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Many people with addictions—and many people in general—have a part of themselves that wants to feel good and a part of themselves that does not like themselves. Trauma can make us feel we need and deserve to suffer because we are bad. Because of this ambivalence between the desire to feel good vs. to suffer, addictions provide the perfect solution. We can feel good now and destroy our lives at the same time, serving both sides of our conflict.
Authentic recovery from addiction is impossible when there is self-hatred.
In large part, the solution to addiction is self-love. If we truly cherished ourselves, would we do anything to harm ourselves, including addict? If we were to really open our eyes to the obvious truth that each one of us is an amazing creation of the Universe, then our attitude towards ourselves would be one of reverence and gratitude. Seeing the truth of our infinite value and preciousness, we would cherish ourselves the way we would cherish a young child.
Accordingly, the first step of recovery is to stop hating ourselves. Hatred is a very destructive mental habit. If we hate ourselves, how can we possibly heal or improve ourselves? Change begins with acceptance.
We do this by replacing hate with love. How do we do this? By consciously practicing the following healing habits all day, every day, for the rest of our lives.
- We consciously and intentionally remind ourselves of the truth of our sacredness. Since we are sacred, we decide to take charge of loving ourselves unconditionally.
- We practice radical self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. We accept and forgive our faults, flaws, deficiencies, failures, mistakes, as well as our diseases and disabilities, including our addictions. We see that we can be no other way and that we are beautiful, imperfect people, just like everyone else. We appreciate our gifts and achievements. With this practice, our life agenda moves from negative self-preoccupation to constructive engagement with the world. We stop working to be better and instead focus on being more authentically engaged with life.
- We dissolve self-hatred. When negative, judgmental, critical thoughts arise, as they likely will to some degree for the rest or our lives, we mindfully note them, lovingly thank them for arising in our consciousness, and replace them with an opposite, more realistic, positive thought of valuing, appreciation, acceptance, and gratitude. We show ourselves deep compassion for our suffering.
- We take good care of ourselves:
- We take accountability for our lives.
- We surround ourselves with loving people.
- We eat right, get plenty of sleep, rest, and regular exercise.
- We take time for ourselves.
- We simplify and balance our lives; we minimize stress.
- We work on recovery every day. We renounce doing anything that feels good that is harmful (e.g. addicting)
- We get the help we need to treat medical and mental illnesses and to heal from trauma.
- We have fun.
- We lovingly connect with others. In doing so, we assert ourselves and set boundaries as needed. We practice honesty, care, humility, and respect. We act with integrity. We forgive others as we have forgiven ourselves. We appreciate others’ gifts and good fortune rather than comparing ourselves enviously to them.
- We give both ourselves and others the love we want. We fill our own emptiness with our own love.
- We pursue our passions.
Our self-love allows us to literally love ourselves, which is the fundamental act of recovery. Our loving the truth of who we are now creates the conditions for us to renounce our addictions, heal and transform into our best selves.