Self-Compassion in Recovery
When someone is in recovery for an addiction, there is an array of emotions that they go through. Each emotion can either contribute positively or negatively to their recovery. One thing that has proven to help during recovery is self-compassion. Self-compassion in recovery is an important part of getting and remaining sober.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion involves responding to yourself in the same supportive way as you would to a friend who is having a difficult time or who sees something about themselves that they don’t like. Having compassion for yourself includes turning the mirror on yourself and giving yourself that same support.
Self-compassion means being encouraging instead of being self-critical. When you have self-compassion, you realize that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. It means that you don’t come down hard on yourself for becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
How Does Self-Compassion Help Someone in Recovery?
According to Dr. Julie Smith (1), self-compassion is a vital skill for maintaining good mental health. To battle an addiction, you must maintain good mental health. Evidence shows that self-compassionate people are less depressed, and have less anxiety and stress.
Unfortunately, many individuals blame themselves for their addiction. Their thoughts and actions are not positive and don’t contribute to their well-being. Dr. Smith says people who demonstrate more self-compassion in their daily lives tend to be happier and more confident (2). They are also healthier. This is another reason why self-compassion is so important during recovery.
In recovery, someone who has self-compassion will realize that things are not always going to go your way and that’s okay (3). They come to realize and accept their humanness. Part of this is realizing that everyone makes mistakes, including themselves.
A study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology (4) shows that self-compassion helps to decrease the body’s cortisol levels. These cortisol levels are known as the body’s “stress hormone”. This promotes the production and release of oxytocin, a chemical that’s known to decrease drug cravings.
Science also backs up the belief that self-compassion is something that can be learned. Another study in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction (5), states that “compassionate mind states may be learned, and may alleviate shame, as well as other distressing outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, self-attacks, feelings of inferiority, and submissive behavior.”
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What Are Some Ways to Have Self-Compassion?
Following the scientific belief that self-compassion is something that can be learned, there are several ways all people can gain self-compassion. One of the most important things is to realize that it takes time to learn self-compassion.
Acknowledge mistakes, but then let them go.
Part of having self-compassion is realizing that you’re only human. That means you make mistakes. Once you acknowledge that you made a mistake, forget about it and move on. Think of ways you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person.
Don’t be obsessed with “fixing” yourself; look for ways to grow instead.
Many people who become addicted to drugs and alcohol think that they need to be “fixed” because there’s something wrong with them. This is not true. Instead, look at ways for self-growth. This will help with sobriety more than trying to “fix” yourself.
Give yourself a break.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, self-compassion is all about treating yourself with the same empathy you would a good friend. If you can remember this, you will be well on your way to having more self-compassion for yourself.
Gain Self-Compassion in Recovery at Springboard Recovery
At Springboard Recovery, we believe in giving people the tools needed to gain self-compassion. As part of the recovery process, we offer outpatient therapy for those with a strong support system at home. There are also sober living programs available.
Through therapy sessions, we teach our patients the strategies they need to reduce any temptation to use alcohol or drugs. Patients learn to combat their demons as well as how to develop new interests that can make them feel good about themselves again. All of these things combined can help to develop self-compassion.
If you want more information on how Springboard Recovery can help you battle your addiction and develop self-compassion, call us today or send us a message online. Let us help you live the sober life you deserve.