Imagine a rock formation at the edge of the ocean. The waves constantly splash against it, around the clock, gently eroding the surface of the rock. Sometimes, there are big waves with more force which may even break small pieces off of the rock. Even more powerful are the big storms, with the winds and the water relentlessly pounding against the rock formation.
Sometimes, our self-esteem is like that when we use substances. Subtly, as our usage increases and our behaviors begin to deteriorate, our self-esteem begins to erode away, one drink at a time. Sometimes, there are circumstances that happen that may damage our self-esteem a little more, like when we let people down or hurt people because of our substance use. When the big storms of life come, whether they are related to our substance use or not, our self-esteem takes an even bigger hit.
Eventually, our self-esteem is unrecognizable from when we began our substance use. All belief in ourselves has been washed away. Substance use can be relentless that way. However, unlike the rock formation, our self-esteem can be restored. We can learn to believe in ourselves again when we choose the path of recovery.
How Self-esteem Erodes
Perhaps our substance use started out innocently enough: socially responsible drinking, something to keep us awake for work, or pain medication prescribed for a medical condition. No one ever sets out to create an addiction. No one ever wants to have their belief in themselves eroded by behaviors related to substance use.
As our substance use evolved into addiction, shame, guilt, and remorse took over in our head, and our self-esteem eroded away slowly but surely. Maybe there were events where we did not show up, embarrassed ourselves, or we were unkind or even abusive to a loved one while we were under the influence. All of these things add to our pain and make us want to escape more. The hardest hit, though, would be our self-esteem.
When the Storms of Life Hit
Worse still would be the times when the tempests of life would rain down on us relentlessly. Whether the storms came from our behaviors, or perhaps just life itself, we were pounded by stressors and events that tested us. Often, in substance use, our reaction is to use our substances, which can lead to bigger problems.
Maybe we lost our job, our partner, or got in an accident. Storms like this are unforgiving in our minds, and our self-esteem is unlikely to be shown any mercy. We may even want to drown in our sorrow and self-pity.
Why We Need Self-esteem
Everyone needs self-esteem. Not only is it a measure of our own worth and value, but it impacts the decisions and choices that we make. We are more likely to take good care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally if we believe that we are worth it. We are also more likely to be productive and live to our fullest potential when we have self-esteem.
People with a healthy level of self-esteem are more likely to be persistent in achieving their goals and ambitions. Self-esteem also fosters resiliency to be able to deal better with the winds and storms of life. Those with more self-esteem also are capable of stronger, more fulfilling relationships, as their self-belief is mirrored in others and allows for better communication and functioning with others. Having a healthy amount of self-esteem improves our quality of life, our productivity, and overall health.
How Recovery Can Restore Our Self-esteem
The very decision to step onto the recovery path shows that we believe in ourselves. Beginning from that decision, our self-esteem begins to grow and change with every step we take in the process. By removing substance use from the equation, we also remove the behaviors we thought were shameful. By actively seeking recovery, we increase our belief in self as we remember who we are and what we really and truly want in life. Rather than being dashed by wave after wave of guilt and remorse, we are able to stand proud, facing the waves of life, but without being subject to their powers.
Our success in recovery teaches us that we have value, that our life has meaning, and that we can and should take good care of ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. In healing, we can once again see the potential we have, and we now have the strength and clarity to achieve that potential. Goals that once seemed unattainable become not only believable but also a driving force in our lives. We change from having felt worthless and without purpose to becoming fulfilled and driven to find success, often with the desire to help others with substance use, as well. Our relationships improve immensely, and we become more resilient against the storms of life. Recovery is work, but the work becomes worth it when we realize that we can restore our self-esteem and give meaning and purpose to our lives again.
Protect yourself against the constant erosion of substance abuse. Find your recovery at AToN Center by calling (888) 535-1516 today. We can help you restore your self-esteem and believe in yourself again. Don’t let yourself be swept away by regret and shame. Learn to stand up against the storms and be a beacon of strength again.