Why Do We Abuse Ourselves?

Our addictions are often accompanied by self-harm and self-abuse. They are themselves a form of self-abuse, as we do harmful and dangerous things to ourselves when we are driven by our addictions. Our dependence on addictive substances, behaviors and relationships, along with our deep unhappiness and fear, make us treat ourselves with unkindness, even cruelty. We are mentally, emotionally and physically abusive of ourselves. Why do we abuse ourselves?

The culprit at the root of our self-abuse is often our deep insecurity. We feel so low and so down on ourselves that we don’t feel we deserve our own compassion or gentleness. We’re impatient with ourselves, feeling extremely frustrated with our lack of progress or our inability to recover from our addictions. We beat ourselves up for the mistakes we’ve made. We flog ourselves with guilt and shame for our regrets. We stubbornly refuse to forgive ourselves, even when the people we’ve hurt have forgiven us. Often the people we’ve hurt the most are ourselves, and we can’t seem to let go of that, to release our pain and move forward. We keep ourselves stuck. We limit ourselves and keep ourselves small, unable to move beyond the past and envision a happy future for ourselves. We don’t believe we deserve happiness, success, or love. We never feel good enough. We feel inferior to other people and are afraid we’ll never measure up. Our fears of unworthiness, inadequacy and inferiority make us abuse ourselves, in self-punishing, self-disparaging and self-deprecating ways.

How do you abuse yourself? Is it mentally, with your critical self-talk? Is it emotionally – are you denying yourself love and support? Do you abuse yourself physically, with cutting, eating disorders, or some other kind of physical self-harm? Let’s take a closer look at our self-abuse. What does it look like? How does it function in our lives? What are we thinking when we abuse ourselves? What pain and fears do we have yet to heal from?

Our insecurity usually comes from a self-rejection that is often the result of trauma. We wrongly perceive our traumatic experiences to be our fault. We see them as evidence of our moral failure. We see them as proof that we’re in fact bad, shameful, immoral people. We have to remind ourselves that not only is our trauma not our fault, it’s also not a true reflection of who we are as people. Our difficult experiences don’t define us. When we abuse ourselves, we’re letting our pain define us and direct our lives. We don’t have to do that anymore. Part of healing from our addictions is stopping the cycles of self-abuse we’ve been perpetuating for much of our lives.

Recovery for us is personal. Seventy-five percent of the Riverside Recovery staff has lived with addiction and successfully gone through the recovery process. Call us today: (800) 871-5440.