Respect and love begins with you

Love begins with self. What does “loving yourself” really mean? It is being able to forgive yourself, to look deeper than the surface to find who you really are and to be the person you want to be. It is enjoying the opportunity of doing what you love rather than what someone else thinks you should do. To love yourself is understanding that everyone isn’t going to love you, but that’s OK. You don’t have to follow someone else’s yardstick for you. You have to love yourself, know who you are, before you can love others or they can love you, whether you have a substance abuse problem or not.

You are influenced by the people with whom you spend your time – good influences or bad. You are judged by the choices you make, whether or not anyone sees or understands why you have done what you have done.

One of the flaws of human beings is that we think we know all the facts about someone or something that happened to that person, even when we don’t, so we compose our interpretation of what we “see” based on our past experiences. Sometimes we remind ourselves that things are not as they appear to be. Other times we are sure we are right, even when we are wrong. The very idea begs for compassion.

In a recent conversation, it was said that it is important to respect each other. Respect is earned, not just blindly given. It seems to be missing in a lot of places these days. So, how do people come to respect each other? There are websites like entrepreneur.com which offer a little insight about respect:

Be kind and polite to the people in your life and people you meet. Listen when others speak. Not only might you learn something, but sometimes all a person needs is for someone to stop for a moment and just listen, perhaps say some little uplifting something that helps them get back on track … or to help you regain your own perceptions. Be helpful. If you see that someone could use a little help, step in and ask if you can help them. Don’t make excuses. Excuses don’t get things done. Working together does. And when someone raises your ire, don’t avoid the conflict and complain to everyone except the person who made you angry. Deal with the problem with that person and let go of the anger. Embrace change.

These kinds of things fall under the umbrella of the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Is it easy? Nobody ever said life is easy. If you suffered great pain from some injury or surgery and became dependent on the painkillers, you would be addicted to prescription painkillers. Was it intentional? Probably not. But you would still be addicted, and subject to judgment by people who think you did this to yourself. If you were an alcoholic, you would be addicted to alcohol. Intentional? Probably not. But you would still be an alcoholic and judged by others who think you have a character flaw. If you were dependent on heroin, you would still be addicted, even if you did not intend to become addicted. You may have thought, “Won’t happen to me.” But addiction can happen to anyone. And there are those who judge substance abusers.

Recovering from addiction cannot be done alone. Support, encouragement, understanding, treatment are all part of the process. Alcoholrehab.com comments, “Those individuals who feel full of resentment and bitterness about the past can struggle to find happiness in life.” To heal, they have to let go of the grudge and forgive. “This is particularly important for those people who are recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction. Their grudges and resentments can pull them back to substance abuse.”

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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