How to Rebuild Self-Confidence After a Relapse
Just about anyone in recovery knows that relapse can deal a blow to your self-confidence. Studies have also shown there is a strong link between poor self-confidence and addiction and mental health problems. If left unchecked, one slip-up with drugs or alcohol that damages your self-confidence thus can have a snowball effect, turning a small brush with drugs and alcohol into one longer, more destructive spiral back into addiction.
But relapse doesn’t have to end like that. On the contrary, if rebuilding self-confidence in the wake of relapse is a priority to your recovery, the good news is there are some very manageable ways to get there. Here are three, and you may have others:
- Try neurofeedback. The latest research has turned up a revolutionary finding: brain scans can detect when you are feeling more self-confident, and these same brain wave patterns correlating with higher self-confidence can be positively reinforced via neurofeedback, thereby boosting overall self-confidence. In a study published just last month, researchers used brain scanning to monitor and identify specific patterns associated with high confidence states while study participants performed a simple perceptual task. Every time the subjects’ brains exhibited a highly confident state, they received a small monetary reward. When the same test subjects had to rate their confidence at the end of the training, they “consistently” reported being more confident. In other words, greater self-confidence may now be quicker to acquire than many of us once dreamed.
- Make smaller, realistic recovery goals you can keep. Small but positive behavioral choices, however insignificant they may seem, add up to greater self-confidence in the long haul. Following relapse, it can be easy to psych yourself out by assuming that because you relapsed, you now need to take some drastic or dramatic action to beef up your recovery. But while it may seem counter-intuitive, a seemingly insignificant action — say, for example, taking a walk with a friend or doing a kind deed for a colleague —can be a step forward in recovery and the best thing for your self-confidence. Why? Because it’s something you can do. What your self-esteem most needs from you, after all, is not one dramatic, super hero act, (which is not real life for most of us), but rather a regular and daily build-up of small but positive choices that connect you to yourself and to others in healthy and loving ways.
- Meditate on how self-confidence feels/might feel to you. Ultimately, self-confidence is the capacity to feel comfortable and at home in one’s own body; it’s being able to trust your inner resources as a guide to what you feel and need in order to be healthy and in new and potentially stressful situations. Meditate on a sober time when you felt deeply relaxed and at home in your own skin or proud and gratified about something you accomplished. Allow yourself to notice the sensations and images that come to mind. See if you can capture that moment in your mind’s eye and linger there. If you cannot recall a moment in the past when you felt self-confident apart from drugs or alcohol, instead imagine what a self-confident version of yourself might be doing, where they are, how they are talking or expressing themselves, etc. The images that come to mind may surprise and enlighten you.
Got a tip for rebuilding self-confidence in the wake of a relapse? Share it with the rest of us!