Tips for Coping with Guilt and Shame in Recovery

Tips for Coping with Guilt and Shame in Recovery

Guilt and shame are some of the biggest obstacles in addiction recovery. Learning to cope with these feelings is an integral part of the healing process. Guilt is based on a failure of doing. It’s contingent on our values, morals, and standards. When we violate these standards, guilt can drive us to change. It can also hold back change.

Many addicts start feeling more and more guilty as they reach the late stages of recovery. As mental clarity returns, the reality of the mistakes you’ve made become clear. Knowing all the struggles your family and friends went through to get you into treatment can cause addicts to feel a lot of shame. They don’t want you to feel shame; they want to feel better. The following are some tips for avoiding crippling shame during recovery.

Face the guilt

Face your feelings of guilt head-on. Release them by talking about them, sharing them, confessing them, and being honest.

Learn to forgive yourself

Do you judge yourself severely and berate the mistakes you’ve made? You might just be judging yourself too harshly. When you’re addicted, you’re not exactly yourself. You’re better now; that’s all that matters.

Examine the roots of your guilt

There’s no good reason to feel guilty if the situation is out of your control. Are your reasons for feeling guilty rational and reasonable?

Change your actions

Again, guilt isn’t always unreasonable. If your source of guilt is something truly unhealthy or unproductive—like drug use—then make some efforts to stop.

Clarify your feelings

Clarify new values for yourself; act on them instead of dwelling on the past. Put your energy into what you can change. You’re never too old to change your future; you’re always too old to change your past.

Practice empathy

Lend a hand here and there. Learn to empathize and forgive others, and you’ll learn to do the same for yourself. Take charge in your community by involving yourself with a group or organization that speaks to you.

Apologize and make peace

Have you tried apologizing to that person? It might be uncomfortable, or even scary, but the apology can go a long way and give you a lot of relief.

Deconstruct your guilt

You can’t forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made if you can’t clearly define them. Analyzing your mistakes individually is the key to feeling better. Saying hurtful things to people is never okay, but yelling at someone because you were feeling jealous, betrayed, rejected, or insulted–that’s understandable.

For insights and advice on getting through recovery and processing the emotions that come with it, contact the counselors at Blueprints for Recovery today. (888) 744-9969


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