Our personalities are the culmination of all the habits, patterns, thoughts and feelings that we’ve come to associate with ourselves and that we’ve used to formulate our identities. We tend to think that our personalities are permanent and set in stone, that they can’t be changed even when we’re not happy with them. We come to believe in this form of self-identification so strongly that we don’t realize our immense capacity for self-transformation, for radical healing and for changing how we feel about ourselves. We use our personalities to justify the things we don’t like about ourselves, claiming “well that’s just who I am, that’s just my personality” instead of acknowledging that we could work to make changes in our behaviors, our choices and our lives. How do our personalities impede our progress in recovery? How do they hold us back?
The way we create our personalities has a lot to do with our traumatic experiences. Many of us take on the personality traits of victimization, of powerlessness and hopelessness, and we develop coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms with the subconscious intention of protecting ourselves from more hurt down the line. The problem with self-identifying too much with our trauma is that the difficulty in our experiences is not what defines us, it is how we transcend that difficulty that really makes us who we are. We are not our trauma, we are survivors of it. We are not victims of domestic violence or mental illness or addiction, we are survivors of them.
What would our personalities be if we identified with more than just our pain? Who would we be if we stopped formulating our identities around the stories of our traumas? Chances are our personalities would reflect our strength, our courage and our determination. We would identify with our interests and our passions, our gifts, talents and strengths. Our personalities would be based on the light we can offer to the world, the ways in which we can help people, the ways in which we’ve empowered ourselves. In addition, the things we don’t like about ourselves, the things we’re unhappy with, can be changed because we have the power to recreate ourselves and to reinvent our identities in ways that serve and empower us.
Our personalities don’t have to be limited to our pain. We don’t have to self-identify only with the things that we think make us inadequate. We don’t have to form our personalities based on self-judgment and self-deprecation. We can allow our personalities to be our motivation, our forward momentum, rather than what we’ve allowed to hold us back for so long.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.