Identity Crisis: Resolving Perceptions of Past and Present Selves
People often measure the quality of their life based on their past decisions, accomplishments, and even shortcomings. While it is good to learn from the past to become more resilient and make better decisions moving forward, when you dwell in the past, it becomes problematic. In recovery and especially early recovery, it is common to identify with the past because you have spent years using substances. As a result, the habits you have developed become all you know.
Additionally, you might not know who you are or who you want to be after getting treatment, and this could cause you to defer to past habits. Understand that history happened in the past, and that is where it can remain. Recovery is about discovering who you are without substances, and once you let go of the past, you will embark on the most satisfying and empowering journey of your life. Let’s look at some of the ways to resolve past perceptions and work toward a healthier self-identity.
Change Your Mindset
It might be comfortable to focus on the negative side of early recovery because you are used to negatively viewing yourself. However, long-term substance use alters your hormones and influences your emotions. Soon, your identity becomes your addiction. Addiction naturally wants to draw you back toward using; therefore, it will deceive you and create negative thoughts to convince you to use. Since people tend to move towards their dominant thoughts, it is crucial to shift your mindset to a positive outlook and drive yourself toward making healthier decisions.
You first need to recognize that you are not your addiction. Implementing a gratitude journal, positive self-talk, and using mindfulness will aid you in the pursuit of a better mindset. For example, writing or saying things to yourself such as “I am great” or “I can handle this” might seem insignificant in theory, but they profoundly impact your overall outlook over time. Also, sitting with and questioning negative thoughts will reveal that your negative thoughts don’t have a justifiable reason to be there. However, positive thoughts do. Recognizing thoughts and emotions also helps you identify triggers, and this is very useful in helping you overcome them.
Create a Network of People that Support You
Remaining in contact with those you used with or that you might have hurt or hurt you is a sure way to keep you living in the past. You likely know the “friends” in your life that prevent you from freeing yourself from the past. Recovery is all about re-establishing and building trust in relationships and surrounding yourself with friends, family, and peers that put your recovery first. You are encouraged to cut ties with those that remind you or pressure you to succumb to habits and beliefs about your past. However, you must remember that you are no longer this person. Even approaching the loved ones you might have hurt in the past takes time, and you might not want to jump into a relationship with them before you are ready.
Set Reasonable Goals
Being patient, rational, and reasonable is the essence of recovery. Utilizing these elements will help you create strong goals that will help you forget about negative things in the past and focus on the future. Additionally, reasonable goals will help you avoid burnout or feeling like you have reached failure when you do not meet a goal. Remember, you cannot measure the importance of goals in terms of size but rather consistency. Whether making your bed or getting a promotion, every goal is just as crucial to the overall journey.
There is no pace but your own to follow. When you move at your own speed, you will realize that you have more control over your choices and have the potential to keep achieving more extraordinary things in life. While it is great to think about long-term and short-term goals, the vital thing to remember is to stay in the present and accomplish the task at hand. Over time you will accumulate much growth.
Learn to Forgive
Disconnecting in the immediate from people who might have hurt you in your past does not mean that you cannot ever build a relationship with them. However, it requires forgiveness of self and others. Forgiveness of self takes understanding and acceptance of your past to determine that who you were is not who you are today. Self-forgiveness allows you the freedom to understand that no matter what others might think of you, you know and understand who you are. It is essential for moving forward and asking for forgiveness and forgiving others.
Not only will you understand that people are not out to hurt you intentionally, but that others have the choice to accept or reject your apology. Understand that it is entirely up to them, not you. You have moved on, and others might need time before they accept your apology and forgive you.
Don’t Try to Impress Others
Your recovery is your story to tell, and nobody will ever see things the way you do. You don’t owe people explanations for why you’re making the changes in your life that you are. Suppose you are in any relationship where you feel that you need to seek approval for your decisions. In that case, you should reassess the relationship and either disconnect from this person or set boundaries with them. Setting boundaries is a great way to establish respect from others who care for you and might not realize they are overstepping. Furthermore, trying to please everyone does nothing but lead you to frustration.
No forward progress can happen if you are still defining yourself by your past. If you are currently recovering and trying to move forward but are finding it difficult to think of your past, the time to seek help is now. At Choice House, we provide a comfortable, secure, and safe space for men to talk about and find the tools necessary to help them overcome their substance use and mental health disorders. Located in the beautiful Boulder, Colorado landscapes, we utilize nature to create an experience unique and filled with endless inspiration. Our efforts are motivated to help men rebuild relationships with themselves and the loved ones in their lives. Our approach is not a one-size-fits-all, but rather, we include conventional and alternative care approaches based on each individual’s needs. To begin your adventure toward your new self, reach out to Choice House today and call (720) 577-4422.