By Cheryl Steinberg
Recovery is about healing from your past and learning to take care of yourself. Many of us didn’t know how – or still don’t know how – to have a healthy relationship with ourselves and therefore with others. Here are 19 things you should start doing for YOU.
#1. Surrounding yourself with the right people
The right people are the ones you enjoy being around, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who love you unconditionally and who inspire you to love others unconditionally.
#2. Facing your problems
Your problems don’t define you; how you react to them does. Life shows up and, unless you take action, nothing will change. It’s all about taking baby steps – when in doubt, just focus on doing the next right thing
#3. Being honest with yourself about everything
Be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can count on. This is one way of being accountable for your recovery and for yourself, in general.
#4. Making your happiness a priority
Your needs matter, too. If you don’t value yourself and put your needs first, you’re sabotaging yourself. Just remember, it is possible to take care of your own needs while at the same time caring for others. It’s also important to remember that, once your needs are met, you will be better at helping those who need you most.
#5. Creating your own happiness
If you are waiting for someone else to come along and make you happy, you will be waiting a lifetime. You must realize that your happiness depends on you and comes from you. Once you hone your skills at creating your own joy, that’s when you will be able to create the happy, healthy relationship you have envisioned for yourself.
#6. Being yourself
Oscar Wilde said it best: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Trying to be anyone else is a waste. Be yourself by embracing the person you are: the ideas, strengths, experiences, knowledge, and beauty that you, specifically possess.
#7. Living in the present
Stop focusing on the past and the future and start living in the present moment. John Lennon put it like this, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Don’t miss out on today because you’re too busy worrying about the future or else regretting the past. This leads to the next item…
#8. Learning lessons from your mistakes
Mistakes, such as relapse, are okay – as long as you look to these experiences as lessons that you can learn from. They’re the stepping stones of progress. Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again. Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving.
#9. Forgiving yourself and others
Pain from certain experiences is normal; sometimes we relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go. Forgiveness is the key. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
#10. Being nicer to yourself
If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
#11. Being grateful for the things you already have
The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy once we get certain things: the relationship, the house, the car, the dream job. But it takes time to get there and, the truth is, you’ll never actually get “there” because you’ll always just want more.
We are convinced that with every new thing that’s invented, we need it – in order to make us happy. So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.
#12. Competing against who you were yesterday
You can be inspired by others but know that competing against them is a waste of time. You are in competition with one person – yourself. Strive to be better than the person you were yesterday and aim to break your own personal records.
#13. Celebrating other people’s victories
Start noticing what you like about others and tell them. Be happy for those who are making progress, rather than resentful. Remember: what goes around comes around, and soon the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.
#14. Helping others
Care about people other than yourself. Reach out your hand and be in service to others. Love and kindness begets love and kindness.
#15. Listening to your inner voice
It’s good to get feedback and input from others but, limit who you talk to first, because too much input can cause confusion and second, you should always consider your source. That said, talk to and confide in only the people you know you can trust. But then follow your own intuition. Be true to yourself and do what you know in your heart is right.
#16. Working toward your goals every single day
Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. To achieve anything takes action. You can’t just wish, want, and hope for something. You have to take action in order to make it happen.
#17. Being open about how you feel
If there’s something on your mind or you’re hurting, take the time to allow yourself space and room to think. But then talk openly about it. If it involves something to do with another person, talk to them about it. Being passive aggressive is about the ugliest – and least effective – ways to accomplish anything. And it breeds resentment.
#18. Taking full accountability for your own life
Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. You must take accountability for your situation and overcome life’s obstacles. Otherwise, you are choosing a mere existence in which you are a victim to other people and circumstances.
#19. Focusing on the things you can control
Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, anger, and resentment. Instead, invest your energy wisely – into the things you can control, like yourself – your thoughts, feelings, and reactions, and then act on them.
Are you always putting yourself last, making sure everyone else is OK? This is known as codependency and it’s quite common among people with substance abuse disorders such as addiction and alcoholism. It also affects their family members and other loved ones. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock.