How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery August 25, 2023

How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative?

The iconic contemporary author Neil Gaiman once said, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” This is the concept that must run through us as we ask ourselves the question, “How can I redefine my self-narrative?” This is especially true for those of us that are seeking recovery from issues of addiction and mental health that quite often rob us of the intended trajectory of our personal story. The good news is that there are many effective ways of taking back our lives and recapturing our narrative.

The Destructive Nature of Addiction and Mental Health Issues

One crucial aspect to remember when we feel our story get away from us is that we are not alone. There is a concept that many individuals struggling with addiction and mental health issues often fall prey to, and that concept is known as “terminal uniqueness.” This is the idea that these issues can make us feel so alone that we start to believe that we are the only ones that have had these experiences. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “20.4 million people in the United States were diagnosed with SUD in the past year,” and those numbers don’t include individuals that were already diagnosed, as well as those that fell through the cracks. Also, according to National Institute on Mental Health (NIH),  “It is estimated that more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (57.8 million in 2021).” 

Yes, a serious addiction and mental health problem is going on right now, and it is impacting millions of lives on a daily basis. While the details of our stories are unique, the statistics of those affected are not. It is important to remember that we are not alone, but ultimately we must also remember that, with some help, we are responsible for redefining who we are.

How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative: How Personal Narrative Is Impacted by Addiction and Mental Illness

For those individuals struggling with mental illness and addiction, the question is most likely not “What parts of my life are negatively affected,” but rather “What parts of my life aren’t negatively affected?” Addiction and mental illness can negatively affect every aspect of our lives. This includes our relationships, our careers, our physical health, our mental well-being, and our psychological and spiritual soundness.

Essentially our entire narrative is taken over by these seemingly uncontrollable issues in our lives. We no longer become the narrator in our own lives; it is being ghostwritten by the very struggles that seek to destroy us. Addiction and mental illness can truly corrupt us down to our core root selves. 

However, that corruption need not cement itself as our new narrative moving forward. So, the question remains, “How do I redefine my narrative?” It must start down deep, at the cellular level.

The Importance of Creating a Positive Self-Narrative

The incredibly impactful author Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” This is what is robbed of us when active addiction and/or mental illness enter our lives. We lose any positive power we once had. To recover, we must regain that power.

It is not surprising and understandable that negative prose overtakes our narrative when we struggle with these types of issues. However, we must also understand that the only way to combat these issues is by reframing our personal stories in a positive light. Will this come naturally at first? Will this be a flawless process? Most likely not. These issues manifested over time, so they must be managed and mitigated over time as well. 

This will take personal effort. However, it will also take professional help. Working with professionals can make a rocky road to recovery significantly smoother. 

How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative: Can I Redefine My Self-Narrative on My Own?

There are many things in this world that we can tackle on our own. Many of us have achieved things in our lives that others may have thought impossible. Perhaps, we thought so at one point as well. However, many of us can also remember a time when seeking outside help or the advice of others was integral to our success. Sometimes we must rely on the expertise of others. When it comes to our mental health and wellness, this is one of those times.

There is a colloquial saying in 12-Step recovery that goes, “The mind is a dangerous place, never enter it alone.” While cheeky, there is some real wisdom in these words. Sometimes we need help dissecting and interpreting the story that is going on inside our heads. This is especially true when addiction and mental illness have taken over the telling of that story.

So, when asking, “Can I redefine my self-narrative on my own?” We should also ask, “Why do I need to do everything on my own when asking for help is an easier, softer way?” Also, the truth is that, of course, the work will have to happen individually. We must write our own story. However, professional guidance can help us ensure the desired direction of that story.

So, How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative?

The first step to redefining our self-narrative is acknowledging that there is a problem. Once this happens, then a new chapter can begin. The next step is reaching out for help in starting that chapter. This is crucial.

It is important to connect to the type of mental health professionals, addiction specialists, and recovery center that is going to recognize and work with you on an individualized basis. It is called “self-narrative,” not “group narrative,” so avoiding a one-note recovery plan is important.

It is important to decide the personal goals that we have in mind. Yes, we want to redefine our narrative, but how do we want that to look, how do we want to get there, and how do we want to utilize it moving forward? Cellular-level core root recovery is not done best via a singular solution. It is best accomplished through comprehensive care.

The Importance of Comprehensive Care for Continued Forward Momentum

What does comprehensive mental health and addiction care look like? Ultimately, it should look like options. For example, here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have countless different treatment modalities and recovery options which we can lean on and utilize. 

We focus on whole mind-body care. What this means is that we utilize all concepts and fields of treatment to ensure recovery. This includes experiential therapies such as art therapy. It includes holistic recovery options such as acupuncture and yoga. Also, quite crucially, it includes multiple forms of evidence-based therapies.

The Benefits of Evidence-Based Treatment Modalities

While “evidence-based” is not the only important adjective regarding treatment modalities, it most certainly is a big one. Evidence-based treatments have been shown to have the most quantifiable data on their efficacy. This is, of course, important because it offers a road map by which a recovery plan can follow.

“Evidence-based” treatments are also now commonly referred to as “traditional” mental health treatments. This is because many in the recovery field now feel comfortable utilizing them as standard foundations in their treatment planning. It is important to note the term “foundation” there as well because a strong evidence-based foundation is perfect for adding on other supplemental experiential and holistic methods.

