Many of us grow up learning to hate ourselves, and very often it is our self-destructiveness that fuels our addictions. We feel insecure and lack self-confidence. We struggle with feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem. We carry a lot of shame and regret. Our self-image is based on our lack of self-love, and we often don’t see ourselves realistically but rather tainted with our negative views of ourselves. Why do we hate ourselves so much? For many of us, our traumatic experiences impact us so deeply that we internalize them and interpret them to mean we are inadequate, that we are to blame for them happening to us, that we are somehow at fault for our trauma. We believe we’re not good enough, that we don’t measure up. We start to view ourselves with criticism rather than encouragement, and we perceive our mistakes to be further evidence of our inadequacy. We may have adopted this tendency to think poorly of ourselves and to be self-disparaging from our families and caregivers. We may have grown up with people who were overly critical and judgmental, of us, of themselves, of the world in general. We may have absorbed it from our media and culture, in which advertising plays a huge role and is entirely based on making us feel bad about ourselves so that we’ll buy products to improve our feelings of self-worth and create a manufactured self-image. Wherever we acquired this self-hatred from, there are some things we can do to transform it and to start to love ourselves. Start to take notice of your self-talk. Be mindful of the instances in which you’re most self-critical and unkind. When you hear yourself speaking to yourself in anything less than a loving way, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you’ve heard. Ask yourself if the things you’re saying to yourself are the truth or a product of your fear and insecurity. Now try to shift them. Whatever you’re telling yourself, convert it to a positive statement, what is known as an affirmation. Where you feel like you hate yourself, start saying things like “I love myself. I believe in myself. I am proud of myself. I have faith in myself.” Where you feel insecure, start to say things like “I am confident. I am secure. I am capable. I am destined for wonderful things.” Try to transform your ongoing inner monologue. Don’t just say the words but really try to believe them. Feel them and embody them. With practice and time, you will shift your self-image and start to mentally and emotionally give yourself more love and support. Self-love can make all the difference in recovery and in living a happy, stable life.
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