Anyone who’s fought addiction to drugs or alcohol for an extended amount of time knows that substance abuse insidiously chips away at who you are, leaving you unsure of what’s important in life or what your true purpose is. Like other mental health challenges, addiction lies to you, telling you that you are the sum of your mistakes or that you don’t have enough to offer.
Here are 4 tips for finding yourself during recovery.
Fortunately, choosing to embrace a life of sobriety can help you overcome those negative thoughts and rediscover who you’re meant to be. Because moving from a space characterized by addiction and reliance on substances can be difficult, many mental health counselors recommend active participation in a recovery program.
Whether inpatient or outpatient, programs designed to help individuals get sober offer peer support, much-needed structure, and exposure to healthy activities such as yoga and art or music therapy that are designed to help fill the days.
Here are some tips for finding yourself during recovery and your path to sobriety.
1. don’t focus on the past
We all make mistakes, but continuing to beat yourself up for past decisions won’t help you on your path to sobriety. Turn your thoughts instead, to the future, to the person you want to be. Think of your valued role as a friend, family member, neighbor, colleague, or member of the larger community. Rediscovering who you were and what you cared about before addiction will help you determine who you want to be now.
2. find your sober joy
For someone who is newly sober, finding your true passion can feel like an overwhelming idea. Start smaller. Try to recall the activities or hobbies you enjoyed before using substances. Even something as simple as watching the sun set, listening to music, or hitting the trails with outdoor adventure therapy can help you find feelings of comfort in a new reality that may feel unfamiliar for a bit.
3. try something new
Gandhi once gave this bit of timeless advice: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And frankly, turning your attention to others is often a welcome change of pace after doing the hard work to rediscover yourself. Consider volunteering, whether at a senior center, local animal shelter, or a community soup kitchen. Those who have struggled with addiction often find that their own souls are nurtured by connecting with and helping others, and more than a few individuals who made this discovery eventually used that self-awareness to pursue a career in social services or counseling.
4. give yourself time — and grace
Recovery seems less intimidating when viewed as a journey to be appreciated rather than a destination to rush toward. Think of the path forward as your blank canvas, and experiment with activities that look interesting, new exercises, healthier eating habits. Try your hand at a watercolor painting class, learn a new language, grab a musical instrument. Give yourself the gifts of time and grace to rediscover who you were before addiction, and who you want to be now. Be patient with yourself. Accept that some days will always be better than others, but don’t forget to be proud of all the work you’ve done.
Revered NCAA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Be proud to have valued yourself enough to do the hard work of recovery and rediscovering your self-identity — and for trading an unhealthy path for one with more positivity and room for inspiration.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our programs at Choice House, please contact us.