One thing I was told when I first got sober was to get rid of self-centred thinking. Sure – I wanted to help others – and I was! I was doing plenty of service. However, my thoughts weren’t matching up with my actions.
My mind would constantly race with questions that my brain fought to reconcile. Is he looking at me? Is she talking about me? Am I being too loud? Does my hair look okay? I was absolutely incapable of not thinking about myself.
For those of us in recovery, most things we struggle with come down to fear. The self-centred thinking that I was engaging in came down to my fear of judgement. I was sober and I was doing all the right things, but I was obsessed with making sure people thought highly of me. The idea that not everybody needed to like me was difficult to wrap my head around. In order to fully relieve myself of selfishness, I had to first learn to love myself.
To slow these racing thoughts, I began to practice self-care via mindful meditation. Mindful meditation is a practice of focusing on one’s breathing to relax and slow the mind while practising the acceptance of any passing thoughts. To be able to slow down, take a deep breath, and foster my thoughts for what they are – merely thoughts – means I can be at peace with the working brain I have been given. Meditation allows me to connect with the energy within my body and reach a state of consciousness where I am present in each moment. To love myself, I must nurture my soul.
Addiction is said to be a three-fold disease. It affects the mind, body, and spirit. While meditation allows me to care for my soul, I needed to care for my body as well. To love something is to treat it well, and after years of drug abuse, my body hadn’t been treated with very much love. I started to begin my day with a short walk around the neighbourhood and end it with a 15-minute yoga session. My workouts began to get more intense, and now I am back in the shape I was in when I played varsity basketball as a teenager. I feel healthier and happier.
Through taking care of my body and soul, I feel more confident and at peace about where I am at in my sobriety. Being confident and taking care of my health is my way of loving myself for who I am and for the body I have been given.
Self-care isn’t selfish. When you are on a plane, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before you can help somebody else. Self-care means making sure I love myself so that I am able to help others recover from addiction.
Kate is an addict in long term recovery. She is a writer for https://paxmemphis.com/ and advocates spreading awareness around the disease of addiction.
VIEW THE PROGRAM FOR THE 2019 AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND ADDICTION CONFERENCE. CLICK HERE.
REGISTER FOR THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE. CLICK HERE.