Self-respect is having confidence in yourself and a sense of self-worth. It’s also feeling that you’re behaving with honor and dignity. Your self-respect may have been shattered by your substance use, but you can rebuild your self-respect during recovery.
Self-respect doesn’t rely on comparing yourself with others, because there will always be someone “better” and there will always be someone “worse.” If you respect yourself, you like yourself because of who you are, not what you can or cannot do.1
Feelings of guilt, self-doubt and regret could be part of what motivated you to seek treatment, but in recovery these feelings can only harm you.2 Now you must work to like yourself again by restoring a sense of personal worth and empowerment. Here are four steps to help you rebuild your self-respect.3
1. Start with a clean slate
You may have said or done things you’re not proud of before you entered recovery. Much of what you said or did can likely be connected to being impaired by drugs or alcohol. Now that you’re in recovery, wipe your own slate clean, so the recovery you’re building won’t be sabotaged by regret or a lack of self-respect due to past mistakes.
2. Take care of yourself
Develop a daily self-care routine. Nutrition, exercise, rest and personal grooming should be on the list every day. Shop for food and prepare your meals. Exercise on a regular schedule. Shower or bathe, brush your hair and teeth and put on clean clothing each day.
3. Learn to relax and have fun
Early recovery can be difficult, and it’s usually a time of emotional turmoil. It’s also a time to discover new interests to take the place of the time you spent using drugs or alcohol. Take a break and try something new and fun. You could join a sports league, take a class, go on group hikes or help out at local charities. The possibilities are endless. Plan to fill your free time with interesting and healthy activities, so boredom doesn’t creep in and lead you to fall into old habits.
4. Practice mindfulness
Avoiding relapse is a focal point of long-term recovery. Practice mindfulness to keep up your awareness of emotions and situations that act as relapse triggers. Use meditation to help you relax and relieve anxieties. Make gratitude a part of your daily routine, which helps you keep a healthy perspective and reminds you to be thankful for your recovery.
Bonus Benefit When You Rebuild Your Self-Respect During Recovery
Before others will respect you, you have to respect yourself. As you keep up the good work by taking care of yourself, challenging yourself with healthy activities, relaxing and having fun and practicing mindfulness, you’re building a lifestyle that fosters self-respect. The bonus is that you’ll also gain the respect of others. When others see your strength in recovery, they’ll respect you for it.
Taking on the Challenge of Self-Respect During Recovery
Though recovery is challenging, it’s an exciting journey of rediscovering who you are and who you want to be. You’re also learning what you’re willing to do to get there. Learning how to respect yourself again is part of your unfolding recovery process that makes a brand new you.