When we’re impacted by addiction, it’s easy to feel ashamed of our actions and their impact on others. Everywhere we turn, it’s as though we’re faced with a reminder of the person we would rather not be, rather than the person we’re trying to become. It can be challenging to see beyond where we’re at right now when everything running through our head tells us that we are a failure at life.
Society doesn’t help by stigmatizing addiction as a choice, rather than a disease. Often, society stigmatizes underlying mental health issues that come alongside addiction. Even popular culture is directed toward self-improvement from every angle, whether it is health, fitness, education, or finances. While it is certainly beneficial to strive for improvement, none of these messages tell us that who we are is okay. The underlying message tells us we are not okay, and that we are not enough.
I’m Okay. Really.
Often, the pressure to compete with people at work, school, and other areas of life can produce stress levels that overwhelm us when placed alongside the normal pressures of everyday living. Long before reaching for the alcohol or anxiety meds to make us feel more socially acceptable, we were already feeling inadequate. After drinking too much or realizing we have become too dependent on substances to help leverage us through life, we hate ourselves more, calling ourselves weak, lazy, and incapable of amounting to anything.
Entering addiction rehabilitation—an essential step in recovery—allows us to accept who we are right now, at this moment. It is important to understand that nobody is perfect and that we are adequate as we are right now. This act of self-kindness enables us to come to terms with our mistakes, seeing them as separate from who we are and as something we have the power to remove should we choose to.
Self-kindness permits us to stop fighting the parts of our life we call addiction. It sees addiction as something that passed into our life and can pass out again. And while it is not meant to remove responsibility for our actions, we can look at its impact on ourselves and others with a little more objectivity by understanding our self-worth. In other words, we can recognize it is not all of who we are.
Acceptance can facilitate the power to heal in the following ways:
- It helps us move past hurt and anger. With the right therapy, it can help put depression into perspective.
- Kindness to ourselves has the power to remove anger and self-hatred. When we learn to like ourselves better, we become more willing to trust others and enter into healthy relationships.
- Becoming less judgmental of ourselves helps us understand and gain empathy toward others, directing kindness forward.
- Acceptance also enables us to forgive ourselves. When we know that our actions have directly hurt others, forgiving ourselves can be difficult. Unfortunately, this can spiral into a cycle of more self-hatred, more outward anger as we deflect the hatred of others. This causes more hurt, resulting in further self-medication through addiction. Acceptance is key to forgiveness and moving forward.
How to Get There
Developing self-acceptance is possible as part of our process of addiction recovery. However, arriving at the point where we can accept ourselves during intensive treatment and, importantly, during aftercare takes a willingness to work on ourselves.
Maintaining contact with support groups and therapy sessions is an essential part of the journey in developing the level of self-acceptance we need to forgive ourselves and believe we are good enough.
None of this is meant to undermine any co-occurring disorders that may form an underlying reason for substance misuse. However, therapy will eventually challenge any fixed, negative messages we may have in order to develop greater self-awareness and acceptance.
The following may help us get there:
- Understand it’s okay to be a beginner. Approaching a skill set from scratch as an adult can be difficult. By having a beginner mindset, we release our thoughts from any biases associated with the task. Like a child, we become open to the experience in its pure form, minus preconceived opinions.
- Know we have limitations, and know it’s okay to ask for help. Accepting that we don’t know everything is sometimes hard to accept. However, understanding it is okay to not know something can make us focus on the strengths that we do have. This makes it possible to accept the help we do need without fear of being judged incapable.
Understanding we are enough enables us to frame our addiction as an uninvited intrusion; however, it is not an indictment against us, no more than we would expect someone to hate themselves for having cancer or other diseases. Instead, we can treat and learn to manage addiction as part of our life, not governing it.
Entering addiction rehabilitation, an essential step in recovery is accepting who we are right now. It is to understand we are enough. Self-kindness gives us permission to stop fighting the parts of our life we call addiction. It sees it as something that passed into our life and can pass out again. This act of self-kindness enables us to step over our mistakes, seeing them as separate from who we are, as something we have the power to remove should we choose to. Surrounded by the sublime landscape of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. Against a backdrop of clean, mountain air, your substance abuse or mental health recovery is supported by a range of treatment and aftercare options developed with your needs in mind. Get healthy. Get here. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035 today.