The Dutch star was told he could leave last summer, but was given a reprieve when compatriots Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder departed instead.
Injury hampered Van der Vaart's ability to shine in the opening months of the season, although he has been pleased with his progress to date after getting over the summer stress.
The former Ajax ace is keen to play as much as he can under coach Manuel Pellegrini and prove that he can become an important member of Real's team.
"I wasn't fit [early in the campaign] and there was a lot going on in my head. I didn't do well in training," he told the club's official website.
Prove a point"Now I am very happy and I want to prove I can be important for the team and the coach has allowed me to play several minutes in the last few games.
"I have to take advantage of every chance I get to prove I can play here. I know it's hard, but I want to fight for Real Madrid and become important on the team."
Van der Vaart was criticised for some of his displays last term, but he accepts that it is part and parcel of the game and wants to show the cynics they were wrong.
"I think it's normal for journalists to criticise us when we don't play well," he continued. "Nevertheless, I don't believe a bad season proves a player isn't good for it."