When an individual is recovering from addiction, experiencing withdrawal is…
First you are told that chemically dependent people are ego-centric and self-centered. You are instructed to breakdown your ego, admit to all your worst faults, and learn humility. Then you are told your worst problem is a lack of self-esteem, and in recovery you are advised to build up a sense of yourself and belief in yourself.
How can you reconcile these two propositions?
Accept the definition of “ego” as the image you built of yourself out of fear, self-defense, false pride, and dishonesty. Egotism is a determination to protect your self-image at all costs. Then, take the definition of selfhood as acceptance of the person you discover yourself to be when you are free of drugs and alcohol, and take a good long look at yourself in your recovery mirror.
True self-esteem involves an acceptance of that person, imperfections and all. When you can destroy the fake, self-centered ego and discover the core goodness that had been buried underneath, you will have resolved another paradox of recovery.
Breaking Through Distortions
Listen to a group session and you will hear someone say he used to describe himself as “the most generous guy in the world,” or a woman described herself as “the most unselfish mother who ever lived,” and then confess that the generosity was all self-serving: “Sure, I’d be generous to you if it would eventually do me some good”, and unselfishness was egocentric: “I thought everybody would love me if I always gave them what they wanted.”
After facing the truth about themselves, these people could then legitimately say, “I’m not much more or less selfish than the next person” or “Yes, I’ve been selfish, but that’s something I can work on.”
In the bad old days, your self-worth was something you felt you had to earn, minute by minute, through who you knew and what you achieved. But those days are receding into the past.
Increasingly, as your recovery progresses, your self-worth takes root and stands on its own. This is not a one-time act, but gradual process that develops as you cultivate awareness instead of denial, honesty instead of secrecy, and spiritual openness instead of arrogance. The way to build your self-worth or self-esteem is by doing esteem-able acts; this process is gradual, yet rewarding— like recovery itself.
It’s not just recovery you are discovering, it’s integrity.
If you or a loved one wants to learn more about our substance abuse programs, please reach out to us today. Our admissions team is available 24/7 at (877)-RECOVERY to answer your questions.