wellness

5 Tips to Ditch the Shame Game in Recovery.

 

Feeling ashamed of a negative behavior is a rather common thing. But the same feeling can push us into an abyss when we don’t know how to control it.

With an addiction, shame and guilt are inherent elements that though natural, when unattended, can induce a relapse or to some extent enable further addictive behaviors. There are many ways in which what’s known as the shame-blame game can be ditched for good in order to ensure a successful recovery in the future.

Most of these require understanding, forgiveness and love not only from ourselves towards ourselves, but from those around us when we’re the ones dealing with such problems. Here are five tips to leave behind the shaming and the blaming:

1. Honesty is the best policy

Being able to speak out when dealing with problems is a virtue not everybody has. When we face situations where we’re in the wrong, it takes courage to come forward and accept what we’ve done. In an addictive behavior, being honest is still in some circumstances seen as a taboo, because a big part of society still blames the addict for his/her own suffering.

Speaking up when dealing with an addiction can be more embarrassing and hurtful because some still believe the addict always has the choice of leaving the substances aside. Being able to open our hearts and minds while in recovery decreases the chances of relapsing, and helps our loved ones understand better what we’re going through instead of blaming each other or burying ourselves in guilt.

2. Understanding is the key

Both sides of the situation need to understand that addiction is not a morally flawed choice or something that can be blamed on the addict or the people around them. Until we finally get the fact that pointing fingers is of literally no help, and that it is an illness and should be treated like one, nobody is going to be making any progress anytime soon.

Unfortunately for many, it is always easier to judge based on fear, suffering or rage, and that can get even worse with time because it enables the guilt and shame to dig a deeper hole in our minds. As a consequence, the chances of relapsing dramatically increase.

3. Turn the page

Constantly thinking of our past won’t let us move forward. Therefore it’s true that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. We should never dwell in what cannot be changed, and concentrate on what we can.

While addicted, our mindset is rather fragile, and prompts us to feel shame and guilt for everything we’ve done. The only way out of it is by making amends with ourselves, our past, and everyone involved in our lives. Only then will we be able to move forward and forgive ourselves.

4. Avoid isolation

Being isolated for a long time has very negative effects on everyone, not only an addict. Social contact and interaction help guide our thoughts towards better things and focus on what really matters. Being alone leaves room for our minds to play games on us, bringing up hurtful memories or making us feel anxious, which ultimately can open the door to temptation and opportunities for relapsing.

Abusing substances in an addictive behavior always has the shame and guilt at the end of the cycle. An overwhelming feeling can take over our senses, and the anxiety to avoid all negative feelings is what ignites the cycle of addiction again.

5. Acknowledge what’s good in your life

Accepting that despite what we’re going through, there are still good things in life, is an excellent way to keep ourselves walking out of the shadows. Recognizing which of those things are happening because of us is even better.

Finding light in the darkness can be very challenging, especially when dealing with a mental illness. For that reason, it’s widely encouraged for ourselves and our loved ones not only to get involved in activities with a positive outcome, but also to acknowledge when goals are reached and results are in sight.

Taking in a new hobby, hanging out with sober friends, or practicing a new sport, are some of the items that help our brain break the cycle of negative thoughts that lead to guilt and shame. Most of us know how easy it is to point out a flaw, or call out on a mistake, but not everyone has the same ease to point out what’s good or how proud we are of each other even if it’s for what looks like something little.

Any acknowledgement of something positive stimulates our brains and leads us away from negative emotions that are only holding us back.

Living with an addiction is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. It is an illness, and should be treated like one. Understanding this key element will ensure a successful recovery and a strengthening of our relationships and bonds with those we love.

There is no use in blaming ourselves or others for our problems, and there is certainly no use in constantly telling ourselves how many times we’ve made the same mistake. To be able to move forward, we must forgive and forget. Not only those around us, but ourselves. Turn the page and move forward. You’re not alone.

If you have any questions or would simply like to share other tips on how to ditch the shame game in recovery, let us know in the comments below.

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Andrew Macia was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. He spends his time helping others with their recovery and growing his online business.

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