How To Rebuild Your Sense of Self During Recovery

At Maui Recovery, we honor and respect everyone’s unique journey. Knowing that recovery continues long after clients have left our doors, we strive to provide them with the tools needed to find true purpose and help their true selves flourish.

Closeup of a woman holding her chest while breathing for calm, peace and zen mindset for meditation

Walking the path of recovery always entails profound transformation. From the moment you embark on your quest for sobriety, you’ve committed to confronting your shadow and discovering who you truly are. 

This is far from easy (what true adventure is?) but the rewards are worth more than all the riches in the world. 

One day, you’ll look back at the addict you thought you were and won’t even recognize them. You’ll then see that idea of yourself for what it really is: an illusion conjured by trauma, pain, and desperation for relief. 

At Maui Recovery, we honor and respect everyone’s unique journey. Knowing that recovery continues long after clients have left our doors, we strive to provide them with the tools needed to find true purpose and help their true selves flourish. Of course, evidenced-based treatments are often essential, but so is laying a strong foundation to support lasting sobriety. 

Rebuilding a sense of self isn’t necessarily about finding something new; it is about rediscovery. Despite how it may seem, you’ve always been a divine spark of boundless potential—and a deep, incorruptible part of you has always known this. 

Ultimately, recovery is the act of cleaning the mirror muddied by addiction to reveal your true self. Let us help you get that mirror sparkling!

What do we mean by “the self”?

“The self is the whole range of possibilities that you’ve never even thought of. And you’re stuck with your past when you’re stuck with the ego.”

Joseph Campbell

Since the dawn of civilization, “the self” has been the subject of much debate and interpretation. After all, the concept is abstract and has no clear boundaries. However, the truth of it cannot be denied – its meaning resonates with us as if it were a cold hard fact.  

At Maui Recovery, we integrate the ideas of renowned mythologist, Joseph Campbell into our approach. His perspective on the self is intertwined with the idea of the hero’s journey and the continuous quest for self-discovery and self-actualization. 

For Campbell, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic, evolving construct that encompasses both the individual and the universal. In other words, the true self contains the awareness of your interconnectedness with the cosmos. This transcends the ego and the superficial identities formed by societal, cultural, and personal factors. 

Unlike conditioned preconceptions subject to change, your true self is whole, unfragmented, and in harmony with the universe. 

Therefore, as you navigate the varied terrain of recovery, begin to view yourself as the hero in your own story. Rather than something broken that needs to be fixed, you are a brave adventurer on an expedition toward rediscovering your authentic self.

Internal validation vs. external validation

How do you feel when someone gives you praise or approval? Perhaps it’s like a warm, comforting embrace, momentarily lifting your spirits. Yet drawing most of your self-validation from external sources is like building a house on shifting sands – unpredictable and unreliable. 

The issue is external validation is rooted outside your control, and leaves you vulnerable – it hinges on the changing tides of others’ perceptions, opinions, and feelings. 

Persistent pursuit of external validation often perpetuates a cycle of dependency and anxiety, leaving your sense of self fragmented and ungrounded. 

Conversely, internal validation emanates from your core. It’s the affirmation and recognition you give yourself, untouched by external judgments. 

Many who suffer from addiction draw their sense of validation from external sources. Sometimes, the impact of their condition drives people away, leading to ostracism and isolation. Oftentimes, they haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to access validation from within. What’s more, their guilt, shame, and anxiety can hamper any attempts to do so.    

This is why transitioning from external to internal validation is pivotal in rebuilding your sense of self during recovery. 

By nurturing this inner approval, you’re laying down sturdy bricks of self-awareness, self-love, and self-acceptance. In time, your internal fortress of validation can provide you with newfound confidence and self-esteem.

Changing a fixed mindset to a growth mindset 

Home meditation, zen and senior man work on inner spiritual peace

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Winston Churchill

How do you view yourself and your capabilities? If you believe your abilities, potential, and intelligence are set in stone, you’re laboring under a fixed mindset. Suffering from a crippling fear of failure, you may tend to avoid challenges, or be reluctant to step out of your comfort zone. Thinking that your abilities have a limit, you might believe there’s little you can do to change them.

Of course, none of this is true.

A growth mindset enables you to see failures not as a reflection of your worth or capabilities, but as opportunities for growth and learning. Over time spent in mindful practice, you’ll soon see that your talents and abilities can be developed through effort, learning, and perseverance. 

A growth mindset encourages you to embrace new experiences, learn from criticism, and find inspiration in others’ success.

Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset examples

Fixed mindsetGrowth mindset
I’m unchangeable, that’s just my nature.I am continuously growing and evolving.
The fact I have to work hard means I lack the ability.The more I push myself, the better I become.
I’ll always be an addict. This is who I am. While addiction will always be a part of my story, I am so much more.
By avoiding trying, I avoid failure. Failure is an intrinsic part of self-growth. I only truly fail when I stop trying.
That job is completely out of my league. There’s no point in even applying.That job looks like an exciting challenge! I’ll apply for it.

For those in recovery, transitioning from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is essential. 

The former entangles you in feelings of inadequacy, and a fear of making mistakes, making it harder for you to break unhealthy patterns. Furthermore, it can amplify your feelings of shame or unworthiness, blocking your progress and efforts to build a healthy sense of self. 

Conversely, through treatment and being mindful of your thoughts, a growth mindset will open up a whole new world of possibilities to you.  

Tips for rebuilding your sense of self during recovery

Every person is unique, meaning that there are no hard and fast rules for rebuilding your sense of self. Consequently, it’s better to figure out what works for you (even if that takes time) than it is to blindly follow others’ advice. As we said before, this process is all about self-discovery. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss!”

Below are some tips to help get you started.

