You may not think self-acceptance is a critical part of recovery but it is!

Learning how to find and build self-acceptance is mandatory for a successful recovery. So, if you think learning how to find self-acceptance is out of reach for you or unimportant, I’m here to tell you that it’s not out of reach and it’s crucial for mental health and happiness. In addiction, we usually don’t like ourselves, and for many good reasons. When we decide to go into recovery, there must be a shift in perspective towards ourselves for a number of reasons.

One, people who don’t accept themselves will run into problems eventually. Whether they manifest as physical, emotional, addiction, depression, a secret life, whatever, they will haunt and can destroy. Two, it’s been written in psychology that having positive regard for yourself is essential for personal development, mental health, and goal-reaching. Beyond that, how many people have you known over the years who battled their demons and you could see how demoralized they become over the years only to drift lower and lower? Then, on the other side, there are those who do the recovery work and you’re shocked to see how they rise. Three, self-acceptance is the key to healthy self-esteem and healthy interpersonal relationships.

Being that self-acceptance is so radically important, how do you find it if you’ve suffered esteem-bruising events such as trauma, addiction, mental illness, or abuse? And, how do you feel good about yourself when you have troubled family members or people around you who don’t treat you well? Often as people in recovery with a past, we’re not starting at the same place as other others. People who had healthy, well-adjusted supportive families raising them or a clean past devoid of crime, bad judgment, immorality, and God knows what else.

Here are 5 ways for how to find self acceptance

Process any trauma or bad behavior that still haunts you.

Sometimes it’s easier to believe if you don’t think about something, it will go away. You may stop thinking about it with time, but it will live like cancer inside you and the misery and destruction will manifest themselves in other ways eventually. There are amazing trauma treatments out there like EMDR, Havening, and a host of other therapies to look into with a professional. 12-step programs have a process with the steps that can be quite cathartic if you like 12-step and trust someone to take you through the steps.

Learn to love yourself. 

Like Mama Ru says, “How are you ever going to love someone else if you don’t love yourself first?” Date yourself, meaning take yourself on all the amazing dates you hope you get to go on. Find self-care routines you like and maintain them for at least 3-6 months. Buy yourself flowers once a week, take the time to lose weight or put down the bottle. Learn how to stop harming yourself and start loving yourself. Pets can be wonderful when it comes to learning to love again. A sponsor once told me, “Dogs open your heart chakra.”

Use Positive Psychology to Invite/Find Self Acceptance.

When I got serious about changing my thinking, my therapist had me read, “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Anchor. There are basic activities and tools to learn that will help transform your brain from being negatively focused to positively focused. How do I know? I did it. Whether you use gratitude lists, journaling, affirmations, or any other technique that’s focused on positive psychology, you will see results if you continue the practice for 3-6 months.

Get clarity on what you want.

Another trick I was taught was to sit and write out all my hopes, dreams, and wishes. It was a painful activity for me the first time I tried. It made me realize I’d been so beaten down by the concept of past failures, I was afraid to even put down in black and white what I wanted. Once I knew what I wanted, I had to acknowledge that I had some of it already. For the rest, I made action plans for how to achieve. Once I began to feel good about my life and what I was working towards, it took the highlight off the past. You can also, learn more from LifeHacker Guy and derive tips and recommendations on he managed to bounce back from failures due to bad habits and poor past decisions, and how he is now enjoying the reaps of his actions and achievements.

Live according to the four agreements.

Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, never make assumptions, and always do your best. These are principles to live by that work. They take practice to get used to. My experience is, none of this is easy at first, but with time it all became second nature. Not to say, I don’t get offended when someone says something that hurts my feelings or I don’t make assumptions, but I’ve learned to pause and think it through. Run it by someone who has good advice to confirm what’s going on in my head is real.

Finding self-acceptance takes time and effort. But, for me, it was one of the main ingredients to figuring out what I want and how to be happy. It’s impossible to live a fulfilled life when you’re unsure of what you want and how you feel about yourself. Basically, the work is worth it.

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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