Nurturing ourselves is something many of us with addiction and mental illness have a very hard time doing. We have adopted and perpetuated the belief that we don’t deserve to love ourselves and be good to ourselves. Many of us were not nurtured or supported by our caregivers growing up. The neglect and abandonment we have felt throughout our lives lead us to believe that we don’t deserve to be nurtured by ourselves or others. When we don’t nurture ourselves, we are abandoning ourselves and self-destructing in all kinds of ways, both big and small. We might speak ill of ourselves to other people. We may struggle with self-image issues and have a wounded sense of self. Our self-esteem may be very low. We might not expect our loved ones to be kind to us and treat us well. We don’t support our dreams and goals, and we don’t expect others to. We give up on ourselves, and we lose hope. How can we learn to nurture ourselves?
The process of self-nurturing invites us to heal our inner child and address the unhealed wounds that are still within us. Picture yourself as a child. Look at any old photographs you might have, read old journal entries, and listen to old recordings. Try to revisit your childhood and reconnect with how you felt as a child. Did you feel loved? Did you feel nurtured, protected and supported? Did you feel insecure? Did you feel afraid? Did you feel like the adults in your life were taking care of you? Spend time assessing whether or not your needs were actually met during your formative years. When we grew up not feeling nurtured by our caregivers, we’re much more likely not to know how to nurture ourselves as adults.
Visualize yourself giving your child self all of the love, attention, praise and validation you were seeking but might not have ever received. Tell yourself you’re proud of yourself. List attributes and strengths that you love about yourself. List things that you’re grateful for about yourself. Energetically begin to embody the self-love and self-acceptance that come naturally to us when we are nurtured. Practice nurturing yourself by giving yourself everything you’ve been needing. Sometimes we look for nurturing in our relationships, to fill our internal voids for us. We have to learn how to love and nurture ourselves, and in turn we will attract friendships and relationships where we naturally are mutually nurturing and supportive of each other.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.