As we’re doing the work to recover, we find that many of our mental and emotional patterns have been contributing to our addictive patterns, often without our being conscious of them. We’ve developed patterns of denial, secrecy and dishonesty. We’ve been dishonest with the people around us but also more importantly with ourselves. We’ve lied to ourselves about just how problematic our addictions have become, how difficult our lives have been, and how much pain we’ve been in. We’ve tried to convince ourselves that we’re fine, that our addictions aren’t so severe after all, that we just need one more high and then we’ll quit. We might not have realized yet that our dishonesty has actually been exacerbating our struggles. We’ve essentially been enabling ourselves and allowing our addictions to fester and worsen. When we’re in recovery, we’re being called to find the strength within ourselves necessary to finally be honest with ourselves.
Being honest with ourselves can be terrifying. We have to look at the wounds and hurts that have been lingering within us, causing us tremendous pain for years of our lives. We have to face ourselves and stop hiding from our truth. That means we might have to look at traumatic experiences and losses we’ve been unable to look at because the pain felt too great. We might have to resolve issues within ourselves that we’ve been avoiding facing. All of this takes courage, and very often we feel as though we’re lacking in courage, so we don’t take steps forward, we don’t try to initiate change, and we don’t reach out for help, all because we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re powerless over our fear.
Finding the strength we need to be honest with ourselves entails seeing the courage within us, recognizing the innate inner strength and resilience we all have that may have been impaired by our addictions but not depleted. Our painful life experiences made us feel weak. Our fear tells us we’re cowards. But we can begin to affirm to ourselves that we are in fact strong, brave and powerful. We can start to uplift and encourage ourselves more with how we speak to ourselves and think about ourselves. We can shift our self-perception and modify our self-talk to become more self-empowering. “I am strong. I am brave. I am powerful. I have all the courage I need to face my fears and be honest with myself. I am stronger than my fears. I am stronger than my addictions.” The more we can see ourselves as being courageous and remind ourselves that we are in fact brave, the more we will feel strong enough to take on this particularly difficult challenge of being honest with ourselves in recovery.
As we’re growing in self-love and appreciation, we can start asking ourselves some of the tough questions we’ve been hesitant and afraid to ask. “What have I been hiding from, and why? What lies have I been telling myself? How have I been dishonest with myself? What am I in denial about? What truths am I being called to explore? What pain needs to be confronted? What am I still burying and suppressing inside of me? What fears am I afraid to face?” We can help ourselves explore these questions by asking a therapist to help us with the process, especially because many of us are beginning this journey of self-examination for the very first time, and it can be daunting and overwhelming to look at things we’ve never explored before. We can use journaling, meditation, spiritual practice and self-care to nurture ourselves as we take on this challenging work. We want to be patient with ourselves, and give ourselves understanding and compassion, as we undertake this aspect of our recovery.
We might be tempted to keep lying to ourselves because denial can feel so much easier than facing hard truths. We might be tempted to return to our drugs of choice rather than do the hard work of being honest with ourselves. But we want to, as much as possible, remind ourselves that this work is necessary for our growth and our evolution as part of a successful recovery. We want to remind ourselves that our addictions are a form of escapism and distraction that only take us further from our truth and further from healing. We often get to a point in our recovery where we feel as though we simply can’t take the lies anymore. We can’t continue with the dishonesty because it’s hurting us, and we want to be free from the pain and the self-destructiveness. We want to do whatever it takes not only to be sober but to be clear and present with ourselves, to be honest and upfront with ourselves, and to tackle things we’ve been afraid to confront for so long. We get to a point where the escapism of lying to ourselves no longer feels like comfort or relief. It feels like we’re hurting ourselves more, postponing our healing and hurting our chances of recovery. We decide we want better for ourselves, we want to love ourselves, and one of the first steps in the journey of self-love and recovery is to start being honest with ourselves so that we can achieve true healing.
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.