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Self-Trust: Is Believing in Yourself Important for Recovery?

When it comes to addiction recovery, is it important to believe in yourself, to re-establish self-trust? It is crucial.When it comes to addiction recovery, is it important to believe in yourself, to re-establish self-trust? It is crucial. Addiction can strain many relationships in your life, and can cause feelings of disappointment and mistrust. This includes the relationship you have with yourself too!

Often times before entering recovery, a person spends so much time fighting with oneself to resist the urges that drive them to continue their substance abuse. Thoughts of failure or thinking one will never be able to quit is common among addicts. But believing in oneself is important to the success of a recovery. Why is this? There was a study done in 1998 that tested impulse/ self control. Participants were divided into two groups. One group was able to eat chocolate chip cookies while the other group had to resist temptation and eat healthy radishes. Both groups were then given a frustrating task to perform. The scientists found that the group who resisted the cookies gave up quicker on the task than the group who ate the cookies. And the control group, who was given neither food choices, persisted the longest. Other studies have shown similar results.

Unlike willpower, which usually describes the strength of someone’s character, impulse/self control has to do with central brain mechanisms. What researchers have found is that each person has a limit to how much self control they can exert before impairing their self control (this is called “ego depletion”), and it can happen even with seemingly unrelated tasks. This is especially evident when it comes to eating, drinking, spending, sexuality, intelligent thought, making choices and interpersonal behavior. What researchers have also found is that motivational or framing techniques can temporarily block the effects of ego depletion or self control impairment. One’s blood glucose levels is also an important component of the equation.

Like a muscle, self control can grow tired, but it can also be strengthened. And studies show that people who believe in their capacity for self control are less likely to experience ego depletion and sustain more self control. This is important to understand as you embark on a new, positive relationship with yourself. In your recovery find ways to motivate and inspire yourself. Learn how to re-frame the things that challenge you. In time, you will find that you have rebuilt your self-trust. Here are some tips to help you forge a new relationship with yourself in recovery:

  • Start from scratch. Clean slate. Let go of the excess baggage of your past and begin your new relationship with yourself the first day of your recovery.
  • Build strength with each success. See each success in your recovery as a building block or stepping stone and celebrate your milestones with yourself.
  • Take action. Recovery is not a passive experience. A successful recovery requires involvement and effort. You will prove to yourself that you can do it with each positive action you take.
  • Make lists, set goals and prioritize. This will enable you to actively participate in your recovery and allow you to track the progress of your recovery.
  • Be patient with yourself. Understand that even a successful recovery can include a relapse or slip-up. Learn from it, get back on track, and persevere.

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