Stop trying to find yourself. Instead, ask yourself what makes you feel alive?
“Without work we will not eat, but without purpose we will not live.“
Almost every day, I meet people who feel as though they have lost themselves. They look in the mirror but who they see is a stranger. They ask, “Who am I?” Substance use, alcoholism, depression and anxiety, and trauma can make you lose touch with what it means to be alive, human. I say this all of the time, but recovery is not about the drugs… or the depression. Recovery takes root when you regain a sense of mattering. Recovery is not about the drugs or the depression – it is about what happens in the rest of your life, your relationships, where you feel alive.
When you get frostbite, it will take time before you feel your fingers again because they were almost frozen. Recovery is like getting a case of frostbite that freezes your soul. It can take a while before you feel alive again because your soul was frozen.
I find it ironic in Western society that we often encourage young adults to “find themselves.” After searching for a while, one of the lessons we learn is that we will never find ourselves by searching. Usually, we find ourselves when we forget ourselves…
I know, it makes sense, but then it doesn’t.
We find ourselves, our sense of mattering through many paths:
- Where does your love seem to naturally come out? Not just who you love, but where and in what situations do you feel free to love?
- Where do you come alive? What are you doing, who are you with? Where you come alive, you are fed and nourished. Playing guitar, talking to a friend, listening and supporting, writing or painting or dancing, giving and helping, fixing cars, learning about history… (the list is really endless).
- Where do you feel most at home? Where do you find it easiest to laugh? Where do you feel happy, even a little?
My mind chatters all of the time. Sometimes I am having a bad day and I get caught off guard. My mind can take me down the road when it tells me that I am insignificant. I am not very good or unique. My writing is just a drop in the bucket, not any different than a million other blogs out there.
No two voices are unique
But then I realized a few weeks ago that no two voices are alike. When a lead singer leaves a band or dies, it is difficult (and usually impossible) for the band to go on because their original, unique sound has faded. Can you imagine the Stones with out Jagger, U2 without Bono, or Mariah Carey without… Mariah Carey?
Just as a voice is unique, so is your ability to see the world, your experience, your way of loving and being alive. Your recovery is important because we need your voice. No one else is like you.
Finding our sense of mattering goes hand in hand with feeling truly human, truly alive. Recovery is about finding how to be truly alive again.
If you enjoy what I have to say, I welcome you to read some of my other work:
I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.
I hope to inspire you, to inform you and on occasion to entertain you. But most of all, I want to connect with you. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.
Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.
Keep it Real
Photo by Evan Guest