Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Residential Week 11: Self-Love and Acceptance

Group Objective: To explore the power of self-love and self-acceptance as recovery tools.

Key Teaching Points: Often people believe that self-criticism will facilitate change. In this group, we will explore the possibility that self-love and acceptance are more powerful change agents than judgment.

Materials Needed: Handouts, whiteboard or flipchart, markers

Reading from Conscious Recovery: Self-criticism is limited. It can deteriorate our self- worth and efficacy. If we’re looking primarily through the lens of self-criticism rather than the lens of self-love, we can get stuck in a repetitive cycle of addiction. Habitual self- judgment reinforces one’s belief in a broken self.

Early in my recovery I heard someone say, “Recovery is not about changing yourself— it’s about loving and accepting yourself.” At the time this made no sense because all I could see was how much was wrong in my life and how much I needed to change. What I couldn’t see at the time is this: Love and acceptance are much more powerful change agents than judgment. Miraculous things can happen when I shift my approach from changing this or that about myself—from “What’s wrong here? What needs to be fixed?”—to radical self-love and acceptance, or “What’s right here? What can be celebrated?” This approach focuses on what the addiction is authentically about, what it tells us. If we add to this the spiritual perspective, we receive even more. Recovery from the room of Spirit can help us see that what we’re genuinely seeking is love and connection, which are found when we turn inward, to our essential nature. Spiritual recovery encourages us to be fully present, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It gives us the safety we need to be in the moment and feel whatever it is we’re truly feeling. Looking at what is truly being sought in the addictive behavior can be a powerful tool for us as we begin to unravel how our search for love and connection has been derailed and moved to the external realm by our core false beliefs about ourselves and the world. So, we shift from an outer-focused life to an inner-focused way of being and seeing. Again, it’s a shift in focus.

Residential: Week 11 Group Outline

Self-Love and Acceptance

(10 minutes) Meditation

(10 minutes) Check-in: Everyone says their name and says something about judgment.

Review Shared Agreements

  • One Person Speaks at a Time

  • Confidentiality

  • Share the Air

  • No “Fixing”

  • “I” Statements

  • Feedback Upon Request

    (15 minutes) Group Activity (Tied Up in Knots): Have participants (even number) stand in a circle shoulder to shoulder. Say: “Extend your left hand into the center of the circle. Take someone’s hand that is NOT standing next to you. Do the same thing with your right hand, making sure that you do not grab the hand of the person standing next to you OR the person whose hand you are already holding. Now, untie the knot without letting go of anyone’s hand.” (Silently first.)

    (20 minutes) Group Process (Small Groups): Have people break into three small groups and read the reading (out loud) and discuss.

    (10 minutes) Group Process: Have one person from each group stand in front of the room and report what their group discussed.

(15 minutes) Dyads: Break into pairs. Each pair discusses the following questions. (It might be wise to write them on the board/flipchart.)

  • What is the difference between “other” esteem and self-esteem? (Other esteem is getting validation from an outside source).

  • What is a more powerful “change agent” – criticism or love?

  • What are some ways you can practice self-love?

    (Time Permitting) Group Discussion: What stood out in the group? (10 minutes) Closing Process

READING ONE From Conscious Recovery

To unlearn our core false beliefs, to look inward at what is keeping us locked in unhealthy patterns, can be problematic for many of us who are struggling with addiction, in part because of the way we perceive ourselves and reality. We might habitually view ourselves in terms of “right” and “wrong;” perhaps we think recovery is about fixing ourselves. But this judging approach does little to help us create safety. People don’t often feel safe when they are judged; they feel safe when they are loved and accepted. Deep inner change comes not from identifying what needs to be fixed, but from identifying what’s in the way of our natural experience of the love we are. The Sufi poet Rumi states it this way: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

READING TWO From Conscious Recovery

When we treat addiction as the problem, what we’re ultimately doing is supporting a worldview that says the way to grow and improve is to say,

“What’s wrong here?” and then fix it. This means that if we want to recover, then we need to be self-critical. “If we can just identify what’s wrong, if we can just fix certain things about ourselves, then we can change.” Again, this defines the person who has an addiction as broken in some way. Does this perspective work in the long run? It may work for a while, and of course at certain points in our recovery we do need to identify things we want to change. However, if we maintain this perspective long-term, we will quite possibly continue to unconsciously create more brokenness in our lives.

READING THREE From Conscious Recovery

Many of us believe our addiction is the problem. We don’t like how addiction makes us feel or behave, so we think that once we let go of the addiction, the problem will be solved. We break the addictive habit because we think the addiction is wrong. When we start looking around, we can see that much of the way the world has been structured is based on this approach: identifying the problem and removing or solving it. We can see this approach in the work place. We see it in the educational system and in government, we see it in the western medical model, which asks, “What’s the symptom? How do we get rid of it?” And of course, we see it in recovery models that, in effect, identify the addiction as the problem, and the addict as “wrong.”