When you are willing to leave shame behind, you have finally gotten off the wrong bus at the right time. Those wheels that turn in your head day in and out can be wearing on your nerves and psyche. Putting shame on yourself for what happened in the past or may happen in the future is draining and unproductive. Here are some better ways to let shame know it does not get the last word in recovery.
Why Shame is Toxic
Harboring shame keeps you stuck in a cycle of self-victimization and using substances to cover up the pain. One of the most difficult parts of starting life in recovery is facing mistakes you’ve made and hurt caused when using drugs or alcohol. Full understanding of the past is key but it also leaves people in recovery with a sense of shame. Shame, if left unaddressed, haunts us the rest of our lives.
Letting Go of Shame
Learning to let go of shame is an instrumental step of recovery. Holding on undermines the love of yourself needed to do the hard work of living sober. Shame tricks us into believing things will never change. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt says ‘i did something bad,’ shame says ‘i am bad.’ When a person holds onto shame and the belief they themselves are bad, they are not able to separate themselves from their disease of substance use disorder. Making bad decisions traps people in a vicious cycle with no hope in sight. Unaddressed shame keeps people from getting sober and traps them in their illness from moving forward. The key to removing shame is to understand and address underlying causes that lead to substance use in the first place.
The first thing to consider letting go of around shame is to find where forgiveness lies within yourself. You may want to forgive yourself, but others who wronged you deserve forgiveness also. If a person holds onto shame, then they have to figure out a way to forgive and let go. It is a difficult step for many people, especially if shame has been passed down from generation to generation. A person needs to find enough self love to stop owning the shame and love the other person enough who harmed them to forgive their trespasses, as well. Forgiveness means accepting past behavior was a mistake, not something that demonstrates who you are as a person. Who you are can change, and is, as a result of recovery.
The key is to quit focusing so much on forgetting what has happened. You might feel hopeless right now but you are not hopeless forever and ever. Pick up the phone and speak to someone. Call another friend and ask how they are doing if you’re worried they’re feeling low. Seek professional help and don’t let it get the best of you.
Shame can be toxic in recovery. It does not have to have the last word in your sobriety. If you are worried about how you are doing in recovery or need help with addiction, call Sound Recovery. We are here to help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.