One of the causalities of alcohol or drug abuse is your self-image. You now see yourself as somebody who uses these substances, finding it almost impossible to imagine yourself any other way. The good news is that you will be able to change your self-image, with this new you being the type of person who is more likely to find real happiness and fulfilment.
What is Self-Image?
Self-image is the internal picture you have of yourself. It is also how you believe other people see you. Self-image changes over time; for example, you see yourself differently today than you did when you were a child. What happens with problems like addiction though is that your self-image can become solidified. You then become convinced that you are a substance abuser so it is not going to be possible for you to change this situation.
Your self-image actually comes from three different sources. The first is the belief you have about yourself. You also develop self-image due to the way other people interact with you, and your beliefs about how they perceive you.
It is common for people to confuse self-image with self-esteem; these two are related, but they are not referring to the same thing. Your self-esteem is the value you place upon yourself, so if you have high self-esteem it means you value yourself very highly. Your self-image is more about the adjectives you use to describe yourself, for example attractive, clumsy, funny, intelligent, easily addicted, etc.
Self-Image and Addiction
The process of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs has a significant impact on your self-image. You begin to see yourself as somebody who needs to use these substances in order to cope with things. As your situation deteriorates, you begin to ascribe new negative adjectives to describe yourself, such as weak-willed, bad person, out-of-control, unlucky, addicted, unlovable, and unreliable. This new self-image supports your life in addiction and it is what keeps you trapped.
New Self-Image in Recovery
If you take the same self-image you have as a substance abuser with you into recovery, it will be almost impossible for you to break away from addiction. It is vital for you to develop a new self-image, which will include things like:
- being capable of taking charge of your own life
- being able to change
- being willing to face challenges
- being courageous enough to do the right things
- being fearlessly honest
- being committed to sobriety
- being willing to do whatever it takes
- being reliable
- being a good person who is trying to do the right things.
How to Develop a New Self-Image in Recovery
Below are a few ideas for how you can begin to build a better self-image in recovery:
- The first thing you have to do is to challenge all of the negative aspects of your current self-image (for example, are you really a bad person?). This is usually easier with the help of a therapist.
- Start making positive improvements to your life; every time you do this, it alters your self-image slightly.
- There are special techniques, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, that are great for teaching you how to change your self-image.
- Spend time with people who have the type of self-image that you aspire to; humans tend to become the average of the five people they spend most of their time with.
- Work with a therapist to discover what caused you to develop such a poor self-image in the first place; you want to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.