When we make mistakes or feel we’ve let ourselves or others down, our instinct is usually to react with harshness – judgment, criticism, self-blame, self-deprecation. We berate and belittle ourselves. We put ourselves down. We call ourselves a failure. We tell ourselves we’re stupid, weak, not in control. We guilt trip ourselves, exacerbating our already low self-perception with more guilt and shame. We make ourselves feel exponentially worse about ourselves. Aside from not causing ourselves more mental and emotional pain, why else should we stop guilt tripping ourselves?
For many of us struggling with addiction, attacks on our character such as guilt trips make us feel so low and so down on ourselves that we find ourselves increasingly tempted to turn to our drugs of choice for solace. We want to escape the harsh ways in which we’re treating ourselves, speaking to ourselves and thinking about ourselves. We want to zone out and forget whatever it is we feel so guilty about. It might serve us better to view our mistakes as spiritual tests and lessons we’re meant to learn, rather than moral failings and evidence of how messed up we are. When we do make a mistake, even one we feel really guilty and ashamed about, it can help us even more to stop making that same mistake to figure out why we’ve done what we’ve done, what drove us, what thoughts and feelings were motivating us, what pain we were acting from. When we guilt trip ourselves, we push ourselves back to our drugs of choice, not to higher learning, expansion and self-discovery.
Guilt acts as a major block to our growth. It essentially shuts down the learning and growth process, not only by making us feel worse about ourselves but by preventing us from looking at ourselves honestly and openly. In order to be able to do that, and to learn more about ourselves and our behaviors and choices, we want to be able to feel comfortable with ourselves. Guilt makes us feel the opposite. It makes us feel insecure, stressed out and uncomfortable. It makes us feel angry with ourselves. It can make us self-hating and self-rejecting.
Let’s try and replace our guilt trips with concentrated intention to learn the lessons we need to learn in order to stop making the mistakes we feel so guilty about. Let’s give ourselves compassion and forgiveness so that we can feel motivated and inspired to do better, rather than beating ourselves up, which causes us to shut down and want to escape ourselves and abandon our healing journey altogether.
Your new life starts today. Let Riverside Recovery be your support system as you do the work to heal. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our addiction recovery treatment programs.