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One of the hardest parts of recovering from addiction and mental illness is trying to come to terms with how unfulfilled we’ve felt all these years, how disconnected we’ve become from our inner selves, and how much we feel we’ve strayed from our life’s purpose. We don’t feel we have a clear sense of our mission in life. We don’t know what our direction ought to be. We’ve experienced intense overwhelm and confusion compounded by the fact that our thinking, our judgment and our ability to self-reflect were all inhibited by the substances we were addicted to. We’ve been dealing with years of acute stress, anxiety, and worry. We’ve suffered from severe mental health issues. All these things can cause us to lose sight of what we wanted to accomplish in our lives. As we’re undertaking the journey of recovery, we’re left feeling totally bewildered – how should I proceed? What am I meant to do? What is the legacy I want to create and leave behind? Who am I?

Rediscovering our life’s purpose and mission, or discovering it for the first time, takes a great deal of self-exploration and inner healing work. If we’re still embroiled in patterns of toxicity and self-destructiveness, we won’t be able to get clear on what we’re meant to do with our lives. If our thinking is overly negative, if we’re suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety, if we’re still using our drugs of choice to cope, chances are we won’t have the insight or inner connectedness it takes to get clear on our mission. We won’t be capable of being honest and open with ourselves. We won’t have the necessary clarity and sound judgment. We’ll still feel at odds within ourselves, lacking peace of mind, and feeling as though we’re battling ourselves. We won’t be able to access our inner truth because it’s been buried under layers of negativity, noise, and clutter, all forms of distraction from our true selves, all the mental, emotional and behavioral things we do to distract ourselves from who we really are. We use unhealthy relationships, addictive behaviors, substances, and even certain thought patterns to escape our truth and distract ourselves from it. 

Getting clear on the truth of our mission means wading through all these layers of distraction, getting still and quiet within ourselves so that we can hear the guiding voice of our intuition. We can use journaling, creative self-expression, meditation, and energy healing to balance ourselves and achieve more inner peace. We can make a conscious choice to shed the toxic elements in our lives. We can work with a therapist or spiritual guide to figure out why we’ve been so afraid to be truthful with ourselves. We can seek answers within ourselves as to why we’ve been so resistant to being happy and to make our dreams come true. For many of us, our traumatic experiences impacted us so deeply that we began to feel as though we didn’t deserve to follow our passions in life. We feel inadequate because of our traumas and our addictions. We look down on ourselves and feel unworthy and undeserving. Subconsciously we tell ourselves we’ll never be able to live up to our life’s purpose, so we may as well give up trying. We lose faith in ourselves, and we feel hopeless about our ability to create a future we’re proud of.

When we’re in a place of insecurity and self-deprecation, we begin to resist our own healing and wellness. We fight against our own happiness, often unconsciously, and we self-sabotage, stalling our recovery and preventing ourselves from getting well. When we’re this deeply unhappy, we lose sight of the goals and plans we once made for ourselves. We lose our ambition. We lose the motivation we need to set intentions for ourselves, to manifest happiness and good health in our lives, and to follow through on the recovery work we know we need to do to get sober. Our feeling unfulfilled and unmotivated in life can go hand in hand with relapsing. The more down on ourselves we feel, the more filled with shame, disappointment and regret we feel at not being clear on our life’s mission, the more likely we are to relapse and fall back into old patterns of self-harm. As we’re working to stay sober, therefore, doing the challenging work of discovering our life’s purpose is one of the best things we can do to help ourselves get well and stay well. 

When we take the time to pursue old interests or create new ones, when we put energy into our skills and strengths, we feel a deep sense of redemption that makes us want to stay clean so that we can keep reaching for our dreams and become the truest, happiest, most authentic version of ourselves. We start to know what it feels like to make ourselves proud, to feel aligned with our purpose in life, and to leave behind the heartbreak of defeat, self-hate, and regret. We feel happy to be on track with the life we had planned for ourselves, even if our plans now look different to us after years of struggle and the hard work it took to get better. We feel content within ourselves that we’re no longer sacrificing the life purpose we envisioned for ourselves. Whether we’re returning to an old dream we once held for ourselves or creating an entirely new one, the process is exciting and full of all of the potential we have within us – potential to be happy, to live out our dreams, and to make a lasting impact on the world around us.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.