Building Self-Esteem

One thing that’s true among addicts and alcoholics is the lack of self-esteem we have. We’ve spent months, even years doing wrong to ourselves, to others, and in the process we’ve beaten and broken down our spirits, our self-esteem, and diminished the love we have for ourselves. Sometimes, this can make recovery an even harder path to walk. I know for me, a simple compliment makes me an uncomfortable mess. I turn red, start to fidget, and become shy. Sometimes it even angers me, because I feel like the compliment itself is a lie, and I’m just waiting for them to see it too, waiting for them to unveil that I’m really just a fraud, and I can’t even bear to see their face when they realize it.  Something as simple as a compliment can literally make my head spin.  So, why is it that we can’t simply accept a compliment?

Well, the truth is, we’ve trained ourselves to be this way. We’ve spent so much time putting ourselves down for mistakes we’ve made along the way, bridges we’ve burned, and paths we have taken, that we have a hard time seeing the good within ourselves, and we just cant imagine how anyone else would see it too.  We have taught our brain to see ourselves in a negative light.

If we continue to perceive ourselves as being “flawed” or “not good enough” then we are going to continuously find ourselves at odds when someone compliments us.

The good news is, there’s ways to re-train the way we think in a conscious effort to help us grow and be able to at least let the compliment stand without shutting it down, until we gain the confidence and love for ourselves to just outright accept it.

Here are some steps we can take:

 

Forgive yourself

This may be a difficult one to face head-on but it’s one of the most important steps there is to being able to love yourself again. Sure, we’ve made few or many mistakes along the way. Some of them minor, some of them major. That isn’t something that just something that happens to alcoholics and addicts; it’s just human nature. As humans, we are going to make mistakes, we’re going to mess up, and we’re going to let people down. Being able to recognize mistakes as just that, a mistake, will help to ease your mind of thinking that YOU are the mistake. Failing doesn’t mean YOU are a failure. Forgive yourself; make your amends not only to the necessary people, but to yourself as well. Be nice to YOU. You deserve it.

Positive Affirmations

This took me a while to get down. It was silly to me to stand in front of a mirror each morning and compliment myself. The truth is, it was hard for me to look at myself and believe the nice things I was saying about myself. So I started saying positive affirmations to myself while in the shower. My logic was, if I could blindly get my mind to believe it first, then when I brave the mirror again, it would be easier for me to look at myself, say a compliment and believe it too. It took lots of practice but I can now stand in front of that mirror and believe every nice word I say about myself. It became easier to see the good in myself, to love myself. The key to this is consistency. Do this daily!

Flip Your View

If you’re like me, you focus more on your shortcomings. You’re more likely to point out the negative traits within yourself than the positive ones you carry as well. When meeting someone for the first time or applying for a job your first thought may be to say “Hi my name is…” and then figuratively vomit all of the things you aren’t good at or don’t like about yourself. Try instead to flip your view. Set some time aside to write down the positive traits you carry. Are you friendly, are you social, and are you someone who is of service to others? These are all things to ask yourself, and identify about you. We are already filled with so many positive traits that we often let go unnoticed, and we can ALWAYS work to be better with the traits we struggle with. This way, when you meet someone for the first time, or go after that dream-job (or get-well job), you can allow others to see all of your good qualities. Don’t be afraid to let yourself shine.

Compliment Others

The saying holds true, it is always more rewarding to give than to receive. Giving compliments to others just gives us all the feels, and we feel GOOD about ourselves too. Don’t be shy to approach someone, whether you’re at a meeting, at work, or when you just feel compelled to walk up to someone and brighten their day, do it! Giving back is one of our ways of being of service, and why not do so by helping someone else restore the confidence and love within themselves, the same confidence and love that you have been working so hard to desperately restore within your own self.

These are just a few tools that have helped me find my light again. They’ve helped me to be okay with allowing myself to shine, and not immediately put out my flame with insecurities and self-doubt. You must always allow yourself to forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and you will find that it will open so many possibilities. You’ll be able to chip away at the negative views you have of yourself. You’ll be able to compliment yourself again, and you’ll find yourself wanting to compliment anyone and everyone too!

I came across the quote and it really resonated with me, and I feel compelled to share it with you

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” 

-Louise L. Hay 

Approve of yourself. Approve of your flaws, your imperfections, but most importantly approve of your journey. The same journey that has allowed you to grow, even through the muddiest of waters, you’ve prevailed, and you’ve been given this chance to approve of the good within yourself, and the ability to run with, and do great things with it.