We have learned that complete willingness to make amends to ourselves and to forgive ourselves or past mistakes has been essential to our recovery. ~ Anon
I know this goes against the grain for most people who perceive self-love to be selfish and self-centered, but believe me when I say, that unless we love ourselves unconditionally and accept ourselves with no ifs or buts, we will struggle with ego based problems such as judgmentalism, fear, social insecurity, etc. How do we go about this thing called “living amends.” There are certain things we say to ourselves in our heads and out loud, that if said to another person, would be grounds for a law suit for defamation of character or outright abuse.
So, how does one overcome this self-abuse? The first thing is to catch ourselves in the act. In other words, jot down each time a negative thing falls out of your mouth or pops into your head, as an example: “I’m stupid”, or “there I go screwing up again.” Once you have a few on paper, identify a positive affirmation to counter what was said or thought. And put the word “absolutely” in front of it. For instance, “I am absolutely smart enough.” I find it helpful to write these each day, until the falsehood is removed. Another tactic that works, is to catch yourself in the act, and then correct it on the spot. I did this once in the middle of a sentence. The person I was speaking to chuckled at my affirmation and said, “I agree!” Be kind and gentle especially to yourself. As one friend says, “I have to be on my own team.”
God, please help me see the truth about myself
no matter how beautiful! ~ anon, 2011
The secret to success in AA is in believing you are worth it, acting as if, and staying sober; so that you can appreciate this fact fully. I have said before, and I will gladly say it again: I do not respond well to criticism. I am not motivated by negative reinforcement. And, all the self knowledge in the world will not get and keep me sober. I must practice day after day, and year after year this thing called absolute love and compassion for myself and others. How can I be compassionate toward others when I beat myself up and find only fault in the mirror? I can’t.
Last night, I witnessed a conversion between a healthy member in AA and someone who does not embrace the concept of love and compassion toward self and others, yet is dry. What I heard a lot were excuses, blame and self sabotage when healthier options for living were introduced. My questions for you are: is it enough to just be dry and drag yourself to meetings? Or is being healthy, happy, free, and truly sober a better objective? I choose the latter. So long as I treat myself like garbage, I will fee like garbage, and eventually I will say, “what the heck; I might as well be drunk.” Eat well, live well, and be well one day at a time.
All too often, we seem as a culture to be at war with life’s transitions, viewing death as a failure to live, and aging as a failure to remain young. We do something grievous to ourselves when we buy into this cultural ideology.
~ John Robbins, Healthy at 100
One of the benefits of the 12 Step program for me is that I was able to unlearn much of what I was taught about life, religion, health, and culture. It is funny how what I thought was fact was actually learned behavior. What a joy to be able to reframe things to meet my own unique belief system and lifestyle. For too many years, I felt apart from and not equal to, and I was either too much of something or not enough of another. I always felt as if I came up short of others’ expectations of myself. What a relief to know that in the rooms of AA, I am not alone, and I never have to feel alone again. Such a deal.
This goes back to what I wrote about a few days ago: low self-esteem is the opposite end of of the spectrum from egomania. We addicts tend to think less of ourselves even when we are doing okay in life. Humility is thinking of oneself less; not thinking less of oneself. So, it is a matter of turning our thinking around. Consider this: write down things you always say to yourself when you get upset, for instance: “I am such a dummy.” or “I am such a screw up.” Now, spend some time with your HP, and ask he or she or it to tell you the truth (clue: this is the first thing that pops into your head or what a loving parent would say). Now, I challenge you to make these into affirmations, such as “I am absolutely smart enough.” Put these on the fridge. Each time you catch yourself saying junk to yourself, say these instead. You are a precious child of the universe. Embrace this.