Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The man in our aftercare group hung his head when it was his turn to share. He was only able to drag out a couple of sentences. The topic was self-esteem, and he was supposed to finish the sentence "I'm a great guy because..."

My experience is that our clients get tongue-tied when the subject is self-esteem.

As we went around the circle different clients had different ways of discussing their self-esteem. A few of them immediately turned the topic into how many terrible things they had done in their lives. While they were willing to share, they didn't seem to have too much good to say about themselves.

Their topics ranged from "I stole from everyone," to "I was a poor parent." It was easy for them to veer from the assigned topic of finding something positive about themselves.

To help them zero in on some things that they might feel good about as addicts in new recovery I suggested they begin with little things.

I believe that for any of us our self concept is crucial to our success, whether we're addicts or not. Strong self-esteem gives us the strength and resilience to face the challenges of life.

Had they helped anyone today? Had they been kind to someone when they really felt like being nasty to them? Had they welcomed a newcomer to the program? It is the little things that make up our behavior. We can't always do something dramatic for other people. But if we are of the mindset to be kind and compassionate then when an opportunity arises we can do something that will make us feel better about ourselves.