Recovery from substance abuse can be overwhelming. After all, you’re quitting something your mind and body have come to depend on, dealing with the guilt and shame of past behavior, and doing your best not to fall back into bad habits. It should come as no surprise that the daily ups and downs you experience battling these demons will put your self-confidence through the wringer.
Engaging in regular activities to build your self-esteem is not nice to have when going through addiction treatment; it’s a necessity. Our staff here at Renaissance Ranch have personal experience in just how deep you can sink in your fight to recover from substance abuse.
“We have all been there and done that, so we know what it’s like,” said Preston Dixon, COO at the Ranch. “That’s why the foundation for our faith-based recovery programs in Utah and Idaho is the belief that there is a God and that He loves us unconditionally.” Dixon continued, “I’m a son of God, and as His son, I know He’ll be in my corner, no matter what. That knowledge is a powerful self-esteem builder.”
Substance abuse treatment is challenging for men, as they often have long-held stereotypes of uncomplaining stoicism. “Men are supposed to be strong, unwavering, the ones to hold everything together and come to the rescue for others, you know,” Dixon explained. “Recovery takes a lot of humility, patience, and faith that a greater power will rescue you. For many of us, that’s a novel concept – that it’s OK to be weak and not in control and that we can put our trust in God to save us.”
The Ranch, a Christian-based rehab for men, weaves confidence-building exercises into its entire recovery process. These include offering time for daily introspection and meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) activities, outdoor recreation, and participation in group support sessions. With this in mind, our experienced counselors compiled a list of 5 critical actions that you can do every day to build your self-esteem while in recovery:
1. Practice Mindfulness
As a faith-based treatment center, we naturally believe that prayer – both privately uttered and shared by a group – offers us a powerful way to connect with the deity and remind us of our value in God’s eyes. Next time you pray, ask God how He feels about you. You might be surprised at the rush of emotion you experience as you discover how intentionally and unconditionally He loves you.
Engaging in meditation, yoga or tai chi, or simply walking through nature also represent great ways to practice mindfulness. One particularly uplifting exercise is gratitude journaling. When we stop to think about and write down everything for which we are thankful, either overall or only for that specific day, we can’t help but feel loved and blessed.
2. Create a Personal Affirmation
Affirmations are positive statements you say to yourself and are a form of therapeutic self-talk. They don’t have to be long or wordy, just impactful. Some examples of affirmations are, ‘I am enough,’ ‘I choose to react positively,’ and ‘I deserve to be loved.’
You may not believe your affirmation at first, but as you continue to recite it in the mirror daily, you will change how you think and feel about yourself for the better.
3. Ask for Forgiveness and Forgive Yourself
In Christian tradition, it’s easy to think of repentance as a punishment or otherwise negative process, but it isn’t. Because Jesus Christ took upon Himself all our sins, mistakes, and infirmities, we can seek daily forgiveness. Think of it as a refreshing shower that washes away the grime and stains of the day. Regular repentance allows us to present ourselves before God and ask Him to forgive our missteps and help us become better people.
In this process, we must remember that once God forgives us, we must also forgive ourselves. If He, as the scriptures say, “remembers our sins no more,” then we can’t continue to beat ourselves up over them, either. What’s done is done – we can only repent, make restitution as best we can, allow ourselves to be forgiven, and move forward.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
Whether we like it or not, we reflect those influences and people with whom we surround ourselves. For example, it’s easy to feel like a failure if the people around you continually remind you of your past mistakes. By the same token, it’s challenging to have hope for a sober future if you remain with a group of people that refuses to stop abusing substances and repeatedly challenges the value you place on recovery.
In recovery, making friends with like-minded people who share similar goals is critical. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of life after treatment ends. Develop a post-treatment plan that includes attending support groups, social interaction with those you met while in care, and continued family therapy so your loved ones at home can have the tools they need to be positive and supportive.
Involving yourself in a recovery alumni group is an excellent opportunity to maintain those connections you made in treatment. The Ranch created the Band of Brothers to provide clients graduating from residential treatment with a ready-made social support group. The Band of Brothers hosts weekly meetings, quarterly retreats, annual events, and regular service activities designed to help one another stay sober, accountable, and connected.
5. Do Something Kind for Someone Every Day
This could be as simple as holding the door open for the person behind you, smiling back at your Starbucks Barista, or thanking a military veteran for their service. You can also serve as a regular volunteer, such as a tutor for disadvantaged children or serving food at a homeless shelter. Becoming a peer counselor is one of the best ways to help others with substance abuse issues.
Fortunately, we have ample opportunities to show kindness daily and in all we do. The world is a sad place right now, with many angry, bitter people who need someone to show them kindness, even if it’s undeserved at the moment. Just like a smile, kindness is contagious. Pass it along, and you’ll see how it makes you happier, too.
The first step in restoring self-esteem shattered by substance abuse is to get help. If you or a loved one is suffering, call us at 855-736-7262.