The Importance of Self Awareness in Recovery

Written by Chloe Nicosia

The importance of self awareness in recovery can’t be overstated. Here’s why it’s essential.

Self awareness is a conscious awareness of your thoughts, behaviors, habits, emotions, and responses that often reside in the subconscious. The importance of self awareness in recovery is evident in treatment programming that works to bring dysfunctional subconscious thought processes to the conscious areas of the brain, where you can work to change them.

How the Brain Manages Mental Functions

Your brain manages a large number of mental functions without needing to consciously think about them. From scratching an itch and blinking your eyes to eating food and driving to the grocery store, your brain works as if it’s on “auto-pilot.” Relegating these functions to the subconscious frees up space for long-term planning and learning.

But when you’re in recovery, paying attention to your automatic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is crucial, and the importance of self awareness in recovery lies in its power to help prevent relapse through consciously thinking about the thoughts and emotions that lead to you drink or use drugs.

How Does Alcohol Affect Self Awareness?

Alcohol and drug addiction lead to dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns, including denial, and it removes your ability to control your emotions and focus your attention. The cravings that come with addiction are powerful, and they overwhelm your conscious thoughts and lead you to use drugs and alcohol without thinking much about it. To answer the question, how does alcohol affect self awareness, it’s important to understand that alcohol affects your ability to think clearly and to direct your conscious attention to your emotions and what lies behind them.

Emotions and Addiction Recovery

Thoughts and emotions are constantly bombarding our brains. We often neglect to question these automatic thoughts and feelings, which can lead to automatic behavioral responses. For example, when you’re stressed out, you may automatically reach for drugs or alcohol to relieve the stress. Most of our habits are governed by our sub-conscious, including compulsive drug and alcohol use.

The importance of self awareness in recovery is fueled by the necessity to question our motivations and habits and become aware of the emotions and thought patterns that lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Emotions and addiction recovery have a lot to do with each other because it’s often our negative emotions that lead to drug and alcohol abuse.

How to Develop Self Awareness

Developing self awareness in recovery is essential for long-term success. Becoming aware of your thought processes and emotions and the behaviors they lead to is the first step in re-training your brain to respond to thoughts and emotions in healthier ways. But how do you become conscious of your sub-conscious thought and behavior patterns?

In treatment, a great deal of time and energy is spent examining the importance of self awareness in recovery and developing the skills that lead to higher self awareness. A number of techniques are used in treatment to help you become more self aware. The most common include:

Meditation. Meditation is the practice of letting go of conscious thought so that you can become aware of your brain’s processes on a deeper, subconscious level. Regular meditation helps you filter out the “noise” that’s constantly bombarding your brain so that you can access the a deeper understanding of and connection to your thoughts and feelings.

Journaling. Writing about your thoughts and feelings sheds a brighter light on them so that you become more aware of how you’re feeling and why. The act of writing about your emotional states requires you to think about and access buried emotions, and the more you write about them, the more clear they become.

Therapy. Therapy in treatment is largely focused on helping you identify dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that you’re unaware of, and it helps you identify and evaluate your beliefs so that you can discard those that don’t serve you well. As you examine your thought processes, you become more aware of why you think the way you think and behave the way you behave. This helps you change unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving.

The importance of self awareness and mindfulness in recovery can’t be overstated. Self awareness improves your chances of successful recovery, and it can improve your relationships, your emotional states, and your quality of life and sense of wellbeing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.