20 Feb Learn to Love Yourself Before You Can Share Love with Others
Did you feel overwhelmed, perhaps even blue, during the “season of love” we recently had? You can’t escape thinking about love and relationships in February, as Valentine’s Day merchandise and messaging is in your face every time you go to the grocery store.
Many recovering addicts feel they’re not worthy of love, ashamed of some of things they’ve done to their loved ones. But be honest — do you even love yourself? If you don’t, how can others?
You’ll need to learn to love again before you can create sustainable relationships. Expect to work at this for a while — for someone in recovery, the complexities of love and relationships are tenfold. After all, not only do you have to start life as a new person with new priorities and outlooks, you likely have to rebuild a few burned bridges too.
Before you can do any of that, focus on rebuilding your self-esteem and regaining self-confidence. Once you learn how to be good to yourself, you will understand how to be good to others.
This requires you to look inward and reflect on the person you are now and the person you want to become.
A few tips for regaining self-confidence and self-esteem:
- Expect that you may feel low for a while. This is normal. Don’t worry about how long it takes to bounce back — focus on doing the work.
- Don’t do the work for outside validation. Receiving praise is wonderful for self-confidence, but your initial goal is inward self-appreciation rather than outside acknowledgement.
- Learn to view the cup half-full rather than half-empty. As an addict, seeing the negativity in everything may have been a habit. By practicing gratitude — for things big and small — you will start seeing your life in a positive light and turn challenges into opportunities.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Mistakes will happen; goals will be missed. Do what you need to do to correct, and move on. Stay flexible with your personal expectations.
- Remember to forgive yourself. Yes, you’ve probably done some bad things. Once you accept responsibility for those past actions, you have to forgive yourself in order to make progress. Forgiveness from others will come later.
- Take care of yourself: body, mind and spirit. We’ve talked before about the importance of thinking holistically.
- Rediscover your talents. Contributing to your community will help you feel good about yourself. If you’ve lived in the fog of addiction for a long time, you may not know yet how to contribute — take time to discover your personal strengths, skills and passions.
By the way, an easy way to contribute and give back is by becoming involved in the Olalla alumni community. Even a simple act of sharing your story at a birthday meeting may help change someone’s life.
Don’t rush to let someone into your life as you navigate recovery. It’s perfectly fine to need some space at this stage as well as take the time to discover and enjoy the new you on your own.
Just keep in mind that your success depends on having a support system and an accountability partner. This can be your therapist or another trusted professional, as well as someone from the Olalla alumni network.
Try a birthday meeting if you haven’t already; it’s a great place to start building new relationships and find support from others who know exactly what you’re going through.