Whether you’re single or not, this Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to focus on self-love. Many people come into sobriety with low self-esteem. They may have spent years using drugs or alcohol to build artificial self-confidence when real self-love was lacking. They may have stopped taking care of themselves during active addiction, sending themselves a message that they don’t deserve care. They may carry shame about things they did while under the influence of substances.
I went through many of these things when I first got sober. Today, five and a half years in, I have a stronger sense of self-worth than I’ve ever had. Some of it was a natural extension of being sober; the longer I spent in recovery, the more I could trust my decisions and the prouder I felt. Still, a lot of it took active work.
It can be hard to look at things from a nuanced perspective, but almost everything in life is complex. That includes you. Just because you may have done things you regret in active addiction doesn’t mean you are those things. Recognizing that you are not at fault for your addiction does not mean absolving yourself of accountability. Owning up to mistakes means you are growing, because you are not your addiction.
How Can You Build Self-Worth in Recovery?
Therapy can help you challenge negative thought patterns that affect your self-worth. Many of us have stories running through our heads throughout the day; sometimes they go unchallenged—or really, unnoticed. Your therapist can help you recognize your self-talk and shift it.
Pushing away or hating your “flaws” is not true self-love. Building self-love is about accepting all of who you are, strengths and weaknesses. Regularly meditating can help you learn acceptance, since it’s about sitting with your thoughts and allowing them to be.
Take Care of Yourself on Valentine’s Day
That’s all the long-term stuff, but how can you show yourself care on Valentine’s Day itself? First, you can start one of these practices as a promise to yourself. For instance, you could make a meditation schedule, or research therapists.
Another thing you can do, if you want to get Valentine’s-Day-y about it, is write yourself a love letter. It might sound cheesy, but it’s sort of like a gratitude list for the qualities you admire in yourself. Most of us don’t take the time to think about the parts of ourselves we appreciate; this is a concrete way to do so.
You can also continue with Valentine’s Day traditions and buy yourself flowers, or any type of plant. The way we treat our external environment affects our mental state. Taking care of our surroundings—by paying attention to details that bring us joy—is an act of self-care. Especially during COVID, and particularly if you live alone, plants are great to have around. I know several people who have developed a pretty intense plant habit during the pandemic.
Whatever you feel about Valentine’s Day—whether you think it’s a sham or it’s your favorite holiday—today can be a reminder that recovery brings you home to yourself.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build self-worth in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.