Why Self-Compassion Is Needed

Addiction recovery is typically not the only issue that people may face; alongside it tends to come with this need to fill a “void” in one’s life – and unhealthy coping mechanisms can only perpetuate these negative cycles. It is often once a person has sought out recovery that they begin to realize just how hard they’ve been on their mind, body, and spirit. For some, substances have served as a way to “tune out” what has come from trauma and other stressors, and even someone who has no original intentions of becoming addicted to substances can find themselves in this difficult position. Continue reading to learn more about self-compassion in recovery.

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Blaming Oneself

It’s easy for those in addiction recovery to get started on this endless cycle of shame and guilt, and they may even spend hours – and years – trying to understand how addiction crept its way into their lives. If this is something you can relate to, it’s important to recognize if you’ve been harsh on yourself thus far – because self-blame can go a long way in bringing us down in recovery.

I’ve messed up so bad. There’s no way I’m ever going to get back my loved ones.”

“I’m never going to make it.”

“I’ve ruined everything – there’s nothing I can do now.”

“I’ve deserved everything that’s happened to me.”

Previous studies have found that in recovery, we may find ourselves placing blame – rather than taking responsibility – for our addiction. Rather than telling yourself how horrible you are for having done what you’ve done, take a minute to recognize what you’ve done that’s been hurtful both to yourself and to those around you. Take responsibility for the actions you’ve had control over and actively choose to begin working towards a healthier, happier you; this is the only way you’ll begin to see a positive shift in perspective.

Practicing self-Compassion

Self-compassion is about being kind to oneself in spite of challenging situations; if you’re able to practice this more often, you’ll find that you’re more motivated and able to reach your sobriety goals.

When we focus our thoughts on blaming ourselves, we’re coming from a mean place. We’re pushing ourselves down and making ourselves feel bad, but what good does that do? Self-compassion helps build up our self-worth – and increases our compassion for ourselves and others – which can translate in some wonderfully positive ways.  You can take responsibility without placing blame on yourself – and that will get you much farther in recovery because you’ll stop trying to hold onto the excuses of the past and instead start working towards building a better future. 

Being Self-Compassionate In Recovery 

For years, researchers and psychologists have tried to study the impacts of self-compassion on mental illness recovery; they’ve found that when we practice greater self-compassion, we’re more likely to experience fewer symptoms associated with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, self-compassion provides us with the strength we need to work through challenging emotions – and it ultimately sets us up for success.

It’s not uncommon for those in addiction recovery to have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, and in many cases, self-compassion can be used to combat and help us become more resilient to the issues that we’ve faced in our lives thus far.

When we apply self-compassion, however, that underlying, negative tone playing over and over in the back of our mind begins to change. Life becomes more tolerable, and we begin to focus more on what we can do rather than what happened in the past. We suddenly have more love for ourselves and others, and this widens up so many opportunities in various different areas of our lives. 

If you want to apply more self-compassion in recovery, consider the following tips:

  • Remind yourself that you’re human and adjust your expectations to meet that reality. Don’t place such high expectations on yourself – because you’re a work in progress.
  • Keep inventory of how you’re thinking about yourself. Rather than placing so much meaning to the negative thoughts, you’re experiencing, allow them to pass by and simply observe them.
  • Practice self-care, daily. Take care of yourself through hygiene, sleep, exercise, hobbies and more.
  • Be kind to others. Practice random acts of kindness and watch how amazing you feel after you make someone else smile.
  • Celebrate how far you’ve come. Recognize that recovery is a lifelong process and that you’re currently doing the best you can. Make a vow to treat every day as Day 1.

It’s time to take a break and give yourself some self-love. If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Renewal Lodge today – it’s never too late to begin moving forward from the harshness of the past and into the wonderful opportunities of the future.

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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