We’ve already discussed that this May is Mental Health Month, and have covered some of the concerns specific to men’s experience of mental illness. Today, we’d like to explore the value of self-esteem: a topic often ignored by men’s health advocates, but one of utmost importance.
WHY DOES SELF-ESTEEM MATTER?
Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s worth or abilities, and it includes the notion of self-respect. To put it simply, whether you realize it or not, self-esteem is at the heart of everything you do. Beyond encompassing how you feel about yourself, it also influences your choices and decisions. This concept is how you measure your capability to perform difficult tasks, take calculated risks, and delineate your personal value.
Those with high self-esteem are motivated to care for themselves, strive to fulfill personal goals, and regard themselves as worthy of good fortune that comes their way. On the other end of the spectrum, people with low self-esteem don’t believe that they deserve to be happy, and they don’t see themselves as capable of accomplishing much at all. They may have similar aspirations to those with high self-esteem, but they’re much less likely to go after them.
SELF-ESTEEM IN ADDICTION RECOVERY
As you begin your new life without drugs and alcohol, self-esteem is one of the most crucial things to rebuild. Addiction robs us of our self-worth, and low levels of this can even push us into addiction after a period of recovery. Past choices and actions from when you were actively using can create feelings of shame and guilt that must be overcome. By taking care of yourself and nurturing the beginnings of healthy self-esteem, you increase the likelihood of satisfaction in (sustained!) addiction recovery.
OUR TOP 5 SELF-ESTEEM EXERCISES
- List 10 things you love about yourself. When your self-concept is negative or neutral, it can be challenging to remember that you possess many great qualities. Try sitting down with a pencil and paper to list 10 of your favorite things about yourself. Are you a great listener? A dedicated friend? This simple, 5-minute activity can boost your self-image and remind you of your worth.
- What are you looking forward to? Take a moment to think about exciting things coming up. Are you excited for the weekend, good weather, or an upcoming event? Is there something you’ve been wanting to do that you can work towards? Create some steps to get there! Now that you’re in recovery, you can take your future into your own hands – and make it one you’re looking forward to.
- Try a gratitude exercise. This is another quick list that can turn your day around. At the top of the page, write, “Today, I am grateful for…” and begin to reflect on what you’re lucky to have. These can include your number of days sober, support network, or even a roof over your head. Think about the steps you’ve taken to accumulate them. By taking the time to notice and celebrate the small things, your perspective will shift for the better.
- What do you gain strength from? Think about the people and places that build you up. Does your sponsor always know just what to say? Do you feel more energized after picking up the house or going for a quick run? Are there certain hobbies or pastimes that make your heart light up? Remember the things that give you joy and reaffirm your sobriety, then make an effort to incorporate them into your life more often.
- Give yourself 3 compliments. Reflect on your wins, your personality, and your recent behavior to come up with three great compliments for yourself. Say them in the mirror. If you find yourself thinking negatively throughout the day, remind yourself of these affirmations and stand firm in the knowledge that the bad feelings will pass – the good things reflect who you really are.
AUSTIN, TX ADDICTION TREATMENT SERVICES
BRC Recovery’s integrated treatment program prioritizes self-esteem in addiction recovery. If you or a loved one could benefit from psychotherapy (DBT, CBT, MIT), life skills training, and individual coaching, we encourage you to reach out today.