Recovery is the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Make no mistake, you don’t get off the carousel at rehab. Life goes on, and it should be fun and rewarding as well as intense and challenging. Anything that helps boost your confidence is valuable, since it was a lack of confidence and self-esteem that could have contributed to addictive behavior. When the rehabilitation process is done right, you should see the confidence of the individual gradually increasing; maintaining positive reinforcement throughout is very effective in this regard.
Post-graduation, the former addict or alcoholic is not surrounded by the structure of inpatient rehab. One’s confidence can be tested and even broken. Thus, lifestyle adjustments and strategies must be developed to catch these situations before they occur or repair them afterwards. The answer to a successful drug-free existence is not to cloister someone from life, but rather to empower them to effectively and efficiently deal with life’s problems in their quest for happiness and success.
The ABC’s for Building Confidence After Addiction Recovery
Here are some methods, some ABC’s if you will, for building confidence after addiction recovery:
Work is vital for survival. The person who is constantly idle, who has tons of leisure and free time, will be miserable. Nothing wrong with leisure and free time – I value mine, but after I’ve been working long hours. You don’t even have to work long hours, just a hard day’s work as a basic building block of your life will go a long way in ratcheting up your confidence. Work environment is important and you should pursue as much as possible a job or career that you enjoy or are interested in.
Focus on Goals
One’s goals in life may or may not be directly connected with what one does for a living. Ideally they would be, but often you have to do something to pay the bills and support yourself and your family while you work on improving yourself or developing a skill or even getting a degree. It could be going to night school to change your career or just a really serious hobby. Life is more enjoyable and confidence is built when you are progressing toward some kind of objective. You can focus on short-term or long-term goals – the point is that you have them and work toward their attainment.
The aftercare program and support network utilize positive reinforcement to help the former addict with post-graduation life. Friends and family should do the same. Even with “tough love,” the second word is the more important of the two. By focusing on the positive, more positivity is generated. It applies to how you treat yourself as well. If you make a mistake, acknowledge that and decide to do better. You should also be able to fall back on your support network for assistance and guidance.
By “stay connected” I do not mean your phone or tablet or Xbox. I am referring to the aforementioned friends, family, and support network. Your confidence can slowly dwindle when you drift out of communication. You can literally forget that you have a number of people going to bat for you and who give a damn. If you do happen to slip up, the impulse can be to NOT communicate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The answer is always to communicate and stay connected.
Recognize Negativity When You See It
In recovery, a good amount of attention is put on positive and negative influences and differentiating between the two. The former user or addict had negative influences in his or her life. Often the person does not even recognize these for what they are. And “telling” them only goes so far – they must see for themselves. As you go out in life, be aware of negative influences and people. Most people want to see you succeed. But a certain minority will seek to cut you down by subtle and insidious means. Obviously, any drug dealer or “friend” who thinks you are better off while strung out is in the latter category. If you can’t straighten these people out, the thing to do is walk away and connect with the positive people in your life.
It’s easy to go running off in all directions at once. It’s also easy to get so overwhelmed that you just stay in one place and don’t do anything. Either scenario is not particularly conducive to building confidence. First, set your priorities. Then work on staying on one task and seeing it through to completion, then move onto the next. You won’t be able to do this all the time but try doing it as much as possible. You should feel a strengthening in your confidence and you’ll see the tangible results of your work. You can practice this in your personal life as well as your job.
Practice Your Faith
If you have a faith or spiritual beliefs, I recommend that you practice them. This is of course highly subjective, which is why I always leave this wide open and offer optional faith-based programs in my centers. Many people find solace and indeed salvation in their religion or spiritual foundation. From this base a sense of purpose and heightened confidence is a common result.
Take Care of Your Body
I tell people over and over that they should not neglect their body. By this I mean proper rest, nutrition, regular exercise, and taking vitamin and mineral supplements. All kinds of sports are also a fantastic way to boost confidence – whether you’re good at them or not. If you feel physically drained and exhausted – or worse, ill – you are not likely to attack the day with vim, vigor or anything remotely resembling enthusiasm. When the body is detoxified from drugs, one must work to restore depleted nutrients and practice new habits of health and wellness.
Don’t Get Too Serious
What do I mean by this? We are told that life is infinitely “serious” and if we don’t possess a perpetual scowl, then we just aren’t taking things seriously enough. I’ll be honest with you. Some of the most confident, competent people – people at the top of their professions – are also the most light-hearted people you’ll ever meet. They smile and laugh quite readily and don’t take things too seriously. Oh, of course this idea can be totally inverted and someone can smile and laugh as they destroy their own lives and the lives of others. That is not what I’m talking about. To boost confidence and feel better about life, just practice smiling and laughing. Just force yourself to smile or laugh. Give it a try. Imbue LIFE into whatever you are doing. You’ll feel your confidence increase at an accelerated rate – and it can rub off on others.