Many of us suffer from low self-esteem, and our addictions, depression and other mental health issues can contribute to it, compound it and exacerbate it. The self-image we’ve created for ourselves is often tainted by our fears of inadequacy, unworthiness and inferiority. We’re afraid that we don’t measure up, that we’re not good enough, that we are unworthy. We’ve essentially brainwashed ourselves to believe that we are inadequate and to see ourselves in very disparaging ways. We focus on our faults and have a very hard time remembering our strengths. We see ourselves as addicts and little more, to the point where we develop our identities around our addictions. We accept the judgmental stereotypes that we are bad people because of our addictions. How can we create a healthier, more self-loving self-image?
One thing we can start to do is reject all of the harmful stereotypes around addiction that cause us to feel even worse about ourselves. “Addicts are lazy and lack motivation. Addicts are weak and cowardly. Addicts are just using their ‘disease’ as an excuse for bad behavior.” The more we grow in our recovery, the more we learn that these things simply aren’t true. Addiction can be debilitating and even deadly, and we are brave in surviving it. Every day that we live through it is a testament to our strength. We possess the inner power to heal ourselves. It’s so important that we stop seeing ourselves with so much judgment, contempt and condemnation.
Many of us experience so much self-hatred that we have a very hard time looking at our reflection in the mirror or listening to the sound of our own voice. We feel uncomfortable with ourselves, even disdainful. Try looking in the mirror and listening to your voice while saying things like “I love you. You are beautiful. You are brave.” When you make this a regular practice, you will begin to reconnect with your inner self.
A huge factor in our addictions and mental health challenges is that we have become so disconnected from our true selves that we’ve forgotten who we are. Ask yourself questions such as, “Who was I before the addiction took hold? Who am I underneath it all? What do I love about life? What do I love about myself? What gifts and talents do I have? How can I serve others?”
Answering these questions takes time. Journal with them, meditate on them. Be patient with yourself. Healing is a lifelong process, and finding ourselves is part of our recovery. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to heal.
We’re here to help. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.