Developing awareness can be both challenging and rewarding.
It’s similar to learning how to ride a bike. While you’re learning, you might fall and crash from time to time. But once you’ve got it, you can feel that freedom and the joy of riding.
In the case of becoming more aware of yourself, it might be difficult when you’re faced with a new insight about yourself. But once you apply it in your life, and in turn, make new choices, you might feel the emotional and psychological freedom that comes with it.
For instance, one woman in recovery (let’s call her Joan) is always getting into arguments with her father. As part of her 12-step program, she had made amends with her parents, but without fail, upon each visit to her parent’s home, she and her father would fight. And meanwhile her mother came to expect the arguing.
One night Joan decided to do some journaling about her experience with her father. She had had enough of the arguing and wanted to understand them. She had discovered that journaling can bring her some unexpected insights. As she wrote, she realized that she always feels responsible for her father’s feelings. She uncovered her tendency to try to make her father feel better, and she recognized too that when she does that, he refuses to connect with her emotionally and often does something to reject her assistance. And this in turn, angered her and an argument usually ensued.
Joan was relieved to have these insights about herself and her father. But she wasn’t sure how her next visit was going to go now that she was aware of all this. However, she knew one thing: she wasn’t going to try to rescue her father emotionally. She was going to simply let him fend for himself.
On the next visit, Joan’s father was talking about a situation at work that made him feel disappointment in one of his coworkers. He said that he also felt angry about the fact that this coworker did not make the choice he would have made. Joan sat there and listened and didn’t say a word. She realized in that moment that her trying to rescue her father emotionally was her way of trying to connect with him. And because he often pushed her away emotionally, that made her feel not only angry but sad. In fact, it is this kind of connection that Joan has really wanted from him. But he’s been unable to give to her. Joan also made the connection that at times in the past, she has turned to drinking because she really wanted some kind of connection with others.
It turned out that Joan and her father didn’t have a fight that night. She chose not to follow the usual chain of events by staying quiet when he spoke about his feelings. She chose instead to stay connected to her own feelings. Joan was proud of what she had accomplished and began to wonder where else in her life does she try too hard to connect with others emotionally.
This is an example of why developing awareness is so important. Becoming more aware of yourself creates the ability to make new choices that are based on a healthier way of relating to yourself and others.
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Vantage Point Recovery is a lifestyle management and recovery center in Thousand Oaks. We share mental health tips and other helpful information on the Vantage Point Recovery Blog. If you need help or support mental health awareness, please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.