The person you think you see in the mirror, can get in the way of the person you truly are.
Holistic treatment revolves around treating the whole person, including the way they view themselves and their sense of self-worth. Keep reading to learn the connection between low self-esteem and addiction…
What is self-esteem?
“Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.” -Lisa M. Hayes
Self-esteem is essentially the value people place on themselves and how they think the world perceives them. In a nutshell, it’s the feelings they have internally about who they are as a person. This orientation can be either positive or negative.
Self-esteem affects every aspect of a person’s life: the way they interact with others, how trusting they are, how they perform at work, and even what sort of challenges they take on. Too much self-esteem can result in egotism or narcissism, while too little can lead to depression.
What makes a healthy self-esteem?
People start building their sense of self in childhood, and these perceptions are steadily shaped from different life experiences. Parents, teachers, siblings, friends, and everyday events play a role in developing one’s self-esteem.
People with low self-esteem may require a great deal of positive interactions to help them feel good about themselves. As a result, their sense of self becomes heavily dependent on individual circumstances or how others perceive them. A parent saying, “You’re so stupid!” after a poor grade on a math test, or being picked last in gym class are experiences that may influence a person having negative or low self-esteem.
On the other hand, having an accurate perception of one’s strengths and weakness—despite what happens or what others say—helps a person stay grounded and allows them to have a healthy self-esteem.
People with positive self-esteem understand that they have natural gifts and value to offer the world and the people around them. They feel important, they have confidence in their abilities, and they trust their decision-making skills.
The Role of Self-Esteem in Addiction
Addiction arises from a variety of factors, of course, but most researchers agree on the causal role of low self-esteem. This is how it works:
In comparison to people with a healthy sense of self, those with low self-esteem look down on themselves. They doubt their abilities and decisions. They don’t trust others, they expect to be ridiculed, and they don’t feel liked or appreciated by those around them.
After dealing with this critical, judgmental, and negative perception of themselves over time without intervention, these individuals are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol. These substances help them to numb negative emotions, and may even offer courage and confidence in situations where they are typically reserved.
This connection helps guide addiction treatment efforts. With this information, experts understand that a crucial aspect of holistic therapy must revolve around rebuilding the sense of self so that it is positively oriented. This is the best way to secure lasting sobriety.
How to Improve Self-Esteem
Here are 3 easy ways to boost self-esteem:
- Take on more challenges. Being able to see themselves tackle new projects and develop new skills improves the sense of self.
- Play to strengths. Place an emphasis on the areas of life where a person truly thrives. Invest more time and energy into these pursuits.
- Affirm abilities. People should give themselves permission to applaud their performance in areas where they excel. Saying, “I’m really smart” or “I have good strategy skills” after working through a problem helps improve their outlook.
Those struggling with low self-esteem may benefit from participating in holistic therapy that helps to identify and battle the factors that negatively affected the self-esteem. Then, people can enjoy healthier, realistic, and more positive views of themselves, and ultimately avoid a relapse of drug and alcohol abuse.