Charity Can Boost Addicts’ Self-Esteem
Addicts suffer from negative feelings about themselves. Helping others can be the first step in resisting cravings and breaking the addiction. The article provides an explanation of how addicts can achieve this.
More than thirty million men and women in the English-speaking countries suffer from an addiction. Alcoholism, gambling, adult content, compulsive shopping and binge eating are some examples. The majority of those who suffer would love to overcome their problems and they try regularly to free themselves – but usually don’t succeed and eventually give up. Although there are numerous pieces of advice on how to quit an addiction, most of them work only when they are applied within a comprehensive treatment.
Many addicts suffer from a low self-esteem
One of those tips that a large number of addicts find very effective is called “Help Others”. If you suffer from some type of addictive behavior you could also try this. You might have noticed already that your self-esteem isn’t very strong. For sure, your addictive, compulsive behavior hasn’t helped you in developing more positive feelings about yourself. Don’t blame it on the addiction, though. Probably, your self-respect was already underdeveloped when you were a teenager or even when you were a child.
Most addicts suffered from great difficulties during the time when they were five to fifteen years old. Bullying at school, physical or emotional violence at home, the parents’ divorce when the child was six years old and the child blamed itself for Mom or Dad leaving etc. Many possible causes for a child not developing a healthy self-esteem. Later in life this can promote the development of addictive behavior.
The vicious cycle that you’re stuck in
One of the consequences of your lower self-esteem is a lack of respect and love towards yourself. This promotes even more addictive behavior, and in turn, even more negative feelings. You must break this vicious cycle to stop an addiction. Obviously, deep within you are longing for love, like anybody is.
There is a psychological rule: the more love you give to others, the more you find back love for yourself. Whenever you do something good for others, you strengthen respect for yourself. Engaging in acts of charity can help you escape the vicious cycle described before. The effect is even stronger if you manage to be good towards others in moments of craving, i.e. if you help others instead of giving in to your addiction.
Example of what you could do
Let’s look at some examples of what you could do. You could donate money to cancer aid organizations, to help protect the rainforest, to help poor children in Africa or Asia. You could volunteer at a pet shelter if you prefer animals to nature or humans. What about senior people? You could talk and listen to them – in a retirement home or in a park nearby. Could you bring joy to somebody in your family or at work? Could you donate blood? What about the homeless?
Celebrate what you have done – and plan ahead
Whatever you choose to do- be proud about it and celebrate it. Write down on a piece of paper what you have done. Leave that paper at your desk or carry it with you in your wallet or bag. Picture the happiness that you brought to somebody’s life, be proud that you contributed a little change. The money or the time that you could have invested into your addiction was spent for something meaningful. Maybe this doesn’t mean the end of your addiction, yet, but it’s one little step.
Whenever you feel craving again the next time, remember the good thing(s) that you have done before. Can you repeat it? It’s important that you use sober moments to plan. When you suffer from a craving attack you should know exactly and immediately which act of charity you decided to engage in. Plan it beforehand so that you can act quickly and decisively and chase away the urges for your drug.
Charity towards yourself
And why only doing something good to others? Start thinking about how you could bring more joy into your own life. What could you do for yourself? For sure, you need some act of charity as well. The second step after giving to others is giving to yourself. What could you do to fill the emptiness inside. As mentioned before, tips like these are much stronger when they are embedded into a comprehensive addiction treatment.
Therefore, one of the things you could do for yourself is starting a therapy or counseling against your addictive behavior. In many cases, self-help programs can help you overcome your problems.
I am Frank Lavario, founder of Lavario, an organization that offers self-help programs and counseling against addictions. Our idea is to provide help to the millions of addicts out there who are afraid to open up to a psychotherapists and who prefer getting anonymous support online.