Imagine your identity as a pizza pie 🍕. The slices are what make you a full-fledged, complex, and unique human-being: your beliefs, relationships, knowledge, lived experiences, and characteristics. And your toppings are your habits that bind the slices together.
If you’re confronted with a loss of sense-of-self while navigating the early days of moderation or sobriety, ask yourself this: is this a slice issue or a topping issue? It can be challenging to differentiate what we do from who we are, but it’s an important distinction to make to gain a stronger grasp on our identity.
Distinguishing Character vs. Habits
‘What we do’ is ever-changing. Our habits can feel defining at times, but they can evolve and adapt to align with what makes you, you. When we match our habits and practices to our character, we can achieve more harmony and a stronger sense of self. That’s a big part of this journey. Changing your behaviors to match your character, and becoming the best version of you.
Even if this concept makes sense, it can be hard to conceptualize our character and identity. What would you say if you were asked to finish the sentence “I am a…?” Chances are you would identify your roles, your appearance, your affiliations, or your job titles. These just skim the surface of you.
A deep dive into self-exploration will come with its own set of challenges. Some may call it an identity crisis. Deep breath. I know the idea of an ‘identity crisis’ sounds terrifying, so I’ve laid out two techniques you can use to reclaim your sense of self and help define your character as you navigate this new chapter.
Cognitive Reframing & Re-Attribution (Excuse me, what?)
Let’s break this one down. Cognitive reframing means changing the way we view situations, experiences, events, ideas, and emotions. This practice can help us ‘take back’ the things we used to associate with drinking.
Then comes the “Reattribution” part. Reattribution is a fancy therapy word for finding new explanations for why things happen and challenging some of our deeply ingrained ideas by considering alternatives.
Let’s use an example.
Say, for example, you associate socializing with drinking, so your instinct is to believe that your new sobriety means you can’t be social anymore. Suppose you take a look at the other moments, memories, and experiences in life that are both social and sober. Think about how you can integrate these experiences into your new life without alcohol. Re-associate what socializing means to you, because it doesn’t have to mean drinking. It can mean intimate conversations with friends, clarity in relationships, high-energy, clear-headed parties, and more.