A Valentine’s Day Secret for Loved Ones Feeling the Impacts of Problem Gambling 

24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine: 888-ADMIT-IT

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A Valentine’s Day Secret for Loved Ones Feeling the Impacts of Problem Gambling 

For many, love is in the air this month. However, it may be difficult to feel love for others if you don’t feel love for yourself first – no matter the occasion. This is especially true for someone living with a partner or family member who is suffering from a gambling problem. In addiction, the person who is struggling with alcohol, drugs, or problem gambling can take away any feelings of love through their behaviors. When you, the loved one, loses connection with your values and beliefs in the process, you too begin behaving in ways that go against these principles. You can lose your self-worth and self-esteem as a result! 

When involved in a relationship with someone addicted to gambling, it is very easy to forget about yourself while always putting the other person first, all in hopes it will help the situation. This never works out! It only reinforces the destructive and addictive behavior and does nothing to help you or the relationship. You have to help yourself before you can help others. 

What lies behind us and lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-worth is a reflection of how you treat yourself. Self-esteem reflects how you feel about yourself. There are three ways to look at the self: 

  1. Self-Ideal: Who we would like to be or become. 
  2. Self-Image: The way we see ourselves or our behavior. 
  3. Self-Esteem: How we feel about ourselves, our abilities, and our self-worth. 

Our self-esteem starts early after birth as do our value and belief systems. It is created by our environment and what we believe others say about us is true. In other words, how we are raised can shape us to have a high self-esteem or low self-esteem. Here are some possible causes of low self-esteem: 

  • Overly critical parents 
  • Parental over-protectiveness 
  • Experiencing physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse 
  • Suffering from the impacts of addiction, such as to gambling, alcohol, or drugs 
  • Parental neglect 
  • Parental rejection 
  • Interactions with any other unsupportive authority figures 

All of these have the power to shape our relationships and internal dialogues (or recurring thoughts about the self) as we age. Negative self-talk can be persistent and build up over time. Many listen to thoughts like these and others on repeat without ever confronting them: 

  • “I am not worthy of love.” 
  • “I will never be good at anything.” 
  • “I don’t deserve a good relationship.” 

None of these things are true. It is important to break your comfort zone, challenge these negative thoughts, and reassure yourself that you deserve all the good things you can get in your life from others, like trust, respect, love, and compassion! 

Valentine’s Day Secret: Love Yourself First 

Only after learning to love yourself will you then know how to expect and receive it from others. On Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year, YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED. The next time one of those negative thoughts comes to mind, remember to challenge it out loud or write in a journal to help internalize a positive self-reflection: “No, that is not true. I am not lazy! I work every day and take care of the household.” 

Confidential and multilingual help and hope for problem gambling are available 24/7 in Florida – for both loved ones and gamblers. Call or text 888-ADMIT-IT now if your or someone you know is in need. The HelpLine can also be reached via live chat at gamblinghelp.org, by emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, with the 888-ADMIT-IT mobile app, or by connecting with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on social media. 

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). This year’s theme is Shine the Light on Problem Gambling: 888-ADMIT-IT Fills in the Blanks! If you or someone you know are seeking answers to questions left by gambling addiction, help and hope are always available. Learn more at problemgamblingawarenessmonth.org and share this important campaign.  

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