A Double Whammy: Carrying the Guilt and Shame of Your Past

A Double Whammy: Carrying the Guilt and Shame of Your Past

The Weight of Your Past Life

Gut-wrenching guilt and shame over your past, can carry with you and seriously jeopardize your chances at recovery. When you experience recurring cravings and urges to use again, you’re definitely more likely to be hit with a double whammy. The truth is that we all carry with us memories of what we’ve said and done. It would be impossible not to have them and, quite frankly, our lives wouldn’t have as much meaning if we didn’t keep some memories fresh in our brains. But when we constantly overthink all the things that we’ve said and done that have harmed others to the point where we are paralyzed and incapable of doing the work of recovery, our horizons are limited and we’re not likely to make much, if any, progress in recovery.

There’s no way that we can be proactive if we remain stuck in the past. And the past is what fuels the guilt and shame that we currently feel. Think about it. You get up in the morning and the first think that enters your head is how worthless you feel and that there’s nothing good that could possibly come from anything you do. You feel this way because of the burden of guilt and shame that you wrestle with every day. Until you learn how to overcome these tremendously self-destructive emotions, you’ll have a continuing uphill battle in recovery.

The Guilt and Shame you feel is old news

All you need to do is look in the mirror and you can likely see the guilt and shame have created. Your very image is a reminder of the terrible person you now believe yourself to be. If we believe that we are bad or that we are so guilty of wrongdoings because of our addiction, we often engage in a never-ending self-punishment.

We belittle ourselves because we believe that we deserve to be punished for what we said and did. Some of us may even consider ourselves sinners in the truest sense. But having sinned, or committed wrongdoings against others that have done them harm, doesn’t mean that we are sentenced to a lifetime of pain and suffering. It doesn’t mean that we should continue to punish ourselves or feel like we don’t deserve happiness or even a chance to work to better our way of life. The longer you carry the oppressive burden of guilt and shame, the worse you feel about yourself and your chances to make a change in your life.

Carried to extremes, a continuing emphasis on how terrible you’ve been and all the damage you’ve done to others will eat away at you to the point where you may not see any way out. This gets worse when you begin shutting yourself off from family and friends.

It’s time to look at what you can do to start turning your life around. The key is that you need to take small steps, manageable ones, and you might as well begin today. This all begins with a suspension of disbelief. Very simply, what you need to do right now is put a stop to your thoughts that you aren’t worth saving, or that you cannot possibly heal.

Just tell yourself that you will, for just today, think that you are worth it, that you do deserve a chance to make your life better. Just today, let’s just start with that. Of course, there’s a lot more to getting past guilt and shame than telling yourself that you deserve the chance to do so, but this is a necessary first step. You have to allow yourself permission to heal before you can actually begin to heal.


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