Practicing Compassion for Yourself: Dealing With Addiction From the Inside
The journey of recovery is not for the faint of heart. It requires you to recommit every day, every hour, sometimes every minute to staying sober.
It can also be an isolating effort, even with the best support. Former party friends may not understand your journey while family and friends suddenly forget how to act normally around you. Finally, it can be hard to make new friends as you are still trying to get to know yourself all over again. All this and yet there is the battle you fight in your own head – praying for the strength to stay on your path while feeling deeply alone on your unique journey.
Perhaps without the drugs or alcohol, you’re spending even more time in your head – a place you once went to great lengths to avoid. You are suddenly a thinking and feeling machine, acutely aware that so many people are struggling with something in their own lives.
The thing about spending so much time listening to those “voices” in our heads is, we can be pretty mean to ourselves, and say some awful things we would never say to anyone else. It’s important to practice self-compassion consciously and become your own biggest cheerleader.
The Power of Your Why
One of the most compelling ways to stay committed to your recovery journey is to remind yourself why you embarked on sobriety in the first place. Was it to be there for your kids? Or because you want to live life filter-free? Whatever the reason, make sure you are re-connecting to your Why regularly to encourage you to keep going even when times are especially tough. Some people put a reminder on their phone, a sticky note on the bathroom mirror, or other messages in visual places. Keep your reason for sobriety at the forefront of your mind.
Most people are harder on themselves than they would be on a friend or loved one. This is especially true when we consider the way we speak to ourselves in our heads. Ever called yourself “stupid” for making a simple mistake? That’s a great example of harsh self-talk that can become damaging over time.
Make a concerted effort to raise your awareness about how you speak to yourself. Are you judging yourself? Telling yourself that sobriety is too hard? When you hear yourself talking in this way, replace the phrase with a positive thought, often called a “mantra.” This mantra can be just a word or two to remind yourself of your progress. “One day at a time” is such a mantra. It helps to have a few pre-written to quickly transform negative thoughts into positive ones.
One way to turn negative thoughts into positive ones is to get into the habit of being grateful for what you do have, or what is going well. It’s easy to focus on what’s not working – we are wired to look for negative things. However, when we turn our thoughts to the positive, those things that are going well, we become more motivated to keep going.
Whenever you find yourself focusing on the bad, replace these thoughts by thinking of even a few things for which you are grateful. It could be as simple as a sunny day, a warm bed, or food to eat. It will also help you notice more of the little things around you, rooting for you to succeed in your recovery journey.