Learning to Love Again: A Guide on Self-love in Recovery

There are a lot of emotions that appear throughout recovery, especially as we discover more about who we are as a person. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking to learn about embarrassing or hurtful things that we said or did while high on substances; for many people, this is a beginning point of shame, anxiety, and fear of abandonment. Nobody enjoys hearing that they’ve hurt people around them, and this can break someone’s self-confidence in recovery if they don’t practice some self-compassion. Self-love in recovery is crucial as we learn to accept the mistakes we’ve made in the past, while also holding onto hope for the future – because improvements are possible.

We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.

Defining Self-Love

Numerous researchers, philosophers, yogis, and mindfulness instructors have researched the very basis of self-love and what that means:

  1. Choosing ourselves, even when it means upsetting others
  2. Saying what’s true for us and remaining authentic
  3. Taking the best care of our mental, physical and spiritual health
  4. Wearing clothes that make us feel good about ourselves
  5. Constructing a life that we can be proud of
  6. Learning to accept all aspects of ourselves, just as we are
  7. Making time to do things that bring us joy
  8. Choosing not to dwell on past mistakes
  9. Trusting one’s path in life
  10. Learning to set boundaries

The human condition is often tempered with this ability to wish and look at all of the things that we can’t have – in an effort to survive, we get pulled into this mindset of negativity, stress, and longing for me. When it all boils down to it, however, where does that take us? How much healing do we truly get from partaking in these painful, wallowing ventures?

Life coaches in the past have even claimed that when they’ve felt at their lowest point in life, that’s when they’ve found that their body is the sickest – and their mind, too. They’ve experienced self-deprecating thoughts, and in these moments, self-love is the only way through it.

Why We Neglect Ourselves

Unfortunately, the path towards self-love is not often pursued as it becomes easier to react to negative emotions such as jealousy, hatred, angst, sadness, and confusion. We may find that even when we’re surrounded by people who believe in our recovery, we feel alone; we shred ourselves to pieces, telling ourselves that we’re not worth much and that there’s no hope for our future. 

Studies in the past have shown that this type of thinking is part of our biological instincts – to focus more on the negative than the good, as a way of survival. The problem with this is that in modern life, we’ve started to focus on more negative things than we actually need to. When we give more weight to our flaws and shortcomings, we’re holding ourselves back from experiencing the very real, very wonderful qualities that deserve some recognition – and this holds us back from growing and getting better over time. The reality is that addiction can destroy many aspects of life – but when we take away self-love, too, we’re simply not going to thrive. 

Self-criticism, up close, can take a major toll on our mind, body, and spirit. When we find ourselves ruminating in thoughts of negativity, it’s easy to find that harmful areas of our lives become inflamed – and in addition to weakening the immune system and making us more susceptible to chronic illness, it also accelerates aging. 

When we neglect self-love in recovery, we tend to:

  •     Focus on thoughts that promote relapse rather than recovery
  •     Pull away from people in social situations
  •     Avoid participating in and attending much-needed recovery-related activities
  •     Experience more self-doubt with our potential success in recovery
  •     Give in to temptations easier, which can promote relapse experiences
  •     Act aggressively and angrily more often
  •     And more

Neglect can tear us apart from our own sense of wellbeing, and this can further damage our progress in recovery along with hinder us in our ability to develop a strong support system meant to motivate and inspire us on the way.

Applying Self-Love to Addiction Recovery

If you’re ready to apply more self-love to your recovery, you must know that you need to practice self-love even on the days you don’t feel like it – and while that may be the hardest part, it’s worth it. Begin telling yourself positive affirmations, such as: 

I have faith in my recovery journey and I will continue working hard.

There are so many wonderful people I’ve met who believe in me. 

I’m a strong person and I can get through whatever obstacles come my way.

Work with your healthcare team, your therapist and/or your sponsor to help remind you to replace those negative thoughts with more positive, productive ones.

If you’re ready to seek help for addiction recovery, speak with a professional from Burning Tree today – it’s never too late to seek the help you need. 

Along with helping to treat various mental illnesses and psychological issues, mindfulness can be a great tool for battling addiction and building a healthy lifestyle.  A holistic treatment center can teach you these and other strategies for creating a happy and fulfilling life beyond addiction. At Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals ready to coach each client through the 12-steps and beyond.  By structuring treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders, Burning Tree facilitates an environment of healing and holistic wellness. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives through high accountability and life skills that foster lasting sobriety.  We specialize in treatment for the chronic relapser and believe that with the right tools, you can put an end to the cycle of addiction.

Find Healing At Renewal Lodge

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Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness
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