There are many steps to follow and things to do during your recovery journey. Perhaps you attend group therapy a few days per week, practice breathwork and other grounding exercises every day, or maybe you spend time with a sponsor/mentor of some sort. Either way, when recovery becomes a priority, most of your time is dedicated to doing things that help you grow and stay sober. That being said, one of the most important things you can do for yourself in recovery is to practice self-compassion.
What is Self-Compassion?
We all have heard of this phrase, but what does it actually mean? Self-compassion is considered to be the practice of offering ourselves kindness and understanding when we experience failure, suffering, and/or feelings of inadequacy. This also means giving ourselves the time and space to fully experience these feelings rather than suppress them with shame and guilt. In giving ourselves this compassion, we are also trying to train ourselves to no longer express judgment toward ourselves when we have certain thoughts, experience certain emotions, or go through disappointing experiences.
Self-Compassion is a Necessity
While there are many important factors that go into recovery, practicing self-compassion is certainly one of the necessities for this process. Without this consistent practice, feelings of shame and guilt often times may take control of our decisions whether we consciously want them to or not. When operating from feelings of shame and guilt, negative self-beliefs are common experiences. Shame often tells us that we do not deserve to be happy. Guilt may tell us that we do not deserve to forgive ourselves and move on from our failures. With mindsets like these, you could be more apt to self-sabotage all the hard work you have done thus far.
By incorporating self-compassion into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling back into old habits involving drugs and/or alcohol. As well as maintaining sobriety, practicing self-compassion can also help you learn to love and appreciate yourself in the way you deserve.
We all make mistakes, fall short, and have doubts. In fact, this is a natural part of life. Odds are that when a loved one falls short, you react in an understanding, loving way that reminds them that they are good enough as they are. Allowing yourself to be this understanding and forgiving to yourself throughout your sobriety will better help you to both fully heal, and fully live again.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Sometimes starting a new habit can feel uncomfortable and even awkward at times. Implementing self-compassion may be no exception. However, having plenty of options to choose from ahead of time will be beneficial for learning what works for you. When realizing that one option may not work for you, it is helpful to have back-ups planned to try instead. Here are some ways to practice self-compassion:
1. Create Daily Lists:
By making daily lists each morning or evening of things you are proud of yourself for, you will realize how much you accomplish every day that is worth being proud of.
2. Set a “Self-Gratitude” Alarm:
Try setting an alarm on your phone titled “self-gratitude” that goes off at least three times a day on your phone or device. Every time it goes off, write down or say out loud one thing about yourself that you are grateful for. These should be things like your honesty, your willingness to face your fears or your passion for [fill in the blank].
3. Make Your Life into a Song:
Have you ever tried singing different words in place of your favorite song? Consider the familiar ‘Happy Birthday’ song. Rather than singing, “Happy Birth-day to-you,” you could sing, “I feel an-gry to-day, and it’s OK I feel this way” as a playful way to acknowledge your emotions and exercise understanding.
4. Create a Safe Space:
Wherever you live, try setting up a space filled with things/decorations that allow you to feel happy and safe. This space is only yours to access. Go to this space when you struggle with feelings of shame and guilt. In this space, notice the things in the room that fill you with comfort and joy. You are safe. In this space, you are safe to feel all of your emotions, and remind yourself that, no matter what, it is OK to fall short from time to time. These shortcomings do not mean you are a bad person, they mean that you are a human and are able to learn something from.
5. Letting Yourself Cry:
Many people feel that crying around others is wrong. Blocking this normal, human reaction may create suppressed feelings and send a message to yourself that says crying is wrong. By letting yourself feel sad and cry when you feel like crying, you are giving yourself compassion and understanding. You understand that crying and feeling these emotions are helpful rather than harmful.
Being human beings, we make many mistakes throughout life. While this is understandable, those living in sobriety may struggle significantly with this truth. That is why learning how to practice self-compassion is so important for those in recovery. Self-compassion is a way to offer oneself understanding and kindness so that a person can live more authentically and, soberly, and fully. Some ways to begin practicing self-compassion could include creating daily lists, setting a self-gratitude alarm, and more. Learning how to consistently practice self-compassion here at Rickard Elmore Treatment Strategies, self-compassion is one of the many things we teach at our facility in Newport Beach, California. We also offer treatment planning, interventions, psychedelic support and planning, and more. Whatever you need, we are here to help you and support you during this time. Call us today at (877) 387-7197 to learn more.