Poor self-esteem is one of the most common elements found in women with addiction. Sometimes the low self-esteem preceded the substance use due to trauma or mental health disorders, or perhaps the poor self-esteem resulted from behaviors related to the substance abuse. Indeed, between the stigma and the effects of substance abuse on your life, your self-esteem is likely only to be impacted more during addiction. Now that you seek healing, can you ever feel like you are enough?
Why Women Have Poor Self-Esteem
Women face excessive trauma due to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from childhood to today. In one 2021 study, the rates of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were between 1.5 to 5 times higher in women than in men. Researchers hypothesized that this was due to the type of trauma that women faced, as women are more likely to experience various kinds of sexual assault, which is more traumatic.
Trauma is one of the primary causes of poor self-esteem in women. As women experience abuse or assault, their brains are overwhelmed and struggle to process what happened. Unfortunately, women often blame themselves. This reaction leads to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem, which continue to fester and grow unless the trauma and self-esteem are addressed.
Other common reasons women have low self-esteem include negative thinking about body image, poor romantic or other relationships, gender inequality at school or work, pressure to meet cultural or familial expectations, bullying, and self-criticism. Learning to let go and forgive yourself and others is one of the healing steps necessary to recapture your self-esteem.
The Part Shame Plays in Low Self-Esteem
Shame is the mastermind behind self-esteem. It is always waiting in the wings, always ready to negate any positive thoughts you may have about yourself, especially when you are in active addiction. Women are shamed by society, they are shamed by each other, and they are shamed by themselves—none of which helps a woman with pre-existing low self-esteem. Accessing addiction treatment can be life-changing in your efforts to move beyond shame.
Looking In the Mirror Without Judgment
One of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences in recovery is to remove all of the layers of guilt, shame, and blame and see yourself for who you really are. No judgments, no bad or good, no right or wrong, no perfect or imperfection. Just you. All of you. A human being.
Taking away all the judgments can be difficult after a lifetime of poor self-esteem and judging yourself harshly. As you find out what it feels like to see yourself without judgment, you will learn what it is like to accept yourself for who you are.
Finding Self-Acceptance in Healing
Self-acceptance is the antidote for poor self-esteem. Even if there are parts of yourself that you do not particularly like or want to change, you can learn to accept who you are in the here and now without applying the moral judgments of good or bad or right or wrong. You do not need to be self-critical anymore.
If the words or actions of others have impacted your self-esteem, you can learn to shut out those influences through self-acceptance. Knowing that you meet your own expectations will be more important than meeting others’ expectations. Knowing that you can face yourself in the mirror will be enough.
Knowing That You Are Enough
You do not need to be perfect to be enough. You do not need to measure up to anyone’s standards, least of all the unrealistic standards you likely measured yourself against in the past. Your past does not define who you are today, and your pain does not determine who you will become.
You have the opportunity to choose to accept yourself in the moment, every moment and to know that you are enough right now. Having an addiction does not make you bad or wrong. It simply makes you human. As a human being, you are entitled to accept who you are without judgment, no matter where you are in life or what you have done.
Learning to overcome poor self-esteem may be a complete change in your way of thinking, and self-acceptance may be an entirely new concept for you. Accepting yourself will help you find healing from the inside out. Most importantly, you will learn that you are already enough, just as you are. Understanding that you are enough is an essential pillar of the recovery process. Without this realization, you will always be searching for what is right in front of you.
Can I ever feel like I am enough? Even though you may suffer from poor self-esteem, you can learn to accept yourself just the way you are. Learning to leave the shame and judgment behind and see yourself as-is can be a powerful, healing experience that will make a difference in your recovery and life. Knowing that you are enough is life-changing and will help you succeed in all that you do. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women wants to help you understand this vital truth about yourself. Healing from addiction will help you to be able to see through all of the shame and guilt and find the self-acceptance that you deserve. Our detox and residential treatment program for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders focus on creating self-awareness to begin the healing process. Please get in touch with us today at (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our program.