Practice constant reflection

Primarily, recovery is an inward journey. The right guidance is key, but breaking old thought patterns and behaviors requires continuous self-examination. This will enable you to rediscover the core values, beliefs, and dreams formerly obscured by addiction. 

Remember, this is your journey. Only you can illuminate the path to enhanced self-understanding and inner peace. Below are several practices that can aid your self-reflection:


An ancient and now evidence-based practice, mindfulness facilitates your return to the present moment, nurturing a compassionate connection with your inner self. It encompasses methods like yoga and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). 

Mindfulness allows you to objectively observe your thoughts and emotions, fostering self-awareness and laying a robust foundation for strengthening your true self during recovery.


The practice of journaling provides a safe haven for expressing and navigating your thoughts and emotions. Shown to help aid the recovery process, it can be incredibly cathartic and help unveil hidden emotions and patterns. Regular journaling can contribute to revealing hidden insights and developing a deeper understanding of your inner self. 

Creative expression

art therapy

Delving into art, writing, music, or dance can help unearth hidden aspects of yourself that have been buried under addiction. These avenues are more than just hobbies; they are powerful pathways for self-discovery and self-expression. 

Engaging in these creative activities provides an opportunity to release emotions, express your innermost thoughts and feelings, and reflect on your personal experiences and aspirations. The creative process can feel almost mystical, offering a sense of peace, connection, and clarity that is utterly unique.

Reconnect with passions and hobbies

During recovery, you may benefit from revisiting activities or hobbies you formerly enjoyed. In the throes of addiction, you may have had less inclination to engage in such pursuits, or thought they no longer fulfilled you.

Now, unshackled from old ideas about yourself, your love for them could be rekindled. Whether it’s painting, hiking, reading, or any other activity, allow yourself to become immersed in the joy and satisfaction it brings. These moments of engagement aren’t merely pastimes, but bridges to your inner self; the pathways that lead you back to the essence of who you truly are.

Set realistic goals

How do you eat an elephant? One chunk at a time! In the same vein, rebuilding your sense of self during recovery involves methodically working towards attainable goals. If you feel overwhelmed by big dreams, break down your larger objectives into manageable pieces and tackle them one by one. 

With each achievement, no matter how small, make it a practice to celebrate. Even little victories are huge steps towards boosting your self-confidence and reaffirming your self-worth. 

Find the therapies that work best for you

Individual or group therapy can help you delve into personal issues and uncover the roots of your addiction. However, if you don’t connect with your therapist, or don’t resonate with a particular modality, don’t give up! Today, there are myriad different therapies available, and one could be invaluable for your healing journey.

The therapeutic journey doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end with rehab. It’s a valuable resource in reinforcing your recovery and reestablishing your sense of self. Below are some effective forms of therapy that can help you rebuild your sense of self during recovery:

group therapy coach - Maui Recovery

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

One of the most effective treatments for addiction, CBT aids in recognizing triggers and reframing negative thought patterns. CBT helps you interrogate false beliefs about yourself, laying the groundwork for enhanced self-awareness and a renewed self-concept. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Emphasizing the enhancement of emotional regulation, DBT can help you with the improvement of interpersonal relationships, and the cultivation of mindfulness. These vital components work cohesively to reshape your self-identity, reinforcing your ongoing path in self-discovery.

Motivational Interviewing 

At Maui Recovery, we’ve employed this therapeutic approach with great success. Involving a trusted partnership between you and the clinician, we meet you where you are, gently addressing your uncertainties about change. The personalized, collaborative nature of Motivational Interviewing empowers you to explore and define your goals, paving the way for meaningful and lasting growth in your recovery journey.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a safe, supportive community setting where you can learn from those on similar journeys. This mutual experience enables you to openly share, listen, and exchange invaluable insights and experiences. The wisdom, camaraderie, and life-long friendships formed can provide a solid foundation for rebuilding your sense of self.

Remember that recovery is a life-long process

In most cases, it isn’t quitting the substance or addictive behavior that proves the most challenging, but rebuilding your life after the veils of addiction have been lifted. 

Recovery doesn’t stop after detox, treatment, or rehabilitation. Neither is it a purely solo endeavor, separated from other aspects of life like your profession, relationships, and purpose. Recovery is woven throughout your entire being. 

It requires life-long commitment, vigilance, and determination. Never get it twisted: to walk the path of recovery is a heroic undertaking. Slip-ups can happen but don’t be dismayed and succumb to feelings of failure. You are not alone. According to The National Institute of Drug Abuse, the relapse rate for those suffering from addiction is 40%-60%. 

You may encounter or know people who don’t understand the roots of your affliction or haven’t experienced addiction themselves. Some of them may judge your failures or dismiss your achievements. Ignore them. You are the hero of your story, and heroes must surround themselves with those who understand and support their quest!

How Maui Recovery can help

At Maui Recovery, we’re constantly refining our understanding of the intricacies of recovery. The result is a holistic approach that emphasizes the profound role of self-discovery, nurturing each person’s unique identity and sense of purpose.

By seamlessly integrating evidence-based therapies like CBT with experiential treatments such as Nature Immersion, we tailor highly personalized treatment plans for each individual. This dual approach aims not only to heal but also to facilitate a robust reconnection with one’s self. It helps you plant the seeds for sustainable self-love, self-awareness, and lasting resilience.

In addition to our unique, tailored recovery plans, we continually strive to empower others about their role in the overall healing process. Our passionate team considers each resident as a part of their ohana (family). All who stay with us leave with a rejuvenated sense of self and a diverse arsenal of tools for sustainable recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to treatment, or how we can help you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you.

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If you’re struggling with an addiction, or know a friend or family member who is, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here for you.

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