Coming to accept ourselves is a process, and it takes time, practice and patience. We’ve grown so accustomed to hating parts of ourselves, wishing certain things about us were different, feeling ashamed of certain things about ourselves. When we’re in recovery, we’re actively working to process our addictions and mental health issues, all of our thought patterns, emotions and behaviors. While we’re doing all this soul-searching, sometimes our instinct is to want to block off certain parts of who we are, not think about them, forget them and avoid them as much as possible. To truly recover on a deep level, though, it’s so important to love ourselves unconditionally, and that means accepting ourselves as we are. When we think of the process of accepting ourselves as a practice that we can apply our energy to, it can help us to break down the seemingly huge, lofty task of self-acceptance into actionable steps that we can take for ourselves as part of our healing.
Let’s try a writing exercise where we create lists of the things we perceive as our flaws, our faults and imperfections. Try making a list of the things you would change about yourself, what are often referred to as character defects. Go deep and include any regrets, mistakes or wrongdoings you wish you could undo. Look at the hardest things, including the traumatic experiences you’re holding onto that you find hard to let go of or forgive, things you may still blame yourself for. Many of us with addictions, depression and other mental health issues often carry within us a deep sense of shame, and we have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Writing these lists isn’t going to be easy, but it’s so worthwhile. Take a deep breath, and keep writing.
Read over your lists. First, congratulate yourself on even getting this far. Self-exploration and self-analysis are not easy to do, especially when we’re working with such difficult issues. Now let’s try this meditation. With your hand on your heart to activate its energy, read your lists slowly and intentionally. After every line, say “I love myself. I accept myself. I forgive myself. I respect myself.”
When we’re able to face our demons, we take back our power. When we allow them to take over our lives, we often develop low self-esteem, seriously limiting beliefs about our self-worth, and a pervasive self-hatred. We keep ourselves small. We block our growth. We prevent ourselves from healing. Choose to embrace all of who you are with self-love, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness and self-respect.
The Riverside community wants to help you get to a place of true self-love. Call (800) 871-5440.