Self-Esteem in Recovery

Self-Esteem in Recovery

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by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director

One of the biggest struggles while in early recovery is practicing self-love. Due to the unpleasant behaviors that one has participated in while in the throes of addiction, it is often difficult for newly sober people to believe that they are worthy of acceptance, love, and belonging. The problem therein lies that if someone does not work towards building a positive sense of self, s/he is more likely to relapse. So, we at ARS have found that it is just as essential to work on the newly sober person’s self-esteem, as it is to work on his/her sobriety. Below are 5 ways to improve self-esteem today, if you are struggling with negative beliefs about yourself.

Practice Gratitude

Every morning when you wake, take a few minutes to write 5 things you are grateful for. This will help you to recognize the good in your life, rather than focusing on the laundry list of ‘to do’s’ that you have at the start of your day. This is guaranteed to get you off on a positive foot, first thing in the morning.

Tell Yourself Positive Affirmations

1.) Grab a pack of colored markers and a stack of post-it notes.

2.) Write down simple, positive notes to yourself, such as, “I am beautiful,” “I am strong,” “I am enough,” “I am kind,” or “I am getting better every day.”

3.) Stick the notes up in places you frequent, around your home.

Be sure to put the most powerful affirmations on the mirror in your bathroom. Look yourself in the eye and say the affirmation to yourself at least once a day. You are guaranteed to feel a twinge of awkwardness, followed by a feeling of empowerment. After all, if growth weren’t uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be called ‘growing pains’. 😉

Do Esteem-able Acts

Take that grocery cart back up to the store, help the stranger with directions, stop to pick up a piece of trash on your morning walk. By completing simple acts of integrity throughout the day, you will build a positive self-image and start to change the negative internal script you tell yourself.


Have you ever noticed how caught up we get in the day-to-day grind? We often forget to look up from what we are doing and notice the other people that surround us! Try making eye contact and smiling at the people you come into contact with throughout the day. You are guaranteed to feel more connected, accepted and positive just through showing off your pearly whites.

Take a Daily inventory

Finally, remember to close your day with reflection. Building self-esteem is not all about being perfect and happy. It is about making mistakes, reflecting on them and learning a new way of behaving. By gaining insight into your actions and making

conscious change, you will be able to look back at your daily choices and say, “Wow, that was difficult, and I got through it. Go me!” Acknowledging your weaknesses and taking pride in your feats is a surefire path to building self-esteem!

If you or a loved one is struggling with negative thought patterns due to addiction, please take the time to reach out and ask for help. We at ARS are here to guide you through the process of gaining a sense of self-acceptance again. We are here to show you love, until you can love yourself!





by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director