Our struggles with addiction can cause us to form a self-perception that is dominated by the shame and insecurities we feel as addicts. We think of ourselves in terms of our mistakes and regrets, our shortcomings, wrongdoings and transgressions. We identify so strongly with our illnesses that we allow them to become the bulk of how we self-identify. We see ourselves through the filter of our addictions, meaning everything we think and feel about ourselves becomes tainted by the fact that we’re addicts, and we look down on ourselves for being addicts. We feel ashamed of ourselves, embarrassed by our choices, and disappointed in how far we’ve allowed ourselves to fall. We don’t love and accept ourselves, and our self-perception becomes a product of our self-loathing and self-deprecation. How can our self-perception shift once we’re in recovery?
The addiction recovery process allows us to see ourselves clearly and honestly, sometimes for the very first time. When we’re finally sober, we’re often able to finally be truthful with ourselves, to stop holding back certain things out of fear for the shame they’ll cause us. We stop being instinctively, compulsively driven to hide who we are and to pretend to be things we’re not so that we’ll be accepted and validated. We’re dealing with our true selves and being radically honest with ourselves. In this place of reuniting with our true selves, our self-perception has a chance to shift from being one of denying and avoiding ourselves and our truth, to being one of connection and self-acceptance. We start to love who we really are instead of mourning the loss of who we used to be. We love ourselves for our challenges, our lessons, and our potential. We love who we are in this moment and who we will ultimately become. We love every version of ourselves, including the past versions that experienced tremendous hardship. We see that there were lessons in every experience, spiritual tests in every challenge, and we love everything about ourselves, from the inner strength it took to prevail against addiction to the resilience it takes to live with mental illness.
Our self-perception in recovery becomes a much truer reflection of who we really are. It is no longer based on the lies we told ourselves, the insecurities we felt, our perceived inadequacies and unworthiness. We’re able to create a self-image for ourselves, and a way of thinking and feeling about ourselves, that is based on our truth rather than on our illness.
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.