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When we are working towards recovery, how we treat ourselves can make all the difference in how we feel, how we take care of ourselves, and how likely we are to reach our goals. Many of us who have been living with addictions and mental health issues for a long time have a way of beating ourselves up, being overly harsh and punitive with ourselves, and denying ourselves our patience, forgiveness, understanding and compassion. Healing from our issues is as much about healing our relationship with self as it is shedding our harmful patterns. Our relationship with ourselves is strengthened and empowered every time we choose to treat ourselves with more kindness and encouragement.

Whenever you instinctively tell yourself to beat yourself up, criticize yourself harshly, speak ill of yourself, or otherwise disparage yourself, take a moment to notice that this is happening. Start to become more mindful of your self-talk. How can we expect to meet our goals or the intentions we’ve set for ourselves when we are knocking ourselves down emotionally? How can we sustain our own self-punishment? The answer often is that we can’t. We usually are working against ourselves, hindering our progress and derailing our momentum for healing. We might take one step forward to then knock ourselves two steps back.

How can we learn to be more encouraging, to gently push ourselves rather than beat ourselves up? For starters, we need a new perspective on making mistakes. We tend to see mistakes as signs of moral failing on our part. We go much easier on other people and are much quicker to offer our forgiveness. We tend to deny ourselves this same grace. We feel like we should’ve known better. We feel disappointed in ourselves. We allow ourselves to dwell in our guilt and shame.

Let’s choose to look at mistakes differently. They are an inevitable part of life that can offer us tremendous opportunities for growth. Every mistake we make has the potential to teach us something. The lessons we learn can aid in our recovery, and we can use them to help other people as well. The more we can see mistakes not as sins but as necessary elements of our journey, the more we can ease up on ourselves.

Let’s also start seeing ourselves the way we see other people, especially the people we care most about. We often want to give people the benefit of the doubt. We are rooting for them. Shouldn’t we care for ourselves just as much? Mentally become your own cheerleader and advocate. Believe in yourself. Encourage and lift yourself up. Gently push yourself to do better. Without making these important emotional changes, we run the risk of staying stuck in our cycles of addiction.

We are here to encourage you and to help you learn to encourage yourself. Call (800) 871-5440.