Boulder Recovery Blog

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Self-awareness is critical to addiction recovery. You can’t heal from addiction without recognizing and admitting that you have a problem and how it impacts your life and the lives of those around you. Without self-awareness in recovery, healing is unlikely.

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is the knowledge of your character, feelings, and motivations. It’s understanding why you do the things you do. Self-awareness is an essential skill for anyone to master. It helps you better understand yourself and why you do the things you do. It also helps you get in touch with your emotions and understand them.

Self-awareness is a crucial part of the recovery process because you need to understand why you do what you do and why people respond as they do. Self-awareness in recovery means understanding that you have a problem and unpacking how it impacts your life.

Self-awareness doesn’t come naturally for most people. You have to develop it through conscious effort and practice. You can create this skill with activities including journaling, meditation, reading books on self-improvement, talking with others, and learning about addiction.

Are You Living an Inauthentic Life?

People with addictions live inauthentic lives. They have a side of themselves they share with others and a secret side that they keep hidden. The secret behavior often doesn’t align with their beliefs or values.

T.C. Ryan, author of Ashamed No More: A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction,” and Pastoral Consultant at Boulder Recovery, said many Christian men with addictions aren’t living authentically or with true self-awareness.

“These men have a sense of who they are with what they show others — the face they wear in public. Then they have a shadow self — the self with the addiction or the part of themselves that they don’t like — that they keep hidden,” T.C. wrote.

People with sex addiction spend a lot of time hiding their shadow self from others and may even go against their values again by lying to keep their secrets hidden. They must become self-aware to recognize how addiction is causing them to repeatedly behave in ways that go against who they are and what they believe.

“A lot of our energy can go into ignoring, denying, or hiding our shadow, both from ourselves and others,” he wrote. “We are better served by using that energy to come to terms with our shadow.”

It’s exhausting and stressful to try to live public and shadow lives. And, while people are living as and protecting their shadow self, they can’t even begin to heal.

“The first step is becoming aware of who we really are,” T.C. wrote.“Coming to terms with our shadow is essential for us to make changes that foster personal growth and a better life.”

Why is Self-Awareness in Recovery So Important?

You can’t recover without admitting that you have a problem and how it’s affecting you and your loved ones. Once you admit the problem, you must understand your actions and why you’re acting in ways counter to your values and beliefs.

“Self-awareness is essential to recovery because a man must understand his actions, where they originate, and how they’re impacting himself and those he loves before he truly commits to recovery,” said Matt Wenger, MA, LPC, Clinical Director at Boulder Recovery. 

“You’re going to get out of it exactly what you want at your core to get out of it. If you want to go deep and discover new places in yourself, who you are, and your future… that’s what you’ll get out of it.”

So, if a man continues living as his shadow self or keeping things hidden, he’s unlikely to heal. Programs like Boulder Recovery’s Christian Men’s Intensive can help men understand the root cause of addiction and why they respond to that trauma the way they do. A key to sex addiction treatment and recovery is understanding how the body and mind respond to certain stressor and why those responses feel outside of your control. Knowledge of how your body and mind functions helps you set realistic expectations for healing and informs your recovery journey.

Other benefits of self-awareness include: 

  • Eliminates Denial. When you aren’t self-aware, you deny addiction or other problem behaviors. You can’t address a problem that you deny.
  • Exposes Trauma. Unresolved trauma is the most common cause of addiction. Self-awareness means recognizing the problem and beginning to explore and heal from its root cause. 
  • Identifies Triggers. When you know what sets off your addictive behaviors, avoiding or recognizing them becomes easier. 
  • Keeps You Accountable. Self-awareness also helps with accountability. If you’re fully aware of what triggers your addictive behaviors and why they occur, it’s easier for yourself and others to hold you accountable when necessary.

Practicing Self-Awareness During Recovery 

Self-awareness is a skill you must develop and practice, just like any other. It means peeling back the layers of lies and excuses you’ve been telling yourself to uncover the truth. Various habits and activities can help you develop self-awareness. 

To practice self-awareness:

  • Ask Yourself “What” Questions. You’re looking for specific answers when you ask yourself “what” questions. It helps you become more aware of what is happening in your life and how you feel about it.
  • Keep a Journal. Write down what you did or felt during triggering moments or document your thoughts on what you’re learning about addiction and yourself. It can help relieve stress and anxiety and make you more aware of what you think and why.
  • Avoid Triggers. Triggers cause uncomfortable emotions such as anger, sadness, or fear. If you know what triggers negative behaviors or adverse coping, you can avoid those situations or people.
  • Practice Daily Reflection. Make time each day to think about what happened during that day and how it made you feel. This practice will make it easier for you to notice trends in your attitude, behaviors, and actions.

Where to Turn to Develop Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the first step in recovery from sex addiction. By evaluating your behavior and its reasons honestly, you can better understand your actions and what motivates them, which is key to recovery. Contact us to learn more about addiction recovery at Boulder Recovery.

  • Category: Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • August 30, 2023

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