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The Power of Positive Self-Image for Those in Recovery

Self Reflection

Holistic healing refers to the treatment of the whole person to achieve optimal wellness. And for those recovering from substance abuse, taking a holistic approach to care may be the key to success and lifelong freedom from drugs and alcohol. The recovery process, therefore, should be a multifaceted endeavor involving physical healing from addiction as well as mental illness.

Positivity plays a major role in every facet of recovery, and it’s important that you work hard to recognize your inherent worthiness. Keep in mind that it may not be easy. Finding reasons to remain positive can be difficult during recovery, especially if you don’t have a significant amount of clean time under your belt. But the importance of restoring your self-worth and self-image can’t be overstated, and you owe it to yourself to at least try.

The recovery process is one of change and growth, and it involves your whole being: Body, mind, and spirit. Becoming the whole person you were before addiction became the center of your life requires that you accept and forgive yourself, love yourself, and prioritize self-care. Yes, you may have made mistakes while under the influence and acted in ways that you’re ashamed of, but always remember that your mistakes don’t define you.

To fully accept yourself, you have to take the bad with the good, and continue working to become a better person who can’t be controlled by drugs and alcohol. This may require a complete change in your thought process.

Tips for Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Changing our thought patterns is effectively the core of increasing self-esteem. To help foster a more positive self-image and increase feelings of personal worth, we need to swap out negative thoughts for empowering ones. Acknowledge your successes, even if they seem small, and avoid comparing yourself to others around you, especially when you’re in the early stages of recovery when you may be feeling especially vulnerable and ashamed.

For many recovering addicts, self-esteem is strongly tied to aesthetics. When we were in the depths of drug addiction, most of us didn’t pay much attention to our hygiene or outward appearance; instead, our primary concern was getting high. Fortunately, recovery provides a way to heal both our body and soul, but it’s important to remember that change won’t come overnight.

Speaking of aesthetics, among the numerous unfortunate side effects of drug addiction are tooth decay, stained teeth that have lost their shine, and poor oral health in general. Thus, those in recovery may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth, and be reluctant to smile. That’s too bad, because the act of smiling promotes your brain to release endorphins, which can boost mood and help bring on a positive attitude.

The good news is that keeping your smile white may be as simple as being mindful of the foods you consume, and making sure to brush and floss daily. Taking care of your teeth is an easy way to combat the negative effects of past drug use, as well as improve your self-image.

Accepting Mistakes and Past Negative Behavior

Neglecting our oral health is just one of the ways we hurt ourselves during active addiction, and the majority of addicts have a lengthy list of past mistakes. During the height of addiction, you may have lied to people, committed theft, or otherwise behaved in a dishonest or unscrupulous manner. Those mistakes can eat away at one’s conscience, which can make it difficult to truly heal from addiction.

Self-acceptance is, therefore, an integral part of the recovery process, and you must accept your mistakes and work to forgive yourself for the harm you have caused. While your recovery likely involves a number of people, such as your primary care doctor, mental health provider, or sponsor, it’s ultimately a solo endeavor.

Of course, the idea of helping yourself can seem daunting, perhaps even impossible. But in seeking out help for your addiction in the first place, you have already proven that you’re strong enough to handle anything that recovery throws at you. For starters, as you work to essentially reprogram your addict brain, you’ll need to learn how to self-regulate.

“Self-regulation is key to healthy behavior,” according to Bradley University. What’s more, self-regulation techniques can help you to better respond to problematic situations and people in a healthy manner, rather than turning to mind-altering substances. Your mental health or treatment counselor may be able to guide you through the process of cultivating self-regulation skills.

Positivity and Our Physical Health

Self-regulation goes hand in hand with self-esteem and overall positivity. And interestingly, building up a more positive mindset is as beneficial to our physical health as it is to our mental wellbeing. Some of the most important aspects of physical health, in fact, are behaviors that we may have ignored during periods of active use, when our mind was overflowing with negativity.

Paying attention to our physical wellness — that is, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and making time to relax and practice mindfulness — is almost a guarantee of a more positive mindset. When we properly take care of ourselves, it becomes that much easier to see ourselves in a positive light. Further, our individual positivity may have a profound effect on those we come in contact with.

While substance abuse doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender, income, race, or any other demographic, one’s environment may play a role. Public health on a large scale includes social, behavioral, environmental, and cultural elements, and our substance use may be linked to one or all of those factors. By looking at our addiction as a product of our culture and environment, perhaps we can then begin to see ourselves in a different life. Our new, positive self-image can only come about if we accept our old behavior, forgive ourselves, and never forget who the true culprit is: Drugs and alcohol.



About the Author: Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings.

Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Vmr8bGURExo

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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