Starting with evidence-based treatments is also a great way to mark progress because there is significant data to compare that progress to. Now, perhaps the most data-rich field of evidence-based treatments is that of psychotherapy.

Utilizing Psychotherapy to Get to the Underlying Core Root Causes of Addiction and Mental Health Struggles

Psychotherapy is a highly effective tool in getting to the core root causes of our addiction and mental health struggles. Getting to these underlying core issues is critical if they are going to be addressed and ultimately positively acted upon.

More often than not, when people envision therapy, they are most likely envisioning psychotherapy, which most often takes the form of “talk” therapy. The most common types of these talk therapies are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and its offshoot, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

According to Cognitive Therapy and Research, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) refers to a class of interventions that share the basic premise that mental disorders and psychological distress are maintained by cognitive factors. The core premise of this treatment approach… holds that maladaptive cognitions contribute to the maintenance of emotional distress and behavioral problems.” Another way of thinking of it is that our negative thinking causes our negative emotions and behaviors. Thus to rectify the latter, we must first address our negative thought processes. One of the best ways of doing this is by connecting to, addressing, and redefining our personal narrative.

How Do I Redefine My Self-Narrative: The Benefits of Narrative Therapy

Our narratives are more than how we tell our personal narrative to other people, but more importantly, how we tell our narrative to ourselves. There is another maxim that is often said in step-based recovery that goes “Would I ever talk to someone else the way I talk to myself?” Most likely, the answer is no.

This is where narrative therapy can be so highly beneficial. Working with a licensed narrative psychotherapist, we can first see how negatively we view ourselves. Then we can start to investigate why we view ourselves that way. Most importantly, we can then change that view. We can “redefine” how we view ourselves. 

For example, when asked to write how they view their current state of affairs, an individual struggling with active addiction may write, “I can’t get sober. I can’t stop hurting others. I can’t fix the things I’ve already done. There is no solution.” Through some investigative core work, narrative therapy can help to unearth where these negative cognitions arise and show that not only is this situation not their fault, but also they have the power to change.

The redefinition may look something like this, “I had a disease that stopped me from getting sober on my own. I hurt others because I didn’t understand the core issues that were hurting me. The past does not define my future. The solution is inside of me if I continue to work for it.” Once this positive change has occurred, then there are many other treatment options that can help positive change maintain forward momentum.

The Benefits of Experiential Therapy Options

Another highly beneficial treatment category is what is known as “experiential therapy.” While there is certainly a lot of complexity to these therapies, the name does embody what it is all about. Experiential therapies are about growing through “experiences.”

Now, these may be about reflecting on a specific experience or what an experience offers at the moment. Most likely, it will be a combination of both. For example, art therapy allows the individual an opportunity to express themselves through an art form. This may not only be cathartic but also surprising. Experiential therapy often produces representations of that which we are holding onto inside. Then this production can be used after the fact to discuss with a therapist what it might represent and what emotions it evokes.

Utilizing the Unmatched Magnificence of Hawaii for Healing at the Cellular Level

Another type of experiential therapy is known as nature immersion therapy. This is when the individual utilizes nature to reconnect to the natural world and, in turn, reconnect to themselves. Now, there may be no better place on Earth to experience nature immersion therapy than on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Nature immersion is about much more than “taking a walk in the woods.” Nature immersion allows an individual to take what they experience, discuss these experiences with a professional, and see how they can grow from them. They can utilize these experiences when they answer the question, “How do I redefine my self-narrative?”

Nature immersion therapy is not just passive, either. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, it is about engaging with the natural tropical beauty around us. For example, a mere 15-minute walk from our 30-acre luxury facility is located at a prize local surf break called Honoli’i. Here our clients can redefine their narrative by catching some of the most amazing waves in the world. Issues of addiction and mental illness often sold us the lie that we were unable to accomplish anything new. The experiences had at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab will prove that lie false and help to rewrite our personal narrative.

Taking Your Story Back: How Do I Continue to Redefine My Self-Narrative?

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we are not just about “in the moment” recovery. No, we are here to provide our clients with the tools they need to maintain a healthy and positive recovery for the rest of their lives. Recovery is not just about feeling good at the start of the journey; it is also about feeling good during the ride.

One of the tools that can greatly help us continue to redefine our self-narrative is journaling. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we utilize journaling as a ritualistic mindfulness technique that not only tells us where we have been and where we are, it tells us where we are going. Journaling helps us truly define what our goals are, and goal-setting can be an essential component of a successful long-term recovery plan.

Taking Your Life Back: Recovering at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

The treasured American poet Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we don’t see anyone as defined by their struggles or their diagnosis. No, we only see people that are taking the first step toward redefining themselves as who they truly want to be.

We help people take their life back at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. Then we help them take their life to the next level.

How you view yourself is crucial in how you make choices and behave in situations. If you don’t have a positive self-narrative, you may participate in negative things, like using substances to cope. However, healing begins at the core, and to get the growth, understanding, and success you’re looking for out of life, you need to work on improving core beliefs and personal narratives to improve natural responses. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab can help you redefine your self-narrative and help you bring new light, energy, and perspective into who you are. If you feel like you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues, we can help. For more information, contact Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.