Learning to love yourself again is a powerful step towards healing and reclaiming your life. When you recognize your own value and treat yourself with kindness, compassion, and respect, you are better equipped to navigate the challenges of recovery and find fulfillment in your sobriety.

Why learning to love yourself again matters

Neglecting ourselves and lacking self-love can manifest in various ways, many of which can be destructive. 

  • Self-isolation. If you don’t feel that you deserve happiness or good things, it can cause you to withdraw from your friends, family, and loved ones. Withdrawing from social interactions and avoiding meaningful connections with others can increase stress and risk of depression. These have health consequences of their own, but more worrisome is that they can also increase the risk of relapsing.
  • Negative self-talk. Constantly criticizing yourself and engaging in self-destructive thoughts directly undermines the purpose of getting treatment and being in recovery in the first place. You sought help because you realized where your life was heading and wanted it to go in another direction- a second chance. Speaking meanly to yourself is only going to discourage you and have you undermine your resiliency.
  • Neglecting self-care. Ignoring your physical and emotional well-being, such as neglecting hygiene, healthy eating, or exercise, can be a disastrous loss of structure. Feeling frazzled and disorganized can lead you to feel a loss of control. If you start to believe that you no longer have agency over your life, it can be difficult to maintain the motivation to stay sober,
  • Needing external validation. Relying on external validation to feel worthy, rather than cultivating self-worth from within, is a recipe for disaster. It can lead to desperation that results in unhealthy relationships that might be abusive, co-dependent, or otherwise toxic.
  • Lack of boundaries. A lack of self-love can mean you’re vulnerable to allowing others to violate your boundaries. Boundaries are exceptionally important for someone in recovery when it comes to relapse prevention.

How to embrace self-love in recovery

  1. Do something you enjoy

You deserve happiness. Period. Bring joy back into your life by doing at least one pleasurable thing daily. The serotonin boost will make you great in the moment but can strengthen your happiness and emotional resilience in the long term, too. 

  1. Cut back on social media

Social media has its pluses, but it certainly has its downsides, too. Often, it becomes a vessel for comparison that leaves us looking at our own lives through an unfiltered lens that leaves us feeling inadequate to our peers. If you find it difficult to stay away from social media entirely, unfollow or block accounts that leave you feeling anything less than inspired, happy, or joyful. 

  1. Cut off toxic relationships

Think about the people in your life and how you feel when you’re with them. Do you usually end a conversation feeling happy and safe? If not, you might have a toxic person in your life. The key to cutting them off is by setting boundaries. It’s easier said than done since sometimes these people are closest to us. If they can’t be trusted to respect your wishes, sometimes the only alternative is to stay away from them and restrict any communication physically. 

  1. Practice positive affirmations

You eventually internalize what you hear — even when it comes from yourself. Switch your negative talk to positive affirmations, and you’ll see yourself blossom. It can feel silly at first, but there’s plenty of scientific proof backing up the power of positive affirmations and that it can change how you see yourself for the better. 

  1. Focus on the present

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the unpleasantness of the past. Ruminating on things you’ve already done and can’t change will only serve to distress you. Instead, focus on the here and now and how you plan to make the future better and brighter. 

  1. Celebrate your wins

Having addiction as part of your past doesn’t mean that you can’t take pride in your accomplishments. Make a point of celebrating big and small wins. The sense of accomplishment is a great source of momentum to keep you moving forward and also put in perspective how much you’ve accomplished — and can continue to accomplish! Self-love can be a difficult concept for someone in recovery. When we struggle with addiction, we often lose sight of our self-worth and neglect our own needs. Shame, fear, and other negative emotions caused by social stigma can make us feel unworthy of thinking positively about ourselves. There’s life to be lived after addiction. Find a drug treatment center near you to begin a new, loving chapter of your life.