Low self-esteem is a common problem among addicts, and one that does not miraculously go away as soon as a programme of rehabilitation has been completed. If you are in recovery, you may feel inadequate when comparing yourself to those around you. This is a common reaction. You may feel as though you just do not measure up to your siblings or friends, and you are worried about how your life is going to pan out.
The truth is that many addicts will feel inadequate, and this is not because they are not smart enough or do not have any talent. The reason they feel this way is because they have set impossibly high standards for themselves. They often believe that others have these unrealistically high expectations of them too and find it very hard to live up to them.
The nature of the addict is to underestimate their qualities while often overestimating the qualities of others. They look at those around them and see them as smarter, more talented, happier, richer and better-looking, even if this is not the case.
It is important to work with your counsellor on your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. You need to learn to love and accept yourself and to see how valuable you are to others.
How to Improve Your Self-Esteem
- The most important thing you can do right now is to stay sober. By doing this, others will respect you and will appreciate how hard you are working to live a clean, healthy life. Join a 12-step support programme and, as you work your way through the steps, you can begin to improve your feelings of self-worth. You will then be able to help others through their journeys.
- You are not a bad person, and you need to remember this. You have been affected by a terrible illness that you had no control over. Your illness caused you to act in a way that you would not have done had you not been ill. You did not choose to become an addict, and you did not choose to act in a destructive manner. You were ill and you are now trying to get better.
- Look for the good in yourself and try not to focus on any negatives. Write down your strengths and weaknesses and you may be surprised to find that your strengths far outweigh your weaknesses.
- Do not break promises that you make. This includes promises you make to yourself. You need to be true to your word so that you can start trusting and respecting yourself. Once you can do this, others will then feel the same way about you.
- Spend time with those that you respect and that you can learn from. These individuals should accept you for who you are and should care about you. They should be people who will tell you when you are acting in a selfish manner and who will not be fooled by you.
- Make amends to those you have hurt. Guilt is a terrible emotion that can make your feelings of low self-esteem more pronounced. Getting rid of your guilty feelings will help you to improve your feelings of self-worth.
- Learn to like yourself again. Look after your health by eating well and exercising. Do this because you want to be healthy and because you want to look good for yourself and not for others. Try not to compare yourself to others because everyone is different. Love yourself for who you are and for what you have achieved. You have done so well to get this far, so keep pushing and live the sober life you deserve.