Have you ever felt like you were living in a haze? Do you regret actions you made impulsively? Do things around you easily trigger you? If you feel this way, you are just one of the many people who suffer from the emotional and mental impact of substance addiction. Drinking or using alcohol and drugs may make you feel better for the time being, but they have a way of “blurring” or “blunting” your sense of reality and self-awareness.
What Is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is the state of being able to recognize and analyze your behaviors and emotional reactions to things or circumstances. Human beings begin developing this basic life skill in infancy when bodily self-awareness starts to emerge. Self-awareness matures into self-consciousness, eventually building a holistic identity based on selfhood.
When self-awareness is employed as a health concept, it refers to a healthy human rationale through which we can understand why we do what we do and why others react the way they do. It is part of social and emotional development that leads to building healthy relationships. However, little or no self-awareness may contribute to many mental health conditions, such as anxiety, impulsivity, and personality disorders.
Why Does Addiction Blunt Self-Awareness?
Many people choose to blunt their self-awareness by abusing drugs or alcohol. Many people with addictions desire to escape their reality, often because of physical pain, emotional pain, or a history of trauma. Wading through life’s challenges head-on can become too difficult for these people.
When people with addiction choose to self-medicate, they also avoid and deny their inner emotional turmoil. It is easier to numb their senses and push aside pain than to deal with it or work through it. Over time, turning part of themselves off begins to degrade their self-awareness.
For example, some people ignore the physical symptoms of substance addiction, even though they know their health is deteriorating. Instead, they suppress painful memories and search for artificially-generated euphoria. Doing this can lead to memory loss, sleep problems, and loss of communication skills, perpetuating a blunted sense of self-awareness.
Why Is Rebuilding Self-Awareness Essential for Addiction Recovery?
Self-awareness is foundational to relapse prevention. Many core treatment methods are designed to address a lack of self-awareness. Individuals need to be self-aware of triggers, cravings, and what steps to take to mitigate these risks. Those with better self-awareness are generally more grounded and connected with themselves and therefore have better relapse-prevention skills and outcomes.
To understand and process one’s emotions during recovery, one needs to improve self-awareness. Individuals need to identify and acknowledge difficult feelings rather than run away from them. For example, when signs of anger show, they need to work through them by reflecting on the root cause of that anger.
Self-awareness is also a sign of brain healing. Because addiction is a chronic brain disease, people’s self-awareness is often impaired due to neurological changes in the brain. Brain healing coincides with a return and improvement in this key human capability.
How Will This Benefit Me?
With improved self-awareness during recovery, individuals can experience a wide range of health benefits. For example, self-awareness can encourage independence. It reminds people that they are unique individuals with personal skills and strengths. This is the first step toward ending codependency.
Self-awareness is based on honesty, which keeps a recovering individual accountable. This crucial attribute can awaken a sense of personal responsibility and helps overcome denial. It forces the person to realize how their behavior impacts others. In this way, self-awareness also promotes selflessness and repairs relationships.
How to Improve Self-Awareness During Recovery
First, a recovering individual can use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which uses proven methods to identify and process negative emotions. CBT works to restore a sense of self-awareness about one’s emotions and actions.
Second, individuals can commit to 12-Step group therapy. These groups create a safe space for peer-to-peer learning and support. Listening to others with similar conditions share their emotional struggles can help recovering individuals find empathetic support and gain more awareness about their needs.
Last but not least, holistic and sensory approaches can work wonders for self-awareness. Take creative therapies, for example. Art and music therapies engage participants in nonverbal expressions of their emotions. These hands-on activities help restore the mind-body connection, improving self-awareness.
Beneficial Self-Care Methods
Mindfulness meditation is the top self-care method to use to improve self-awareness. Although deep breathing may sound boring, it trains the brain to focus on one thing while processing real-time information. Meditation is a grounding exercise to clear and sober the mind.
Keeping a recovery journal is another great way to practice self-care for better self-awareness. A journal is a space where individuals can connect deeply with themselves. That is all self-awareness is about. Re-reading old entries and observing growth and changes can also foster a strong self-awareness.
Have you ever envisioned living a sober and balanced life? What makes it appealing? Maybe it is the sense of clarity about reality and yourself. Self-awareness is important for people in recovery because long-term use of substances can rob the brain of this capability. Psychotherapy and holistic methods can all promote self-awareness. Laguna Shores Recovery has a team of experts to support you on this journey. At Laguna Shores, we customize treatment plans for you. Our plans include self-care and time management skills for healthy life balance in addition to detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and life skills coaching. A new beginning can be yours today. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (866) 774-1532.