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One of our most persistent emotions when struggling with addiction is the disappointment we feel in ourselves. We’ve relapsed after working so hard to get sober. We’ve let down our friends and family. We’ve hurt the people we care about, we might be having a hard time making amends, and we’ve accumulated a long list of regrets. We feel embarrassed and ashamed of ourselves. Every time we feel disappointed in ourselves, our energy is not one of positivity and optimism, it’s one of regret. We’re not looking forward, we’re dwelling on the past. How can we stop feeling so disappointed in ourselves?

Disappointment, like regret, is a wasteful emotion in that it doesn’t actually serve us, it doesn’t help us to accomplish anything, and it wastes precious time and energy we could be using more productively. We could be focused on the solution, but staying in our disappointment keeps us locked in on the problem. It’s normal to feel disappointment. Just as with any challenging emotion, we don’t want to avoid it or tell ourselves not to feel it. We want to explore it and learn from it, but we don’t want to persecute ourselves with it. We don’t want to stay stuck in it. We don’t want to keep beating ourselves up for it. We want to be able to move forward from it and use it to help ourselves grow.

What caused you to feel disappointed in yourself? What did you say or do that you’re feeling bad about? What parts of yourself is this issue bringing up for you? In other words, what aspects of who you are is this disappointment triggering, and what does it represent for you? What is your disappointment trying to tell you, about yourself, your needs, your recovery, and your life? Oftentimes when we’re disappointed in ourselves, we’re hesitant to really explore what it is we’ve experienced, because it can be emotionally taxing and draining to get into. Similarly, we don’t want to look at ourselves honestly and openly. We’re afraid to be transparent and forthcoming with ourselves. We’re afraid to feel the sting of our disappointment, so we try to avoid even thinking about it.

 In order to move through our disappointment effectively and actually heal from it, we have to be able to process it so that we can learn from it. Once we’ve really examined how we’re feeling, we can apply the lessons learned to our future experiences and commit to not making the same mistakes again. Without this process, we’ll only continue to dwell in the disappointment and apply our energy in that direction, increasing the likelihood that we’ll stay trapped in the same cycles, continuing to make the same mistakes and repeatedly disappointing ourselves. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.