the habit of doing so naturally.