Updated on 1/31/2023
Valentine’s Day is the time of year when people profess their romantic love for one another. But when was the last time you showed love for yourself? One of the most lasting and debilitating side effects of addiction and chronic alcoholism is that it can strip you of your self-compassion and love for yourself. This Valentine’s Day and beyond, why not take the opportunity to learn to love yourself again?
Changing the Messages About You
Within substance abuse, your mind tends to create messages of shame, guilt and self-loathing. Some of these messages come from the substance use itself, because of the power it has over you. Some of the messages come from shame and guilt surrounding your behaviors when you use substances. Some of the messages come from the beliefs of others because society has created shame and stigma around substance abuse that are just not true.
This month is the perfect time to change the messages that your mind is sending to you every day. It is an opportunity to peel away the shame, guilt and self-loathing and fall in love with yourself again because:
- You are a survivor.
- You are working toward lifelong recovery.
- You are a warrior.
- You are an incredible human being who is resilient and fiercely working to live your very best life.
- You are strong.
- Your mistakes do not define you; your willingness to wake up each day and do better is what defines you.
- You are amazing.
- You are a hero in your own life, and you are setting an example for change in others.
These are the kinds of messages that you can send yourself now, on Valentine’s Day and every day of the year because they are true. Everyone who is in alcohol or drug addiction recovery is all of these things and more.
Learning to Accept Yourself
One of the most difficult tasks in the recovery process is learning to accept yourself again. There are parts of you that you don’t like, or maybe even that others don’t like. Maybe your recovery did not succeed the first try, or even after multiple tries. But your addiction relapse gives you the chance to try again. There are parts of you that are good, and maybe you even realize that there are parts of you that are great. Learning to accept yourself is about seeing all of you, the parts that you do and don’t like about yourself.
Self-acceptance is difficult for human beings because we have a natural tendency to only focus on negative perceptions of ourselves. The truth is, though, that every human being has qualities of worth, things that make you unique and things that bless the lives of others. Combined with the traits you don’t like, all of these qualities help to make you who you are. When you are willing to accept yourself as is, then you give yourself the permission and power to change the things that you like less about yourself–the opportunity to improve yourself.
How many people judge themselves every day? How many people spend their time and energy blaming themselves, feeling guilty for things that are in the past or no longer in their control, and seeing only the negatives when they look in the mirror? What would your life look like if you spent equal time judging yourself for all the good things you did each day? What if you were compassionate for your mistakes and noticed your strengths as much as your weaknesses? Learning how to beat addictions is such a difficult process. The fact that you are willing to learn deserves a lot of compassion from yourself.
Self-compassion is often not innate. This is a habit that you must learn and cultivate within yourself. In addiction recovery, you learn to practice self-care: to be compassionate and do something every day to feed your soul, to improve yourself, to love yourself. All these practices will help you not only to love yourself again but also to help prevent addiction relapse.
Recognizing the Love You Have for Yourself
Your addiction or chronic alcoholism and the behaviors that come with it should not be allowed to define you. You are so much more than a person who once abused substances. You are the person who overcame these things, the person who loves themselves enough to change your life. Just by showing up in your recovery, you are showing that you love yourself. Recognize that you are more than just the things you don’t like about yourself. You are human and have great qualities. You can love yourself without liking everything you say or do. You can look in the mirror and be happy with the good things you do every day.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to learn to love yourself again. By changing the messages your brain sends to you every day and learning to accept and have compassion for yourself, you can fall in love with who you are. At DiscoveryMD, we can help you to rediscover the love you have within you for the person you are inside. We work with people to learn how to beat addictions and how to prevent addiction relapse. Our kind, compassionate staff can teach you how to find the compassion inside of you, and how to accept yourself for who you are. One of the most important skills you can learn in addiction recovery is to practice self-compassion. When you learn how to accept yourself for who you are, as is, you can learn to love yourself again. Contact us today.