Jean-Machelle Benn-Dubois, PhD. LPC NCC ACS
Director of Admissions & Continuum of Care
Crossroads Centre, Antigua
Eric Clapton made a profound statement in an interview with Esquire magazine in 2008 (Fussman, 2014). He noted that “Addiction doesn’t negotiate”. It is a statement worth reflecting on because it sums up the totality of the addict’s life. The addiction is everything, nothing else matters. Not even the ability to love yourself.
Self-love takes courage
In treatment, as the individual begins their recovery journey, and the addiction cloud starts to shift; emotions and the yearning for positive attachments start to take root. It is at this point in early recovery that the attainment of self-love is most critical. Discovering, and then nurturing self-love is vital to the maintenance of sobriety. The challenge, however, is that choosing to love yourself in recovery is difficult. The individual may struggle with feelings of guilt and question if they are deserving of love. It takes courage to love yourself, especially when faced with memories of the chaos your addiction had created. I had a candid conversation with a recovering addict who shared his hurdle in completing Step-4. He emotionally declared that it was too difficult to make that ‘searching and fearless moral inventory’; because he could not face the pain he caused himself and others. This step is a very powerful one that strips the addict bare and prepares him/her for self-acceptance, where self-love resides.
Tips to create self-love
Establishing self-love starts at the very core with shifting perspectives. To see the painful past as shaping the better person you will become, and not the definition of whom you are. This part of the healing process begins in the early stages of recovery. It is important to accept that not everyone will be able to get over the mistakes you’ve made and that you must also forgive yourself. Creating self-love requires daily mindful attention:
- Reminisce on the accomplishments made, not the failures.
- Practice daily gratitude and speak it out loud, as reminders of the gains made in recovery.
- Spending quality time on self-care; nutritious eating, exercise, and establishing a healthy routine.
- Invest time in the appropriate fun activities, which demonstrates that you are worth it.
- Seek a positive supportive network, who will love you until you learn to love yourself.
As you continually learn to love yourself, you become even more protective of your recovery. Sobriety and self-love go hand in hand. The partnership motivates the addict to stay steadfast on their journey of self-repair. Nurturing your sobriety is proof that you are worth it. There should be no negotiation with your recovery.
Fussman. C. (2014). What I’ve Learned: Eric Clapton. Retrieved from: