The Importance of Being Kind To Yourself

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As children, being kind to others was drilled into us at all times, from daycare to school and back home. We were taught to share, apologize, and do all sorts of nice things to friends and classmates. Regarding ourselves, we were taught to work hard, do better, compete for the best grades, go to college, have a career, buy a house, and all the rest of it.

When we did something others disapproved of, we were shouted at as kids, told off by teachers, or fired by our boss. Is it any wonder things sometimes go awry? Life situations can be incredibly difficult, especially with the pressure of people around us. We may buckle under stress, cave in under another bit of criticism, and eventually seek self-medication by way of pills, illegal drugs, or alcohol addiction.

If being kind to yourself was not on the school curriculum, it may be time to add it to your recovery curriculum. 

Why Is Being Kind to Yourself Important?

Situations will get tough in the real world. After you decide to head into recovery mode, the real work begins. You close the door to substances and will be with a handful of addiction and mental health professionals. This change is good because you are right where you need to be; everyone you make contact with is trying to support you and provides everything you need for success. After all, you know you can’t do this by yourself. 


Along the road to success, we often encounter setbacks. Perhaps a family emergency takes us off track for a while. Maybe an emotional pain takes more time to work through than anticipated. Perhaps this whole recovery thing is taking longer than we thought! Essentially, the success stories make the headlines, not the person still wading through the workload. Our culture doesn’t celebrate being “nearly there.” Working on yourself may be the first thing you have worked toward.  

Be Kind

You have permission to be kind to yourself. Of course, you should still hold yourself accountable; this is not about letting yourself off the hook and enabling addictive behaviors. You are committed to change, but within the mechanics of accountability, appreciate all you are doing and the effort it takes to get there.

Recognize the reasons behind setbacks. Even if you relapse, focus on moving forward. After reaching out for relapse support, focus on why, and learn from the moment. If there was a trigger you were not prepared for, work with your counselor on ways to overcome any further trigger moments. 

Take a Break

Perhaps you plan a reward for yourself. Maybe your reward is an early night with some hot tea and a book, or maybe your reward is a night out at the movie theater with a friend. Take time to reflect on how far you have come from where you started, whether you compare yourself to one week ago, one month ago, or one year ago. Take the time to acknowledge the hard work behind your decision to make a significant change in your life. 

Criticism Free Zone

Supportive feedback and accountability is one thing; criticism is another. If you haven’t already, give yourself permission to remove yourself from people who do nothing other than preside as judges over your choices, your lifestyle, and your attempt at wellness. 

While it is realistic to expect that those who are close to us might have some emotional issues attached to our previous behavior, now is not the right time to address those. If family members need support counseling to address family dynamics, there are programs built around exploring their coping skills and developing constructive response methods. The bottom line is that you need to take care of yourself. It is not selfish; it is lifesaving and necessary. 

Find The Good In Yourself 

Find the good in yourself. Don’t wait for other people to tell you it is there. Close your eyes when taking deep breaths and slowly recite phrases or words that reflect what you desire for yourself in a lasting and sustainable way. Some phrases can include: 

  • I live well
  • I live safely
  • I have excellent health
  • I live with ease in my life
  • I live with a good conscience
  • I am making a difference in my life
  • I am not waiting for others to accept me 

You have permission to be kind to yourself. Hold yourself accountable, but learn to appreciate all you are doing and the effort it takes to walk through your recovery. If you haven’t already, give yourself permission to remove yourself from people who do nothing other than preside as judges over your choices, your lifestyle, and your attempt at wellness. Taking care of yourself is lifesaving and necessary; you don’t need permission from others. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far you are on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you. We treat you with the dignity your life deserves. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035.  It may be the best thing you do for yourself today.


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