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The Importance of Liking Yourself

The Importance of Liking Yourself

Self-image can motivate positive or negative behavior based on how people feel about themselves

A negative self-image is an unhealthy trait that can adversely affect behavior and mood. Left unchecked, poor self-esteem can lead to social anxiety, depression and self-imposed isolation, and many people turn to drugs like opium and opioid painkillers to numb the pain. Smoking opium may temporarily relieve the emotional discomfort, but the drug is highly addictive, and addictive behavior can amplify self-image problems and their effects. Addressing self-image issues is important for improving quality of life and reducing physical and mental health risks, and it is an important step for people dealing with substance abuse issues.

The Risks of a Negative Self-Image

Many factors can contribute to a negative self-image, including upbringing, genetic susceptibility, financial problems, abusive relationships, bullying, broken relationships, job loss, disabilities, mental health issues and discrimination based on gender, age, physical traits, race or sexual preference. Regardless of the factors involved, low self-esteem involves numerous lifestyle and health risks, including the following:

  • The toleration of mistreatment, inequity and abuse from other people
  • Engagement in eating disorders, excessive cosmetic surgeries or self-harm
  • The initiation or amplification of a mental health or personality disorder
  • Difficulties asking for help, developing new relationships or trying new things
  • Potential increase in antisocial, aggressive, disruptive or retaliatory behaviors
  • Development of extreme sensitivity that appears neurotic or passive-aggressive
  • The use of drugs to numb the emotional pain or seek social acceptance

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study in 2011 that found the brain essentially interprets physical pain and social rejection identically, which makes analgesic drugs like opium particularly risky for people who see themselves in a negative light.

Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

Negative life events can cause people to doubt themselves, but a positive self-image provides a healthy defense. Nevertheless, a positive self-image is something that needs to be developed and cultivated through positive lifestyle choices. People can take several steps that will potentially improve their self-image, including the following:

  • Identify conditions and situations that might diminish your self-esteem
  • End unnecessary relationships with people who willfully break you down
  • Pay attention to the content and effects of personal thoughts, beliefs and self-talk
  • Challenge thought patterns that are negative, irrational, inaccurate and maladaptive
  • Understand that your initial reaction may not be the best way to view a situation
  • Avoid all-or-nothing thinking that sees everything as either entirely good or bad
  • Train yourself not to dwell on negatives, discount positives and obsess over mistakes
  • Do not automatically jump to negative conclusions or treat feelings as facts
  • Stop comparing yourself to other people, especially those in the media limelight
  • Make a commitment to include a specific positive activity in your daily routine
  • Start to embrace hopeful statements, focus on positives and make new life goals
  • Forgive yourself for mistakes and avoid burdening yourself with unreasonable demands
  • Compliment yourself for something every day and keep a journal of accomplishments
  • Commit to regular exercise, healthier eating, new hobbies and smiling more

While these tips involve individual efforts, people should also develop positive social support networks. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment stated in 2009 that social support is a primary mechanism that motivates people to change, and it can help with self-esteem, addiction recovery, mental health and many other issues.

Addiction and Mental Health Help

Current, potential and recovering addicts with self-image issues should speak with a treatment professional, and our admissions coordinators can provide help 24 hours a day with information, recommendations and support. We can even check health insurance plans for treatment benefits so please call our toll-free helpline now.