One of the primary effects of being under the influence of alcohol and many types of drugs is a decreasing awareness of the outside world.
Other people seem to disappear in a intoxicated fog, and the user may not even be fully aware of how his or her actions are influencing others.
Thus, when substance abuse becomes addictive and habitual, it can often result in a life of self-obsession. An addict becomes focused on nothing but finding a "fix" and maintaining a high, loosing awareness of other people.
Thus, one important aspect of the recovery process is learning to move beyond self-obsession, and recognize both each person's dependence on a group of people, and the ways his or her actions affect others in that group.
From Selfishness to Real Self-Care
Learning how to let go of self-obsession does not mean making yourself disappear or ignoring your own needs. On the contrary, the process of sobriety demands that you learn to recognize what your own body, mind, and soul really needs.
You can't take care of anyone else until you first take care of yourself. Healthy self-care is rooted in awareness of what you need to truly thrive in your environment.
But you do not stop at taking care of yourself, but learn how to also make a positive contribution in the lives of others, a new world will open up, as you let go of your self-focus, and find new ways to give time and work to the world around you.
Even when the behavior of substance abuse itself stops, patterns of self-obsession may take longer to unlearn. It may be easy to think everyone in a support group is thinking about you, and you may unintentionally place heavy burdens on others in your quest for recovery.
Thus, gradually, and with patience and grace, a person in the process of recovery should become aware that not everything is about him or her. One important way to take our minds off our own inner turmoil is to help, listen to, or meet the needs of someone else.
Doing good for others gives a purpose in life, that can in turn be a part of your own healing. Find small ways, like listening to another problems, offering rides, and spending time with the lonely, treating others as you would want to be treated, to contribute kindness to the rest of the world.
Relationships are Essential
Recovery is not a process you can make by yourself, but one that requires the support of friends, family, a therapist, or a small group who are able to listen to you and support you. But this does not mean that these relationships exist to serve and help you exclusively.
Real relationships are built on mutuality and reciprocity, so that you are able to give back the support that has been given to you. This means loving, sharing, earning the trust of other people in your community. By becoming a real part of a community, you are finding a new purpose, able to lead a full life that would be impossible if you remained imprisoned in an addictive behavior.
The story of your addiction and recovery can become a tool to help someone else facing similar issues. One important skill is to learning to apologizing for times you hurt others, and communicate clearly to others how they may hurt you, building real, lasting relationships.
Addiction often results in a lot of damaged bridges between others. Exploring ways to restore those bridges is an important aspect of getting your life back.