While battling addiction, you may have crossed some corners, damaged some relationships, or stepped over boundaries in your pursuit of drugs. Today, you feel ashamed of the decisions you made. Consequently, you find that it’s harder to stay sober from drugs. You feel humiliated or distressed over your mistake, but you know a brighter future awaits you if you can forgive yourself. To succeed in your recovery, here are five steps to overcoming shame. Take these steps to avoid relapsing on substances.
Accept responsibility today
The humiliation you feel over your mistakes will keep you awake at night. Shame can present itself through intrusive thoughts you hear in the back of your mind. These are constant reminders that you’re no good or worthless, or that you’re a bad person and deserve to be alone. To stop these negative thinking patterns, accept responsibility by accepting that the decisions you made were wrong. Start by changing the way you talk to yourself. "Yes, this decision I made was wrong and these are the consequences of that decision. Now I can take these steps toward alleviating some of the suffering I caused." Of course, sometimes you won’t have the chance to eliminate all suffering, so you’re left to make better choices in the future. By responding to shame with acceptance and desire for action, you avoid having to feel like you have no control over your future.
Accept that you can’t change the past
It’s a good idea to try and alleviate any suffering you caused. However, understand you can’t alter the events that happened days, weeks, months, or years ago. There is a point where overcoming shame means pursuing a more respectable future. So, while you can’t always make up for past wrongs, you can find work to do that’s meaningful or support a cause that’s doing good in the world. Live in the present by taking in your current surroundings. What’s happening around you now takes precedent over events from the past.
Talking about your problems with a therapist is a great way to stay present and avoid living in the past. Most addiction counselors would recommend talking to a licensed therapist. Therapy is an excellent way to cope with, manage, and overcome maladaptive behaviors and unhelpful ways of thinking. Aside from traditional therapy, you might want to find a reliable person who won’t mind you venting from time to time. Often, aggressively letting go of the baggage in your life will reduce the negative feelings you’re dealing with.
Determine what you’ve learned about yourself
What does learning about yourself mean? Well, it’s a process where you analyze your strengths versus your weaknesses. Learning about yourself means you learn how and why you respond to conflict the way you do. When it comes to feeling ashamed, learning about yourself means you can better understand the choices you made in the past. So, while those choices may have been wrong, you can at least gain some perspective on why you made them. Often, gaining this self-awareness is a crucial step in managing the recovery phase. You start gaining self-awareness by asking "why" following the decisions you make, then studying your behavior and thoughts to have a complete understanding of both your character and personality. Recovery from addiction means knowing who you are, as well as what qualities define you as a person. You can only be successful in recovery when you fully understand both your motives and thoughts, as well as your ideas and interests.
Allow yourself to feel
As difficult as it is to live with shame, some negative feelings are worth experiencing. Much of your shame comes from a logical and rational analysis of your prior actions. The people you wronged. The way you may have taken advantage of others. It’s worth taking time to reflect on the severity of the life you’ve lived, as living with addiction often means hurting others to continue your use of drugs. The feelings you have, in addition to shame, might be disappointment and regret, or even embarrassment from the days you were under the influence and acting out. Feeling these emotions makes you vulnerable and stronger. Ultimately, you become an individual who’s acknowledged the consequences of addiction. The shame you feel doesn’t need to cripple you and prevent you from moving forward. But by working through shame, you’ll make living with other struggles in the future a less complicated challenge.
Change the way you think about your mistakes
Do you tend to think of your mistakes as the end of the world? While many mistakes of the past can have a serious impact on your future, you can overcome shame by thinking of them as opportunities. If, in the past, you used people for money, then maybe in the present you can focus on using the money you make for good in your community. If, in the past, you lied to your family, today, you can focus your thoughts on being transparent and honest with them. You can use your mistakes as motivation to do right. Of course, striving to make better choices will help you eliminate some of the shame you’re feeling. If not all at once, then at least long enough to stop dwelling on your mistakes. In doing so, you’ll soon rack up some wins and positive experiences that will further reduce the shame you feel, to the point that one day you can be free from that feeling completely.
Shame is a challenging emotion to cope with. But you can still learn to change how you think about mistakes, allowing you to feel and learn more about yourself over time. Recovery won’t be easy when you’re feeling ashamed, but fortunately, now you have the solutions to overcome this feeling. Want more recovery advice? Visit https://impactrecoverycenter.net/.