Our addictions and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, have a way of taking over our lives and our psyches, causing us to feel ashamed of ourselves and to feel undeserving of happiness. We lose our sense of self and purpose. We have a hard time believing in ourselves at all. We can go through the motions of getting help, we can even go so far as to start therapy or to check ourselves into rehab, but if we don’t get to the underlying feelings of self-worth, our recovery won’t be genuine, and it won’t last. Being in recovery doesn’t just mean abstaining from our drug(s) of choice. Just as importantly, recovery means working on the mental and emotional challenges that come with our addictions. Many addicts share the commonality of carrying excessive shame, not being able to forgive themselves, and losing faith in themselves.
We’ve all done things we’ve regretted and been ashamed of. Sometimes the difference between happy people and addicts, and people with mental/emotional problems, is their ability to forgive themselves for their mistakes and wrongdoings. They are able to feel guilt without letting it morph into all-consuming shame- the feeling that you are a horrible person, that you are inadequate, unworthy, or undeserving of love as a result. They are able to let things go and move forward. Addicts and people with mental/emotional health issues, however, cling to their shame and carry it with them for years, sometimes most of their lives. Sometimes their shame causes them to hate themselves so much they become self-destructive, racking up more mistakes and regrets, causing them to accumulate even more shame. They bury their shame under their addictions, unhealthy behaviors and toxic thought patterns.
To recover and to be happy, we have to believe in ourselves. Having self-forgiveness can feel impossible at times. We feel like we don’t deserve to be forgiven. We have to believe in our ability to work through that process, though. We have to be able to start telling ourselves things like, “even though I have regrets, I believe in my ability to change. Even though I’ve made some devastating mistakes, I believe in my ability to get better.” Depending on where you are in your recovery, the words “I forgive myself” might feel too loaded and too unrecognizable, too heavy and too sad. Try simply saying “I believe in myself.” Invoke the feelings of what it would be like to believe in yourself and keep affirming it until you start to feel a genuine renewed sense of hope and confidence in yourself. When we believe in ourselves anything is possible, including full recovery.
The community at Enlightened Solutions offers therapy, mentoring, connection and friendship. We help each other to believe in ourselves. Call (833) 801-LIVE for support.
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