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Overcoming Low Self-Esteem in Recovery

The journey of recovery has many ups and downs. Many people who are seeking better lives for themselves are also faced with feelings of low self-esteem. When you learn how to overcome these feelings, you will be able to move forward with more confidence during your recovery journey.

How Low Self-Esteem Impacts Your Life

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Health Psychology defines self-esteem as “an individual’s self-perception of his/her abilities, skills, and overall qualities that guides and/or motivates specific cognitive processes and behaviors.”

Low self-esteem has been linked with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. A lack of self-esteem is also a major factor for many who have experienced trauma.

According to The Sociological Quarterly, low self-esteem “leads to delinquency, poor health, and limited economic prospects.” On the other hand, high self-esteem can predict better relationships, educational milestones, and successful job performance.

Self-Esteem and Recovery

The Journal of Health Psychology article notes that research over the years has found that people with chronic illness tend to have lower self-esteem. Since addiction is also considered to be a chronic illness, the same can be said for those in recovery.

Childhood Trauma

Many people who develop addiction come from an already-established background of low self-esteem. They may have experienced trauma as a child, like neglect, abuse, or even bullying. After experiencing these events, a child can form a negative mindset and beliefs like “I’m not loved” or “I’m not worthy.”

Without proper healing and interventions, children can take these beliefs with them well into adulthood. They may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of seeking approval from peers. They may also turn to substances to self-medicate feelings of low self-esteem. Sometimes, individuals may even use substances as a way to “punish” themselves because they feel worthless or unlovable. If you suspect that these issues apply to you, you’re not alone.

Guilt and Shame in Addiction

You may experience feelings of extreme shame and guilt for using substances in the first place. If you had low self-esteem before using substances, these feelings can be exacerbated during recovery.

According to a 2022 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry, “toxic shame and chronic guilt are major reasons for all addictive behaviors.” Even though they’re often used interchangeably, shame and guilt have different meanings. Shame is usually related to the self, which can manifest as a sense of being a bad person. This goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem.

Guilt, on the other hand, is more focused on behavior. When you engage in drug use, for example, you might feel guilty. Then, instead of facing these feelings head-on, you may choose to use substances again as a way to self-medicate. This can lead to a dangerous and vicious cycle.

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

It’s important to remember that addiction does not make you a bad person. Even if you’ve experienced negative effects from addiction like job loss, legal issues, or broken relationships, your self-worth is still not defined by these things. It is never too late to start over and heal your life.

Acknowledge Your Negative Feelings

The first step in cultivating more positive self-esteem is to sit with your negative feelings. This may sound counterintuitive, but ignoring these feelings will only hurt you more in the long run.

You may want to use a journal and begin writing down all of the feelings that are taking up space in your mind. Getting them out of your head and onto paper can help you begin to regain control.

Release Feelings Through the Body

You may also want to explore methods to overcome negative feelings and past traumas in the body. Somatic therapy, for example, is an excellent tool to help you process these feelings and emotions on an energetic level. This can help you release any attachments and regain a sense of confidence and control.

Other body-focused methods include therapies like acupuncture, breathwork, sound healing, and more.

Practice Self-Love and Care

The more you learn to love yourself, the more success you will find in recovery. Cultivating a new self-care routine will not only help your self-esteem but also absorb the idle time you have now that you’re not using substances.

Self-love routines can include nature walks, soothing baths, or reading your favorite book before bed instead of scrolling on your phone. You can also recite positive affirmations of self-love first thing in the morning when you wake up. This can help you start your day on a positive note as you put yourself first.

Explore Your Interests

Now that you’re in recovery, it’s a great time to begin exploring your interests and determining the activities you enjoy. You may want to pursue something new like blogging, art, or crafting. Having strong interests and hobbies you enjoy can help bring a sense of purpose to your life.

Overcoming a low view of yourself is a process that happens one step at a time. Make sure to give yourself compassion as you go through this journey. Also, take note of how you’re starting to feel better about yourself. Acknowledging that can reinforce new beliefs in your mind that you are worthy of being healthy, confident, and having a life you love.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem at The Guest House

Helping you cultivate higher self-esteem is one of our most important missions here at The Guest House.

Our trauma-specific program will help you start facing your negative thoughts and feelings safely and effectively. We also offer many different body-focused therapies to help you heal, like somatic therapy and conscious connected breathwork.

The program at The Guest House includes a cutting-edge blend of traditional and holistic modalities. These will enable you to heal your mind, body, and soul as you learn to love yourself again. Here you will build the confidence you need to keep moving forward toward lasting recovery.

Low self-esteem and addiction often go hand-in-hand. However, you can overcome these feelings with the right tools and help. At The Guest House, we offer a wide array of therapies to help you overcome low self-esteem as you heal your mind, body, and spirit. Our trauma-specific program focuses on helping you get to the root of your struggles so you can release them safely and effectively. We offer body-focused modalities like somatic therapy and conscious connected breathwork to help you release trauma and negative feelings on an energetic level. We also offer a broad range of other tools to help you regain your confidence for lasting success. Call us at (855) 483-7800.