Generally, people who have addictive personalities do not have the highest level of self-esteem. I suppose there are always exceptions. But, the majority of us have high self-confidence and low self-esteem. Also, most of us had low self-esteem from an early age.
So, it is possible that low self-esteem could have contributed to our addiction(s). But, addiction is a brain disease, and is a primary disease, meaning it does not directly result from any other illness, such as depression, or low self-esteem. It could contribute to, but it does not cause addiction.
Through years of using drugs and alcohol to cope, most addicts are emotionally stunted at whatever age they began using. If use begins in the early teens, then all the normal, natural self-esteem-building events that take place usually do not occur. Such as, engaging in healthy relationships, and creating constructive or positive goals, and meeting goals.
If you get sober and are living a life in recovery, then you have another opportunity to build self-esteem. It is likely a totally new concept for you. Most of us cannot follow through with commitments and projects very well when using them, which is a huge part of building self-esteem. But, sobriety changes everything. Check out these 7 great habits used to build self-esteem.
1. Engage in Positive Self-Talk
People who truly have high self-esteem feel they are worthy of being happy. People who think they are worthy of being happy talk to themselves like they are valuable human beings. Changing how you talk to yourself is the first way to change your self-esteem. It doesn’t necessarily come with creating self-esteem, sometimes, you have to do it in order to build your self-esteem. I think self-compassion is actually more important than self-esteem. You can’t have self-esteem without self-compassion. A good way to begin engaging in positive self-talk is to practice affirmations. Once you do this several times, it will come more naturally.
2. Set Small Goals
Yes, it would be great to set large goals, but if you have never been able to meet small ones, what makes you think you can meet large ones? Start small. There is a great theory behind this, according to Meg Selig, Ph.D. As you set small goals and meet them, the brain floods with dopamine, and that creates a reward system for creating and meeting goals. So, instead of setting lofty goals that are unrealistic, set a goal like making your bed every day when you wake up. Once you are able to follow through with that, expand your goal-setting to reach into more important parts of your life, like major life decisions. Selig termed meeting these small goals as “small wins.” Those “small wins” eventually turn into large wins.
3. Make a List of Your Positive Attributes
We can all point out the negative, especially us who have low self-esteem. And, yes, we all have areas we can work to improve. But, if you are building your self-esteem it is good to see your attributes on paper. Include any and everything that you like about yourself. Or, that you know you are good at. Include strengths, good traits, achievements, and successes. My list of attributes would be:
- Clean almost 2 years
I could go on and on, just kidding. Think of it as a gratitude list for yourself. Read it when you need a boost, or place it where you can see it on a regular basis.
Meditation is a great tool for anyone. It can totally change your life. Meditation is a practice that helps to create feelings of peace and serenity. Some of you may not be familiar with meditation at all, so it may not be peaceful if you have not yet gotten the hang of it. But, just stick with it and try different meditation techniques, as there are so many types of meditation in which you can engage. Meditation can center you, and get you in touch with who you are at your core–your essence. If you can connect to your inner self, your self-esteem issues will slowly slip away. Also, when you are concentrating on the present moment, you are not living in the past, creating feelings of guilt or shame. The more you meditate, the more you will be living in the present moment, neither toiling over the future nor rehashing the past, but doing everything that you need to do to be the best you–are today.
5. Setting Fitness Goals
Again, think small. If you have never worked out before, don’t sign up to run a marathon. Setting small goals is especially important when it comes to weightlifting, or exercise of any kind. It’s also a great way to teach you that building self-esteem is a process. You can’t get fit overnight, or meet a goal overnight. Unless of course, your goal is to show up at the gym the next day. Suspending your gratification will help you to value and become more appreciative when you do meet your goal. When you do meet your goal, you know that you, alone, did what you could not do before. Understand that your strength and perseverance helped you to meet your goal. That understanding will eventually become ingrained in your psyche, and your self-esteem will rise. You will eventually carry that into other aspects of your life, in relationships, your career, etc.
6. Helping Others
When you volunteer, participate in service work in your program, or just perform some random acts of kindness, helping others is a sure-fire self-esteem builder. If you are helping someone else, you are, without a doubt, doing something positive. All selfless acts are self-esteem builders. I think that we have a natural inclination to feel better about ourselves when we are concerned with others. Again, you don’t have to build someone a house to help. Start by holding the door for people, or smiling at strangers. If you haven’t had a good day and are feeling really down on yourself, smiling at someone can counteract your negative feelings.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol and drug addiction contact us at the Palm Beach Institute, today. We can help you to achieve sobriety.