How To Boost Your Self-Esteem In Early Recovery

Feeling like your self-esteem is shot? Facing a lot of negative self-talk that’s bringing you down? It’s important not to beat yourself up over every little mistake, particularly in early recovery when you’re bound to slip up. When you have low self-esteem, you may become depressed, enter into abusive relationships, or fail to meet your potential. These are all risk factors that can lead to relapse, so it’s important to work on building self-esteem and self-respect in early recovery. A healthy self-esteem can protect you from being overwhelmed by shame and selfhatred, helping to keep you on the right track. Plus, it’s much easier to engage in positive activities when you feel good about yourself! So, how can you boost your self-esteem?

Challenge negative self-talk. Catch yourself when you say things like, “I’m a total failure,” or “I’m worthless.” Is this really accurate? Can you find evidence against these beliefs? Chances are, you can. Try using more balanced statements that acknowledge your shortcomings while leaving room for improvement. Isn’t “I made a mistake and I’m working on improving” much nicer to hear? Give yourself credit for trying rather than beating yourself up if you haven’t achieved a certain goal. Acknowledge what you have accomplished and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Spend time with yourself. Try meditation or mindfulness to bring awareness to your body and to get in touch with who you really are. Engage in self-care. Show yourself you are worthy of your own love and take care of your body in kind, gentle ways. Exercise daily, eat healthily, get plenty of sleep; you owe your mind and body rest and rejuvenation. And fun! Get a manicure, take a nap, buy new clothes, go on a hike. Do something purely for the sake of enjoyment!

Stop with the comparisons. Don’t judge yourself based on standards you see in others. You’ll only make yourself feel worse! You never know what those “better” people are struggling with, or how their experience differs from your own. Our journeys are all different; no two will look the same! Affirm yourself. Acknowledge the qualities you like about yourself on a daily basis to help boost your self-esteem. Finding positive attributes will help you feel more confident about yourself, which will carry into other areas of your life. Take time to reflect on things you do well and give acknowledgement to your accomplishments.

Practice self-acceptance. You’re going to make mistakes – and it’s okay! Messing up is part of being human. The point is to practice compassion for yourself in times of struggle and learn from where you went wrong. Try to see the good in every situation and realize that you’ve tried your best, even if the outcome is not what you anticipated. Forgive yourself. You’re not perfect. You make mistakes. There’s not one person in recovery who hasn’t. Learn to let go of perceived failings and instead focus on the possibilities ahead of you. Acknowledge mistakes you’ve made, make amends, and move forward. Just take it one day at a time!

Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are unrealistic or unattainable. Break your goals down into manageable chunks and go after them one by one. Congratulate yourself whenever you do meet a goal and acknowledge how far you’ve come.

Focus on the positive. Take inventory of your skills and strengths, especially the ones that have helped you to overcome challenges. Focus on what’s going well in your life – friends, family, school, work – look at where you are today versus where you were in your addiction. Remember, it’s all relative!

Surround yourself with positive people. Choose friends who lift you up instead of dragging you down, who are as enthusiastic about your recovery as you are. Tackling challenges is so much easier when you have a support system in place that believes in you! Let their optimism rub off on you and watch your self-esteem soar.

Self-esteem won’t emerge overnight. It’s going to take a commitment to yourself and recovery to rebuild a strong sense of self. You’re working hard to achieve your goals in sobriety – giving acknowledgement to your efforts can help boost your self-esteem. Some days will be better than others – love yourself regardless. Remember, self-esteem comes from within. You own how you live your life. Be proactive about building self-confidence. Make improving your self-esteem a top priority. Your recovery will thank you!

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