“The fact is that others don’t have to love you for you to love yourself. You must start with an acceptance of yourself. Accept your fallibility; accept that you aren’t perfect and will make mistakes. Accept that you must forgive yourself for past mistakes, while at the same time accepting responsibility for them.”
~Drs. Brian F. Shaw, Phd, Paul Ritvo, Phd, and Jane Irvine DPhil, Addiction and Recovery for Dummies
One of the biggest lies perpetuated by the disease of addiction is that a person struggling with substance abuse and somehow flawed, broken, or unworthy of anything better than an addiction-driven life.
The Role That Self-Esteem Plays in Addiction and Recovery
Low self-esteem is one of the best predictors of substance abuse. People who have a negative self-image will often self-medicate in an attempt to feel better about themselves. Sadly, the negative consequences of addiction usually make them feel even worse.
The converse of this is also true. Positive self-esteem is crucial for good mental health and is one of the key components of recovery from addictive disorders like alcoholism, the misuse of prescription medications, or illicit drug addiction.
To aid and your understanding that you ARE worthy of the promises of recovery, here are some self-affirmations that you can say in the mirror every day to remind you of your own value and potential.
Positive Affirmation #1 – “TODAY, I am going to be the best person I can be.”
This statement supports your recovery in two ways:
- FIRST, it reminds you to focus on TODAY – not tomorrow, not next week, not the rest of your life.
- SECOND, it doesn’t require you to strive for unattainable perfection – you only need to make the best of what you have been given.
Positive Affirmation #2 – “I forgive myself and my past. I see how it has made me who I am today.”
Too often, people are stunted in their recovery because they are trapped within unproductive negative emotions such as shame and guilt.
But where you are NOW – sober and healthy – is more important than where you once were. Rather than being held back by your past, learn from it and move forward.
Positive Affirmation #3 – “I am strong. People, places, and things don’t control me.”
Part of a successful recovery is dealing with the real world. There are always going to be stresses, negative people, and temptations, and despite your best efforts, it will not always be possible to avoid them. More important than their presence in your life is your REACTION to them.
Positive Affirmation #4 – “I am not my disorder.”
How you talk about yourself MATTERS – even Dr. Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug abuse, says that we need to rethink how we talk about addiction. You are not just a “substance abuser”, you are a PERSON with a substance abuse disorder.
Positive Affirmation #5 – “Today is full of possible.”
Addiction is a disease of imposed limitations – what you CAN’T be or do in or with your life. Now that you are in recovery, the wonderful possibilities are endless – there are countless stories of people who overcame their addictions and who then went on to great personal success. You can be one of them.
Positive Affirmation #6 – “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
After stepping away from a dysfunctional life of active addiction, it can be far too easy to sit back and dwell on everything we think we may have lost. As the saying goes, that is “stinking thinking” that only serves to hold us back.
Instead, trying reflect on everything that you have gained – or regained – since you began your journey of recovery. Staying grateful for the people and things in your life reinforces their value. And when you value something, you are less likely to just throw it away.
Positive Affirmation #7 – “Small steps forward are still steps.”
At the end of the day, you may not always achieve as much as you wanted, but it is important to realize that recovery is a lifelong process. Put another way, the journey of recovery is just as important as the destination. Remember, the smallest victory is better than defeat.
Positive Affirmation #8 – “It is okay to let others take care of me.”
We can’t always do it alone. Sometimes, the best way to help ourselves is to let others help us. Asking for help is not a weakness – on the contrary, it shows that you are strong enough to not be held hostage by stubbornness or your ego.
Some people think that it is “corny” to use self-affirmations and visualizations during recovery. But, as the disease of addiction has plainly shown, it is possible to reprogram your brain through repetition. When you say positive things to yourself every day, you inevitably wind up with positive results.