Our addictions and mental health issues have a way of overtaking our lives and causing us to forget who we are beyond our illnesses. We can begin to feel as though our identities have been reduced to being merely addicts and people who are mentally ill. We have a hard time remembering what it was we loved about ourselves before our addictions began, what we loved about life, and what we appreciated about ourselves. We lose sight of our passions, interests, career aspirations and plans for the future. We lose touch with what kind of life we once envisioned for ourselves, what goals we had, what things we dreamt of. We can feel deeply sad, afraid and confused. We feel filled with fear about the uncertainty of the future, as well as regret and shame about the past. Our self-perception revolves around our lives as addicts, the daily struggles that accompany our addictive patterns, the recurring issues we’re suffering with, the constant feelings of worthlessness and self-hate. How can we begin to determine our identities beyond the pain of our addictions?
Our addictions are illnesses we must accept as part of our identities, but they are not the entirety of them. They are just one of the countless elements that make up who we are. How we view ourselves, how we feel about ourselves, and how we treat ourselves determine our self-identification and self-worth. If we focus all of our energy on identifying with our addictions, that is how we will self-identify, and we will lose our connection to all of the other beautiful things there are to love about ourselves. We can consciously choose to broaden our self-perception, to see ourselves more fully and more holistically. We can choose to remember that we are whole people, full of gifts, strengths, unique traits and challenges. We can remind ourselves that who we are as individuals extend far beyond our addictions and how they’ve impacted our lives.
If you could begin to envision yourself as the person you feel you were born to be, what would that person look like? What would she be doing? What brings her a sense of purpose and fulfillment? What lights her up from within and makes her soul sing? What makes her happy? All of those things can be the goals, dreams, and intentions we have for ourselves, and they can all contribute to the formation of our identities. Start focusing on this future version of yourself so that you can actively visualize and manifest that version, rather than staying too focused on the hardships of the present moment. Focus also on gratitude for everything you have in your life, the opportunity to recover, people to support you, the consciousness and motivation to want to get well. Be grateful for everything you are, all the challenges that helped strengthen and empower you, all the lessons that helped shape you. Allow your gratitude for what you have now, and for the progress you’re making in moving forward, to empower you to manifest the identity you want for yourself, an identity that is so much greater than your illness.