A common theme for many addicts and those with mental health problems is the deep shame and guilt we carry, not only because of our past mistakes and wrongdoings, but also from the false beliefs we hold that we aren’t worthy of love and forgiveness. Often when we experience trauma in childhood, we carry within us a persistent sense of inadequacy and unworthiness. We carry our regrets as heavy burdens. We find it increasingly hard to forgive ourselves. We learn over time though, that self-deprecation only adds to our pain, and when we make the important decision to choose happiness and wellness, we know self-forgiveness is a necessary part of our healing.
Being unable to forgive ourselves perpetuates our mental health problems and addictive behaviors. Having self-forgiveness can feel daunting, even impossible, especially when we have been carrying around years of embarrassment, regret, guilt and shame, sometimes for most of our lives. The practice and process of self-forgiveness, and extending unconditional love to ourselves, can be quite liberating and can really help us to heal from our mental and emotional challenges and addictions.
When we are suffering, we tend to be unreasonably hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up for lacking motivation when we are depressed, we criticize ourselves harshly when we neglect self-care, and we judge ourselves harshly for our mistakes. We forget that we are human, and that none of us is immune to making mistakes or hurting other people. We speak to ourselves in such unkind ways that we both perpetuate and exacerbate our depression, anxiety and addictive behaviors by compounding the deep sense of unworthiness and inadequacy we already felt. When we are down, we want that substance, partner or habit that temporarily makes us feel better, but then the ensuing feelings are often of regret and shame, which makes us want to turn to our drug of choice yet again. We find ourselves in a never-ending cycle of trauma, then avoiding, suppressing, compounding and exacerbating the pain of that trauma.
The inner child within us needs to be told that she is good enough, that her mistakes and regrets don’t undermine her worth, and that she deserves unconditional love. If you believe in a higher power, tell yourself that He/She/it has already forgiven you and that you have permission to forgive yourself. Place your hand on your heart, activating its energetic power, and meditate on forgiveness. Visualize yourself at peace within yourself. Affirm that you are safe, secure, deserving of forgiveness, and unconditionally worthy of love. Radical self-forgiveness allows us to free ourselves from the cycles of self-deprecation that fuel our mental and emotional challenges and addictions.
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