We can truly start to heal and grow when we learn about ourselves. Self-discovery is the road to self-knowledge, empowerment, and inner peace. Here’s how it can enhance our recovery journeys.
Our recovery work is multilayered and multifaceted, and what it all boils down to, ultimately, is a process of self-discovery. We don’t always view our recovery that way, and even though we might be doing well with our sobriety, we’re still resistant to looking at ourselves honestly, openly, and with vulnerability. We’re afraid of all the difficult emotions we’ve been trying so hard to avoid. We’re afraid of everything that lurks beneath the surface, everything we’ve been covering up and trying to hide, everything we’ve been suppressing. Much of the time, there are things about ourselves we’re not even conscious of yet. Sometimes it takes other people pointing out certain things to us, such as our flaws and shortcomings, for us to even realize they’re there. Other times, we receive epiphanies and breakthroughs that give way to huge transformative change, new and healthier habits, and more healthy lifestyles. As people in recovery, it can feel as though everything is revolving around our sobriety, and while it’s true that our sobriety is a major focal point, true healing is more than simply abstaining from our drug of choice. True healing and growth is also about learning and discovering more about ourselves and a commitment to loving and accepting ourselves fully and unconditionally.
When we embark upon a journey of self-discovery, we’re naturally going to feel scared. Our fear might show up as resistance. We might decide that we don’t actually want to venture too deeply within ourselves after all. We might keep things neutral and lighthearted in our conversations with other people. We might not share personal stories in support group meetings. In therapy we might not go into detail about our painful issues, our recurring life cycles, or the wounds that are still causing us pain. We might instead choose to stay focused on the day-to-day problems we’re experiencing. We might avoid looking at the complexities of our inner selves and feel resistant to discovering more about who we are.
We often find ourselves feeling as though we need to go deeper within ourselves, though, if we really want to heal. We start to see that superficial self-analysis leads to incomplete healing. We notice that even after considerable time has passed, we still don’t feel any better. We still feel depressed, anxious, defeated and exhausted. We’re still struggling with our addictive patterns. We’re still feeling tempted by our drugs of choice. We still feel weak, disheartened and vulnerable. This is because we haven’t even figured out who we are, let alone how to heal ourselves. How can we heal when we haven’t begun to really learn about ourselves and our addictions, why they developed and where they originated from? How can we recover from mental illnesses that we don’t fully understand, that we haven’t gained consciousness around? How can we learn to love ourselves when we don’t know who we are?
Self-discovery is looking at everything, not just the things we’re comfortable with, but all the things we don’t want to face. It’s examining our family patterns of addiction, mental illness, abuse, and neglect. It’s seeing how we’ve been conditioned towards certain choices, behavioral patterns and relationship dynamics from a very early age. It’s familiarizing ourselves with the different kinds of subconscious programming that hold us back in life, and that create the limiting beliefs we cling to out of fear. Self-discovery is looking at the family members we love and admire and seeing them in their wholeness, including the ways in which they might have hurt us, negatively influenced us, and contributed to the pain that morphed into our addictions. It’s doing emotional work around the family members we can’t seem to forgive and making peace with them so that we can release our anger, spite, bitterness, and resentment. It’s learning to have forgiveness for our family, collectively and individually, so that we can allow ourselves to break the recurring dysfunctional family cycles, rather than continuing to unknowingly perpetuate them.
Self-discovery is monitoring everything we do, think and feel, most of which is governed by our subconscious mind, to see where we can align our energy more productively and peacefully. When we are in a mode of self-discovery, we learn where we still need healing and where we’re still falling into patterns of self-destructiveness and self-harm. Self-discovery also means healing our subconscious minds and reprogramming them to feed us more empowering, more affirming, and uplifting truths about ourselves. Discovering more about ourselves means addressing all of the ways in which we’ve been self-sabotaging in our lives overall and in recovery. It means looking at our daily habits, the routines we default to, and the lifestyles we’ve created for ourselves. When we discover more about ourselves, we’re looking at all the progress we’ve made in our lives thus far, and all the changes we have yet to make.
All of this work is done to help us reconnect ourselves with the truth of who we are. Our inner selves get lost, abandoned, and sacrificed to our addictions and because of our mental health issues. We forget who we are. We might feel that we never really knew ourselves because the onset of our addictions stunted our development at an early age, before we even began to fully explore ourselves. When we feel depressed and in the grips of our addictions, we can feel as though we don’t recognize ourselves. We’re so filled with shame that we stop wanting to even know who we are.
Self-discovery is moving through our fears and working with all of these different layers of ourselves, for the sake of learning how to love and accept, and therefore heal, ourselves.