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One of the things many of us share in common as addicts is our tendency to be super hard on ourselves, even in our recovery. We beat ourselves up for how long it took us to get here. We’re disappointed in ourselves for taking longer than we would have liked to get well. We continue to judge ourselves for all of our mistakes and wrongdoings, even long after we’ve stopped perpetuating the same harmful cycles. We refuse to forgive ourselves for the ways in which we’ve hurt other people, even once we’ve made amends to them, even if they’ve forgiven us. One way we can reverse this toxic self-deprecation is to start celebrating ourselves in our recovery.

Sometimes we’re uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating ourselves and our accomplishments. We think it’s vain, arrogant or overly self-aggrandizing. We don’t want to call more attention to ourselves. Many of us tend to isolate, and we don’t want other people getting involved in our recovery. When it comes to this kind of celebration, we don’t have to throw ourselves a lavish party. We don’t even have to tell anyone or involve anyone else. We can do it by ourselves, for ourselves. We can spend quality time with ourselves and find nice ways of making us feel good about ourselves. We can increase our self-care time and do more of the things we enjoy and find fun and relaxing. We can prioritize stress-relief and make it a point to do things that bring us calm and inner peace, such as meditating or reading. These small acts of caring for ourselves help us to show ourselves that we value ourselves.

Our self-worth has been something many of us have struggled with for much of our lives. Our addictions have caused us to feel inadequate and unworthy. We might have already felt deeply insecure long before our addictions took hold, and it was our insecurity and our feelings of unworthiness that were actually major catalysts for our addictions to develop in the first place. We’ve grappled with feeling sad, ashamed and disappointed in ourselves long enough. Now that we’re in recovery, it’s time to shift our self-perception and embrace ourselves with love. It’s time to start seeing our worth and building ourselves up rather than continuously knocking ourselves down, judging and berating ourselves. It’s time to replace our self-rejecting tendencies with unconditional self-acceptance. These are all part of the process of learning to celebrate ourselves in our recovery.

Sometimes our hesitation to celebrate ourselves comes from our cautiousness. We don’t want to celebrate our recovery prematurely, only to relapse again. We might have already felt the painful sting of relapse, the bitter disappointment and regret that come with falling off the wagon. We might already know what it feels like to be doing so well only to take a turn for the worse. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, celebrating before we know we’re in the clear. We don’t want to jinx ourselves. We don’t want to get too excited, only to be disappointed yet again.

When we celebrate ourselves, it doesn’t mean we’re saying we think our recovery work is finished. We’re not saying that we can ease up on ourselves or that everything is perfect now. We still have to be diligent in our work. We still have to be vigilant and stay on top of ourselves, monitoring any difficult thoughts, emotions or issues that arise and taking steps to handle them proactively as they come rather than letting them get the best of us. We can’t succumb to inaction, complacence or denial. We can’t tell ourselves that because we’ve gotten sober, we no longer have to fight for our sobriety. We still have to keep up with our programs, attend meetings and go to therapy. We still have to check in with our sponsor regularly and work with our recovery coach. We want to keep up with the things we’ve been doing, the things that helped us recover and that got us this far. We don’t want to quit just because we’re ahead, and we don’t want to become complacent, thinking the worst is over and now we can relax. We don’t want to take our success for granted and risk failing again.

Celebrating ourselves, though, doesn’t have to make us become complacent or lazy in our recovery work. It can actually have the opposite effect. It can give us the extra motivation we need. It can uplift us whenever we’re feeling low. It can inspire us to keep going whenever we’re doubting ourselves. Celebrating ourselves can remind us we’re strong and resilient whenever we’re feeling ourselves falter, whenever we’re feeling weak. It can be the extra encouragement we need to stay focused on our goals any time temptation or addictive urges present themselves.

When we celebrate ourselves, we learn to be comfortable with giving ourselves praise. We are often quite uncomfortable commending ourselves or even receiving compliments from other people. We find that our recovery is the perfect time to build up our self-love and our self-worth, so much so that we become comfortable being good to ourselves and praising ourselves. Congratulate yourself for every success, no matter how small. Every sober day, every time you practice a healthy habit, every time you turn away from a destructive one, celebrate yourself. The self-love that comes with celebrating ourselves is often the most important, most helpful element in our recovery.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.