There is an old philosophical saying claiming that how we think about ourselves defines our existence: “I think; therefore, I am.” You can easily claim this existential quote as being relative to how you view yourself. If you think you are a certain way, then that is how you will act, and it perpetuates your negative beliefs. The key point to this idea is that you can change how you view yourself and, thus, how you act. The truth is that you were created for a purpose, and you can only truly be defined by your Higher Power and yourself.
Many people in recovery confuse their diagnosis with their identity. Some say that since they struggle with addiction, they are an addict. NO! You are a human who struggles. You are not alone — every human struggles. Struggles vary from person to person. If you claim a diagnosis as the sum of your being, you are not giving yourself space to be who you are meant to be.
3 Things You May Have Forgotten About Yourself
#1. You Are a Family Member:
You are a son, father, brother, uncle, nephew, grandson, grandfather. You are a family member, and your family values you, no matter what. Your Higher Power values you as a son. You also have a family that extends beyond flesh and blood. You are part of a brotherhood here at Renaissance Ranch. We value you as a member of our family in recovery.
#2. You Contribute:
Every interaction you have with someone contributes to their day, be it positive or negative. What you have experienced in your life, how you manage it, and how you let it impact you affects others. In Romans 8:28, God promises to use your storms for good. While you may not realize your impact or how you are contributing, you are still impacting others.
#3. You Have Interests:
During your time in recovery, you might remember some of the activities you did years ago and start to attempt them again. Perhaps you loved to play music or write or go snowboarding. Maybe you loved fishing or family gatherings. Now is the time to start identifying your old interests and developing new ones. You may find there is more to you than old behaviors, and the time has come for you to start looking for new interests.
Remembering the myriad of things about yourself that do not fall into a diagnosis helps your recovery and helps you avoid negative thought patterns. Negative thought patterns disrupt your ability to focus on the positive things in your life and make the changes necessary to ensure your recovery.
Your Higher Power does not define you by one set of criteria; He defines you by all of who you are and whom He created you to be. The “automatic beliefs” you have about yourself based on past experiences are not always accurate. Thinking positive thoughts can help; however, what is important to your recovery is thinking accurate thoughts.
Cognitive Restructuring Helps Battle Negative Thoughts
As part of a process called cognitive restructuring, you examine your beliefs about yourself and your situations and look at the truth, not the automatic negative thoughts. While you may have a history of addiction, that history does not define you. While you may have a diagnosis of substance use disorder, that diagnosis does not define you.
Look at your words. Do you introduce yourself as a problem or by your name? For example, do you go up to new people and say, “Hi. My name is bipolar type 1”? No, you introduce yourself by your name. When people ask about you, you tell them who you are, not your diagnostic criteria.
Choosing to share your diagnosis is a personal decision and must be undertaken with people you trust or in situations when it is necessary for treatment or other life necessities. However, do not believe that your diagnosis defines you. You are a unique human being who has struggled like every other human on the planet in your own unique way. Understanding your struggles can help you battle those negative thoughts and restructure them, so the thoughts are no longer defeating you.
Some Important Things to Remember
First of all, you are so much more than a diagnostic code. You are a person with a life story who has struggled just as much as anyone else on the planet. People struggle in different ways, and your struggle does not define you. You are defined by your Higher Power and what you choose to believe about yourself. Recovery is not just about changing your behaviors but also your thoughts and beliefs about who you are. Never settle to define yourself by another person’s standards. You are unique with special unique parts and experiences that no one else on the planet has.
If you do not believe you have the power to change your behaviors or attitude about who you are, consider counseling or restructuring your thoughts. If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, the time might have come to reach out to a place that will treat you as the individual you are. At Renaissance Ranch, we use a gospel-centered approach aimed at helping each individual in recovery reclaim his life for the cause he desires. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize that a person is more than a diagnosis. We understand that you have family and a life beyond your experiences that led you to addiction. We offer family therapy and guidance when you leave recovery. You are a member of a brotherhood that knows you for you, not your diagnosis. If you need help with your addiction, reach out and call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and find your personalized road to recovery.