Shame and poor self-image are common problems for people who have struggled with addiction. Many people with substance use disorders have a history of childhood abuse or neglect. They often carry excessive guilt over some trauma they have experienced. Their feelings of shame may have been compounded by their behavior during active addiction. Unfortunately, shame and addiction form a vicious cycle, each making the other worse. To really turn things around, you have to start seeing yourself as someone who deserves happiness. That can seem like an impossible task if you’re still in active addiction or just starting recovery. Here are some ways to recover your sense of self-worth.
See a Therapist
Feeling worthless, feeling ashamed, and feeling guilty are issues you should take seriously. Those feeling crush people. The issues behind these feelings are often deeply rooted and complex. If you’re feeling that way, talk to a therapist as soon as possible. Men are especially reluctant to seek help for mental health issues, having been taught from a young age to keep their problems to themselves, don’t show weakness, don’t talk about their feelings, and so on. The fact is that if you’re living with shame or feelings of worthlessness, you need to talk to someone.
For many therapists, their goal is to help their clients be more accepting and compassionate toward themselves. We often internalize and amplify the critical voices of our parents, teachers, and peers and then tell ourselves that these are just harsh truths we have to accept. However, it’s important to ask yourself: Has beating yourself up worked? Has it brought you to where you want to be in life? Probably not. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are not about letting yourself off the hook. They simply allow you to acknowledge that you’re human, you will make mistakes, and you have value even if you’re imperfect. We’re typically much harder on ourselves than we are on the people we care about. Try extending some of the compassion you have for friends and relatives to yourself and see what happens.
Watch out for Cognitive Traps
As noted above, we often beat ourselves up while telling ourselves we need to face harsh truths. However, self-condemnation is often fraught with distorted thinking. For example, people with low self-esteem often discount the positive. They may have accomplished many good things but they come up with reasons why each of those good things “doesn’t count.” Another common distortion is over-generalization. Something goes wrong and you think, “I’m such a loser,” or “I can’t do anything right” based only on that one example. Taking a more objective view that acknowledges your successes as well as your failures is both more true and makes you feel better about yourself and your hopes for the future.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently.
No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474