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Addiction Treatment and the Power of Self-Compassion

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Resources » Addiction & Recovery Articles » Addiction Treatment and the Power of Self-Compassion

Searidge Foundation is a not-for-profit drug and alcohol rehab located in Nova Scotia. In addition to providing personalized treatment, we try to create articles and resources that are useful to those suffering directly and indirectly from addiction and substance abuse.

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“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the golden rule. Of course, we are taught to always be kind to others. Why then, are we not taught to be as kind to ourselves? Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with the kindness, compassion and love, which we are taught to treat others with. The act of forgiving ourselves for our mistakes, taking care of ourselves when we need it and showing compassion for our own hardships is crucial in leading a fulfilling life. Indeed, according to Marina Krakovsky, self-compassion helps to foster our resilience and our ability to cope with stresses in our life. Further, self-compassion may have protective effects against anxiety and depression, and cultivate our motivation. Finally, self-compassion can help to promote and enhance our relationships with others.

Undoubtedly, there are many underlying causes of addiction. However, despite the differences in causes, self-compassion can aid in everyone’s recovery in several ways. First, the most important step of the recovery process is having the motivation to begin. Self-compassion allows us the motivation to initiate, and continue through-out the recovery process, persevering when we face an obstacle.

Secondly, the strong relationships which result from self-compassion will aid in the recovery process. Having a stable and encouraging social network helps an individual in many ways throughout the recovery process. Social networks provide a sense of belonging and purpose to an individual’s life, as well as providing them support and a sense of security. These are indispensable in the recovery process, and can be improved through bolstering one’s self-compassion.

Finally, there are many struggles which are faced through the recovery process, and a harsh approach toward oneself will only hinder the journey to recovery. Self-compassion gives us the ability to forgive ourselves for our missteps. It allows us to move past our failures, and feel confident enough to try again. Indeed, the resilience which is fostered by self-compassion allows a recovering addict to remain committed to the goal of recovery, despite the challenges which they may face.

In order to see how self-compassionate you are, take the test below:

There are many ways to improve one’s self-compassion. First, consider how you might treat a friend or loved one who is experiencing the challenging situation which you are facing. Often, we feel that being kind to ourselves may be letting ourselves off the hook for a mistake we have made or allowing ourselves to accept a failure too easily. On the contrary, being kind to ourselves allows us to accept the failure or mistake and try again. Often, it is much easier to treat others kindly in these situations. But next time you are dealing with a challenging situation, treat yourself how you may treat a friend or loved on in the same situation.

Secondly, recognize the common humanity in your struggles. Each one of us has many struggles throughout our lives. Although they may all be different, you are not alone in your struggles. The thought that we are alone in our struggles can make us feel isolated and alone. The simple act of recognizing that the failure and struggles you face are not specific to you, alleviates the burden of feeling isolated.

Self-compassion is important for a fulfilling and satisfying life for everyone. However, it can be especially helpful in the process of recovering from an addiction. The variety of psychotherapies offered at Searidge help to adjust how one evaluates situations and treats themselves, fostering a sense of common humanity and the development of self-compassion. The integration of psychotherapies allow a holistic recovery for patients at Searidge. Take the time to consider your level of self-compassion and how it may aid you in your recovery process. This in itself will help to develop your self-compassion.

“Our successes and failures come and go—they neither define us nor do they determine our worthiness.”

~ Kristin Neff

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