This Valentine’s Day, Love Yourself

By The Fix staff 02/14/19

Getting clean and staying sober is one of the hardest things that a person can do. And yet, here you are. Take a moment to celebrate that success just like you would if one of your loved ones had accomplished it.

Happy woman holding coffee cup, self-love in recovery on valentine's day

When you were using, there were times when you probably couldn’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror because of shame, embarrassment, or just knowing that you could do better for yourself. In recovery, however, it’s important to look in the mirror and see the progress that you have made toward living a healthy and fulfilled life. This Valentine’s Day, amid all the chocolates, flowers, and plush toys, take time to celebrate your love for yourself and all that has allowed you to accomplish.

“It is important for all individuals to love themselves, but especially those in recovery,” said Pa Auna Lee, the intake manager at Deer Hollow Recovery and Wellness Centers, a treatment center in Draper, Utah. “Having self-love as a centerpiece of recovery is a must.”

Here’s how to celebrate your self-love today, and strengthen your recovery while you’re doing it.

Think About How Far You’ve Come

Getting clean and staying sober is one of the hardest things that a person can do. And yet, here you are. Take a moment to celebrate that success just like you would if one of your loved ones had accomplished it.

“This important piece of recovery can prevent relapse and strengthen sobriety by creating a positive foundation to build upon,” Lee said.

While you’re reflecting, think about the positive changes that you’ve brought into your life through your sobriety, and how those changes have affected other people that you love.

Dream Big

Once you’ve spent time thinking about how far you’ve come, consider how far you would still like to go. When you express love and compassion toward yourself, you’re able to focus on your strengths and achieving what you desire.

“When we are not busy hating ourselves, there is much more time to focus on creating the lives that we have always wanted to have,” Lee said.

Think about the areas that you would like to grow: perhaps you want to mentor someone in early recovery or pursue a new position at work. Whatever your goal is, remember to speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement as you pursue it.

Make Space by Forgiving Yourself

Thinking back on the times you were using, there are no doubt moments that make you cringe or flush with embarrassment even years later. Perhaps there are relationships that still haven’t fully recovered from your addiction. Although those effects might always be there, it’s important that you forgive yourself for the pain you’ve caused yourself and others in the past.

“A large part of recovery is learning how to forgive others’ actions and how they affected you, as well as forgiving yourself for the pain and suffering that you brought upon yourself and your loved ones during your active addiction,” Lee said. “Experiencing forgiveness and releasing yourself from carrying the burden of shame and guilt will leave available space to love the person that you are and are striving to become.”

A ritual like writing and burning a letter can help you process your negative emotions and let go of them in order to move forward. Whatever you choose, remember: the past does not define you.

Connect to Your Higher Power

Connecting with your higher power can help you put things in perspective, focusing on the big picture rather than past behaviors that now make you uncomfortable. Taking time to foster this connection — through spending time in nature, doing yoga, attending church, or anything else that works for you — is a key part of growing your love for yourself.

“Remaining true to yourself and staying connected to a higher power or a higher frequency of living will insure long term recovery filled with peace and happiness,” Lee said.

Be Patient with Yourself

You wouldn’t expect to start a loving relationship with someone else instantly, and learning to love yourself is no different. Building self-love takes time and effort, and can be the most difficult parts of the recovery journey, Lee said.

“However, with continuous effort and utilizing the tools that have been taught, individuals will recognize more every day that they are beginning to love themselves,” Lee said. “When this self-actualization occurs, it will strengthen the individual and add depth to their recovery.”

Deer Hollow Recovery and Wellness Centers is a treatment center in Draper, Utah, that guides clients in moving towards physical, spiritual, psychological and social recovery.

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