Self-awareness is one of the most important skills to improve recovery from addiction or mental illness. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own emotional reactions, triggers, patterns, and effect on others. It’s a major factor in understanding why you do what you do and why others react the way they do. Having greater self-awareness helps you break bad habits, regulate your emotions, and live more deliberately. Unfortunately, self-awareness is also very difficult. We assume we understand ourselves better than anyone because we know what goes on in our heads and we know what we’ve been through. However, those things don’t always lead to self-awareness. We’re also exceptionally good at deceiving ourselves through denial, rationalization, and willful ignorance. However, there are ways to become more self-aware; they just take a little practice.
Talk to a therapist.
Perhaps the best way to start being more self-aware is to talk to a therapist. Most of a therapist’s job is to ask questions that lead you to understand yourself better and help you develop strategies to regulate your emotions. While this process is not always easy, it is certainly one of the gentler roads to self-awareness.
Ask for feedback.
Although your therapist can offer an expert perspective, it’s still only one perspective. If you want to understand how other people see you, you have to ask them. This can be both tricky and painful. It’s tricky because your friends and family will usually want to spare your feelings and they may be reluctant to give you honest feedback. So you have to make it clear that it’s OK or find a way for them to submit feedback anonymously. Perhaps you can get a friend to gather written statements and give them in a document with the names removed. It can be difficult to hear what people really think of us, so you have to be in the right frame of mind for this exercise. You may also want to discuss it with your therapist first.
Keep a journal.
One of the best ways to become more familiar with what’s happening in your head is to keep a diary or journal. Write down what’s been happening and how you feel about it. Be as specific as possible. Ask yourself why you feel that way. After a while, patterns will begin to emerge. You may also become more skilled at recognizing emotions as they arise in daily life.
Practice mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the simple practice of sitting quietly and noticing thoughts and feelings as they arise. This is much harder than it sounds. The normal thing is to get wrapped up in these thoughts and feelings and totally forget you were supposed to be watching them. With practice, you can get some distance from them and you will begin to see how they fit together. In daily life, you’ll begin to notice how certain thoughts, situations, and people make you feel and you’ll be able to take a moment before reacting.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.