Right now, it feels like everyone is talking about self-love or self-care as an essential part of the well-being jigsaw. And yes, we can all benefit from setting aside time in our busy lives to engage in activities or practices that nurture a sense of self-love.
But, in terms of recovering from addiction, self-love plays a foundational and fundamental role in achieving lasting recovery. Mastering the art of self-love encourages self-compassion and understanding; and creates space for healthier coping strategies to develop and thrive.
What is the art of self-love?
Self-love encourages you to build an appreciation of who you are. It can be described as any emotional, physical, or spiritual practice that nurtures and sustains genuine respect and appreciation for oneself.
Thoughts or actions that foster self-love are unique to each individual. They typically involve making healthier choices, taking care of our own needs, accepting ourselves as we are in this moment, and finding meaning or purpose in life. This might include, for example:
- Caring for our body through a healthy diet, exercise, and quality sleep
- Setting healthy boundaries with others
- Being kind to ourselves rather than criticizing or judging
- Not comparing ourselves to others
- Forgiving ourselves for past mistakes
- Letting go of unhealthy, toxic relationships
- Focusing on things we are grateful for
Over time, cultivating self-love builds self-esteem, self-forgiveness, and self-acceptance – all essential components of long-term recovery.
Self-love at the heart of the therapeutic process
A lack of self-love may have triggered or fueled your addiction in the first place, or perhaps your sense of self-love has been eroded by your addiction over time. Either way, reviving self-love is central to the therapeutic process and long-term recovery.
Learning to truly love yourself is crucial in coming to terms with your past and moving forward as a happier, healthier person – it’s a step-by-step healing process at the heart of any good recovery program and can be life-changing.
As your mind, body, and soul begin to heal, self-love helps to block your critical inner voice and release deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt, or shame. It nurtures the self-compassion needed to accept and forgive past mistakes, weaknesses, or experiences while celebrating your strengths and working towards healthy goals for the future.
Why self-love is essential for lasting recovery
Building self-love is a powerful way to reject the prejudiced views of addiction that sadly persist in society.
“You have no self-control.” “You’ll always be an addict.” “You’re broken.”
While all these statements are clearly false, they can de-rail the recovery journey. However, rebuilding self-love through the therapeutic process gives us the power to combat these falsehoods and to know that these statements do not define us.
We begin to trust our inner voice again and to know our true self-worth and value – regardless of external opinions.
Recovery is also about learning to recognize our thoughts, efforts, and actions, to understand them and where they come from, and to begin taking back control. During the therapeutic process, we have time to sit with our thoughts and emotions and start exploring them more deeply in a safe space – with the guidance and support of a trained professional.
During this process, we must also develop the skills needed to build and nurture self-love, so we can continue to observe and manage our thoughts and emotions independently as we move further along the recovery journey.
Self-love creates a space for us to do this safely while also encouraging us to appreciate, acknowledge and celebrate our successes.
How to maintain self-love for lasting recovery
We know self-love is vital to recovery and can be revived through the therapeutic process, but how do we approach maintaining it for lasting recovery?
Well, building self-love is an acquired skill and unique to each individual. A good starting point is to consider what thoughts or actions give you a sense of inner peace.
This could be anything from yoga to running a 5K; avoiding triggering situations; nourishing your body; writing a journal; spending time with friends; using affirmations; celebrating your wins, or knowing when to say no. The list goes on!
Once you have a few ideas, you can explore how these thoughts and actions can become a part of your everyday routine during early addiction recovery. However, regardless of which activities you choose, it’s worth noting several universal aspects of self-love:
Growing your self-compassion is central to self-love. Think of treating yourself as you would a valued, close friend. Seek to understand what makes you tick, and always talk to yourself with care and kindness. No matter the situation, having a compassionate inner voice brings a sense of forgiveness and nurture. It’s OK to learn from mistakes and reflect on improving. Daily compassion lets you let go of poor decisions, move on, and stop being your worst critic.
You can remove yourself from unhealthy relationships or situations by setting firm boundaries. The therapeutic process will help you define these boundaries and teach you how to communicate what you will and won’t tolerate to others.
Having low self-esteem means you are likely to feel less self-love. Putting in place practices to boost your self-esteem regularly is a great way to ensure it stays topped up. This can be participating in any activity that gives you a sense of achievement and worth.
The ongoing practice of self-love demands that we set aside time in our busy lives to engage in activities that boost our mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical health. Making this commitment allows you to take the transformative impact of therapy and apply it to your everyday life.
This can start with minor adjustments to your routine, for example, ensuring you eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s important to note why you are making this time and to be aware of the positive impact each action will have.
Knowing that you deserve to have this time to prioritize your needs (because you do matter) is a big part of self-love. As this becomes routine, your sense of peace, self-esteem, and resilience will grow, and you’ll begin to cope better with difficult situations without reverting to self-destructive methods.
Living in the moment
Mindful practices are helpful for building and maintaining self-love. If you’re aware of yourself in the moment, you can focus on living for today. This can be powerful in creating mental space to reflect and transform. Developing a meditation practice is particularly helpful if anxiety and stress are ongoing challenges.
Barriers to self-love
Barriers to self-love are barriers to your recovery. If you neglect self-love practices, recovery can stall as self-destructive thoughts and behaviors may begin to seep back in, potentially resulting in a relapse.
Common barriers include depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, stress, shame, low self-esteem, or a sense of isolation. However, when you meet a bump in the road, self-love can helpfully provide the self-compassion needed to pick yourself up and move forward.
Self-love can include seeking any help you need to get your recovery back on track. Remember, everyone makes mistakes – that is how we learn and grow.
Is it time to revive your self-love?
Overcoming addiction can be a considerable challenge, but it’s a challenge that becomes easier if you revive the art of self-love as part of your recovery process.
You deserve a fulfilling, healthy, and happy future; self-love will allow you to believe this from deep within. By reviving self-love, you’ll also build new routines filled with small practical steps that can be completed and celebrated daily, smoothing your road to recovery and creating healthier habits for life.
How Tikvah Lake can help
At Tikvah Lake Recovery, you can relax in our 15,000-square-foot Florida mansion set by a stunning tranquil lake. In these peaceful and comfortable surroundings, our experienced team offers therapy for a wide range of addictions, drawing on evidence-based therapeutic techniques.
We understand the importance of building self-love throughout your addiction recovery journey and showing you the real value that lies within you. So, during your stay with us, we’ll help you to focus on things like forgiveness, self-care, and mindfulness – to build the self-love essential to prevent relapse and find true and lasting sobriety.
We also understand that recovery is a life-long process, which is why we provide comprehensive aftercare for all our clients, to support your long-term success. Call us for an initial chat about how we could help you or someone you care about today.