Practicing Self-Love this Valentine’s Day and Beyond
Authored by Morgan Werner
Recovery presents us with the opportunity to mend the relationships that experienced a disconnect during our active addiction, but one relationship we don’t often think about during this chapter of rebuilding, is the relationship we have with ourselves. Drugs and alcohol can act as a band-aid that we use to conceal our shame and self-deprecating thoughts, but in recovery, we can no longer run from these feelings. The image we have of ourselves is at the forefront of every decision we make, so for us to honestly embrace recovery, we must also embrace ourselves.
Follow these helpful tips to get yourself in the practice of self-love:
Self-forgiveness does not imply that we condone the behaviors we once engaged in and forget about the choices we made during active addiction. In its simplest terms, self-forgiveness involves the acknowledgement that we are not inherently bad people, rather, we have made recognizable mistakes, and we are ready to move forward without continuing to dwell on the past.
Treat Yourself as You Would a Loved One
Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you engage in negative self-talk? Did you dwell on what you should have done differently? Now think about how you would respond if a friend or a loved one made that very same mistake. Would you treat them the same way you treated yourself, or would you show them compassion and understanding?
The truth is we are naturally prone to show others more kindness than we show ourselves. Next time you find yourself listening to your inner critic, stop and think about how you would respond if those negative thoughts and feelings were expressed by friend or a loved one. Show yourself the empathy you would show them. Everyone deserves a break!
Self-care is not a self-centered act – it helps to encourage spiritual growth, improve our overall wellbeing, and is an essential piece of recovery. When we think of self-care, we often think about taking a bubble bath at the end of a long day or going on a shopping spree, but self-care is so much more – it means creating healthy boundaries with others, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and taking time for ourselves. Practicing self-care in recovery is not only a path to finding self-love, but it can also positively affect your mood, decrease cravings, and lead to other clear minded, healthy choices.
In recovery, we know that having a support system is critical to long term success. Support can come from a variety of sources such as a therapist, outpatient services, friends, family, and peers who are also in recovery, such as your fellow RCA alumni. Seek support in those who genuinely care about you, have an optimistic approach to life, and possess similar goals. When we surround ourselves with the love and positivity of others, it can be highly contagious.
Recovery Centers of America’s Alumni Association is a great place to seek out those sober peer supports. With virtual meetings each day, and free monthly sober events there is a community of likeminded individuals waiting to embrace and encourage you while you learn to love yourself.