The Path to Forgiveness: Rethinking Guilt and Avoiding Shame

The Path to Forgiveness: Rethinking Guilt and Avoiding Shame

Forgiving one's self and overcoming guilt can be life-changing. For those in the Dallas area struggling with guilt and shame in the course of their addiction, forgiveness is critical to the long-term recovery process.

Admitting you have an addiction and going through the drug and alcohol addiction treatment process takes tremendous commitment. When you enter a reliable behavioral treatment program like at Carrollton Springs Hospital, you acquire a toolkit of strategies and techniques to help you in recovery. You learn about addiction, triggers, how to overcome cravings, and how to prevent relapse. None of this can happen, however, until you let go of your shame and embrace self-forgiveness.

Each person has a sense of what it means to forgive and be forgiven. Psychologists often define forgiveness as a deliberate and conscious decision to release feelings of resentment or anger towards a person or group of people who have caused harm. For those struggling with addiction, guilt and blame can be hard to manage. Especially the all-important act of forgiving yourself.

Self-forgiveness in recovery frequently involves some of the following:

  • Accepting that we are all human, and all make mistakes
  • Stop self-punishing, both physically and emotionally
  • Looking inward to find solace and spiritual strength
  • Recognizing that not forgiving will hinder your progress in recovery
  • Understanding that it is important to apologize, but not to expect forgiveness from others

Addiction frequently pushes us to do things we wouldn't normally do. When you're addicted to something, you push yourself to feed your addiction on a regular basis, perhaps even every day. You might even choose to ignore the methods that you use to get it or who you hurt in the process.

As a result of this obsession and compulsion, people dealing with addiction often do things that later cause guilt and shame. Even when they take the important decision to start the recovery process at a facility like Carrollton Springs, these feelings of guilt and shame inevitably return. They might find themselves flooded with memories of the mistakes they made, the people they hurt, and all the things they wish they could undo.

If you or someone in your life is dealing with guilt, shame, and remorse in the course of recovery, keep in mind that you are not alone. Everyone has done something in their lives that they have later regretted. Most people have said something hurtful or done something selfish that caused another person pain. Everyone, not only those dealing with addiction, could benefit from learning to let go of feelings of guilt and shame.

What is the best way for those dealing with addiction to achieve self-forgiveness?

While most religions hold forgiveness in high regard—some even require it as a means to achieving a state of grace or salvation—forgiveness in the context of recovery is really a state of mind. It doesn't matter if you are a religious person or not—being able to forgive is a mindset that anyone can achieve, but it does take patience and practice.

Just like recovery, there are various stages of forgiveness. These vary by individual and might be determined by how far along you are in your recovery. But no matter where you are on your road to sobriety, keep in mind that you cannot make sustainable progress if you don't develop your powers of forgiveness.

How do you do learn to forgive? Here are some tips that may help:

Let go: Resentment is the accumulation of the real or imagined wrongs we all carry around with us. But remember, resentment just doesn't accrue any benefits. Letting go of the accumulated resentments and removing the guilt you feel as a result of all those negative actions will lift your spirits and pave the way for you to progress faster in your recovery.

Reflect: Everyone can benefit from introspection. Looking back at actions you deemed unfair or wrong may lead you to re-evaluate your emotions and actions. This might help you to stop harboring resentment and let go of feelings of guilt and shame.

Once it's done, it's over: Once you've lightened the load by asking for or giving forgiveness, you don't ever need to revisit it again. Forgiveness results in a clean slate.

Take time to pray: Spiritually speaking, many experts say that prayer helps us achieve forgiveness better than other methods. Some suggest beginning and ending every day with a simple request that you forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness for any self-destructive actions that you have ever done, deliberately or inadvertently. Accept that you are you are not perfect, but make a strong assertion that you will live each day to the best of your ability. In this way, you will truly begin to realize the power of forgiveness in your recovery.

Expand your definition of prayer: You don't have to be a religious person to utilize prayer to aid your recovery. Some people use meditation or self-reflection, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or just trying to completely still the mind in order to look inward and seek spiritual strength. Whatever works for you, use it. If any practice helps you to lighten your burden and achieve the peaceful state of mind that forgiveness brings, it's a useful technique.

Move forward: Having lightened the burden of guilt and shame and embraced the path to self-forgiveness, you can now attend to your future goals with renewed positivity. When you are not emotionally tied up in knots, your mind is clear and you are free to engage in healthy, enjoyable pursuits.

Start this journey at a reliable facility like Carrollton Springs, committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals seeking sobriety by combining faith-based offerings with evidence-based treatment plans. To realize your full potential on the path to wellness, it's critical that you choose a facility for drug and alcohol addiction treatment that takes an integrated approach to mental health and addiction issues, supervised by medical practitioners and qualified therapists. As you make progress in your treatment, you will be able to make the most of a holistic and sustainable approach to recovery.

With every passing day, you'll get closer to realizing an abundance of opportunity. Moving past shame opens up new opportunities, new victories, new relationships, new things to learn, and the promise of self-fulfillment.

Your new life awaits at Carrollton Springs. Call today to begin your road to sobriety.