Why Loving Yourself Sober Is Hard

01/10/18: Relapse Prevention

Life can be a sobering experience, even when a person doesn’t have the challenge of drug or alcohol addiction. Our cultural ideologies might be different. Our socio-economics will vary. What is a unifying component to humanness is how we choose to view ourselves. The effective word here is choose.

If how we feel about ourselves is a choice, then why do many people choose to see themselves in a negative light? Part of the reason is that we are pre-conditioned to accept a self-image based on prior relationships, how someone else perceived you. Another way we generate self-image is through visual and verbal cues that indicate how we’re supposed to look or act. These patterns set up a silent scale of “shoulds” or how we are supposed to be. We choose to adopt such criteria and, when we don’t measure up, we fail. It is in this self-acclaimed failure that we self-judge, self-hate and self-destruct. No one practices this behavior better than an addict.

Feeling Is Knowing, Knowing Is Owning

Trying to overcome life’s ups and downs to love yourself is hard enough – for someone in the midst of addiction recovery it can feel like a constant uphill battle. But why?

The use of methamphetamines, cocaine, opioids, marijuana or alcohol may provide a difference in how a person will feel while on the substance but what they all do is alter how someone would naturally feel without it. I can’t tell you what that feeling is as it’s as individual as each person and that feeling, the sober feeling, changes moment to moment. What I can share is that there’s an emotional reason why you choose to alter how you feel and that’s the part that is the toughest to deal with when living clean or sober. Because it can hurt.

The process of recovery is learning what it’s like to feel again. Every day brings a new life lesson that needs to be identified, worked through and accepted. Moreover, how you feel about an issue one day can differ when you have to revisit it another day, because your healing is ongoing. Just as the mind, body and spirit continues to shift more towards wellness, the way you feel about people, places and circumstances will shift as well.

Once you can get accustomed to the fluidity in being, you get more connected to your inner truth: What’s important, what drives you and what you want to strive for. This helps you make life choices that, in turn, you need to own. It’s challenging as the decisions, past and present, can fuel self-doubt and self-hate. Here’s what you can do to rise above it, get comfortable in your own skin again and believe that you are deserving of everything good this life has to offer.

Accept Yourself and Positivity Will Come

positivity supports sobriety

Start with self-acceptance. It isn’t about being the person you think others want to be with or who you think they want you to be. It’s about accepting every aspect of yourself, the good and the parts that need work. Your imperfections are worthy of your love because they not only are part of your whole, they bring lessons and value that keep you motivated to do better and live better. In fact, people are more attracted to those who have confidence and wear it on their sleeves, as personal strength shines unequivocally. When you shine, others want to shine with you.

Addiction – Success and Failure Revisited

Addiction. Some say it’s a blessing, others say it’s a curse. I suppose it depends on which side of addiction you live on. Like most disease, it doesn’t go away so it’s a matter of learning to live with it and thrive despite it. Even for those who have decades-long sobriety under their belts, addiction is there as a reminder of what was, and what could be if loving oneself is not a primary lifepath. Addiction recovery and sobriety partner to serve as an ever-present guide to wellness. The practice of self-love is merely the tool to achieve it, while allowing acceptance of personal failures and the emotional vehicle to move past them.

Self-Love Made Easy

It isn’t necessary to shout at the top of your lungs, “I love myself!” though it wouldn’t hurt. There are ways to express self-love that boost self-esteem and show addiction that it isn’t the boss of your destiny anymore, you are. Take these 12-Steps to self-love wherever you go because you never know who you’ll meet that could use the emotional pick-me-up.

12-Steps to Loving Yourself through Sobriety

  1. Cut Yourself Some Slack
  2. Give “Me” Time
  3. Respect Your Own Boundaries
  4. Honor the Good
  5. Embrace Shortcomings
  6. Forgive Often
  7. Appreciate Change
  8. Speak Gratitude
  9. Choose Healthy
  10. Track Progress
  11. Limit Stress
  12. Feel More

It’s important to carve out time for yourself each day. A 10-minute meditation, a half-hour of cardio, an hour soaking in a bubble bath or a brief reality check with your best friend. Do something that makes you feel good, just for you. And on those days filled with gray, remember how far you’ve come, be excited about where you’re headed and know deep in your heart that you’re doing the best you can, and that is always good enough.

Love Yourself or Someone Else Enough to Get Help

602-737-1619

Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact 602-737-1619 or email info@arizonaaddiction.com to get the help you need. Our acclaimed recovery environment merges upscale, luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare.

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