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Self-Worth’s Impact on Addiction and the Recovery Process

In the new age of healing and transformation, the topic of self-worth has become commonplace, and some would even argue it to be overdone. But the truth is self-worth is essential for a strong recovery. It is a powerful player in life.

Self-worth influences one’s life trajectory in many ways, and can be the difference between struggling and living a more effortless existence.

Recovery and Lifestyle

As you are all aware, the recovery process requires a complete lifestyle change. In addition to overcoming cravings and implementing new coping strategies, one usually has to address their relationship with work, their family, friends, and themselves. And it is the relationship with themselves that has the most significance. After all, you bring you wherever you go. And when a person feels good about him or herself, they tend to perform better in work, participate in healthier relationships, generate new friendships, and take active steps to enhance their overall emotional well-being. All of this makes recovery easier and more rewarding. And although it is important to be able to maintain recovery in times of challenge, the truth is, it’s simply easier when feeling good about themselves and their life.

In the 12-step model of recovery, there is a suggested principle that helps many when they are struggling. And that principle is to act as if.-Lesley WirthIn the 12-step model of recovery, there is a suggested principle that helps many when they are struggling. And that principle is to act as if. In the case of those who embody self-worth, their choices often reflect that they feel good about themselves. But what about those who have a hard time seeing their value? Are they supposed to do years of self-esteem work before they can start to improve their lives? No, of course not. They can apply the act as if principle while they are simultaneously doing the deeper work to heal their self-image. This way, change can begin to occur immediately.

To do this, in the simplest of ways, start by asking yourself questions. For example, “What choice in my business would I make today if I truly believed I have what it takes to succeed?” Or, “If I believed that I was worthy of great respect, what choices would I make today?” The exact question will be unique to each person’s situation and where he or she feels stuck. The point is to act as if, in service to seeing positive change take place. Recovery isn’t just recovery from alcohol, substance abuse, or any other addiction. It is also about recovering who you really are; a person deserving of the good things in life.

Taking action, seeing your success, and then generating more self-worth as a natural by-product is an outside-in approach to transformation. The outside-in approach can also be referred to as an extrinsic approach. It puts people in the driver’s seat and creates opportunities that align with positive self-worth through taking steps that an individual with a high degree of self-worth would take.

Transforming Self-Worth

Another method of transforming self-worth is the inside out approach, also known as an intrinsic approach. The intrinsic approach requires that an individual shift his or her self-perception first and foremost. Then, as a result of this new inner-paradigm, a person will naturally create and attract situations that reflect a heightened sense of self-esteem.

The intrinsic approach invites a people to look at their limiting beliefs that keep them trapped under a glass ceiling of unworthiness. Through purging their old beliefs and identifying with new, supportive ones, circumstances begin to mirror the worth and value inherent within.

That may sound a little ideological, but consider these questions:

  • Do you believe that someone who deeply loved him or herself would be in an abusive relationship?
  • Do you believe that someone who knew they had incredible value to offer, would choose not to put themselves out there and market their services?

Even if the conscious mind says, “Yes, of course I have value and worth,” all a person has to do is look at their circumstances to discover what the unconscious mind thinks. Or another way to put this is our outer reality always reflects our inner-reality.

Deeply Held Beliefs

So in the case of the recovery journey, where a person has the opportunity to radically transform his or her self-perception, looking at deeply held beliefs is very important to the process. The most important aspect of this work is to become open to the fact that just because you believe something, does not necessarily make it accurate.
This reminds me of a story that my dear friend told me about a woman who had a strong connection to the spiritual realm, and the response she relayed from this connection, to a gentlemen who was attending one of her workshops. It narrates just how much the belief was impacting a man’s life, and when he dropped the belief, everything changed:

A homeless man, reeking of alcohol, came into a question and answer session with a famous intuitive. He made himself comfortable in the front row and listened with great intention as she shared her wise and prophetic words. After he gained enough courage, he raised his hand and she called on him, smiling lovingly. He asked, “How does a person forgive himself, and others as well, while trying to recover from alcoholism?”

Her response to the man is as follows:

“Bless yourself, for you have chosen a path of great courage. Your entire life, even the portions wherein you feel you cannot forgive yourself, are the choice of the spirit- the Soul that you are- that has come to take a tremendous growth step.

How can you forgive? I might ask you, how can you blame? Who are you to place judgment on yourself? You feel you have hurt others. I say to you that there is a choice in all things, and though certainly the responsibility for your actions is commendable, the guilt is destructive. Responsibility and guilt are two different things. Guilt is negative, it is unrealistic. Responsibility is mature, and will take you out of the forest and into the light.
You are a most blessed, blessed being. Others may take a gentler way. You have chosen to see all the negativities- or most of them that you possess, in this lifetime. Isn’t it remarkable? And now that you have seen your darkness, have recognized it, and have owned it, you can bring it into the light. This is a time of celebration. Not of self-chastisement.”

Recognizing True Self-Worth

These wise words, void of any judgment or criticism, are the embodiment of true self-worth. They do not pair a person’s choices with his or her value, but instead remind us that at the core, we are inherently worthy and good. We are not our choices. We are so much more. This is a complete paradigm shift from the more common approach in assessing self-worth, which is truly outdated. The new paradigm asks us to open up to the possibility that we are inherently worthy, and if we believe otherwise, to do the work required to bring us back to the truth.

To change our lives, we are asked to change our beliefs about ourselves. The good news is all that is required to change our beliefs is to be willing to learn who we really are.

Image Courtesy of iStock

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