Shame and Guilt Feelings
Feelings of guilt and shame can be very disabling leading to playing the victim, feelings of depression and an overwhelming sense of disempowerment! These feelings have no place in our recovery lives and can be addressed so as they do not remain a relapse dynamic! Contact Twin Rivers today and talk with a counsellor about our programme and how it can help you feel more grounded and in control of your own life.
You have been told from your early age that you were okay or not okay, accepted or not accepted. Your self-esteem is likely to have been influenced by your everyday experiences and the way you have been viewed by others.
You probably also have experienced feelings of guilt and shame throughout your life. What are they and how do they impact you?
The Difference Between Shame and Guilt
A lot of people confuse guilt with shame, but their meaning is slightly different. Shame says it’s something wrong with who you are or who you have become, and guilt says there’s something wrong with what you’ve done to yourself and others!
When we feel shame, we view ourselves in a negative light and think that we are the main problem. Guilt, however, is characterised by looking negatively at one certain action if we have done something wrong. We feel bad, that our behaviour and decisions have hurt someone else and feel responsible for the harm we’ve caused.
Also, guilt is an indication that an individual may be empathetic and compassionate. This characteristic is vital to one’s willingness to take someone else’s viewpoint, act altruistically, and have strong, healthy relationships.
When we know we hurt someone, that can cause guilt. But instead of feeling guilty, what we should do is to acknowledge the mistake, ask for forgiveness, make amends, and do better next time which is often easier said than done!
Shame and Guilt in Daily Life
When shame is profoundly embedded into the self-esteem of a person, he or she will become super-sensitive to what seems like rejection and feel useless.
Guilt doesn’t make you do well, it just pushes you to struggle more and causes to drain you both mentally and physically. If we feel guilty, we are not motivated to fulfil goals, we do not accept that we can conquer obstacles, we simply remain stuck.
The guilt is much more likely to induce destructive activity than it is to cure it. It is strongly associated with addiction, depression, abuse, hostility, and harassment. It’s not beneficial to be embarrassed by yourself, and it’s a crucial thing to get our heads and hearts around as a society.
Guilt is not just about what others are saying or thinking about you. It is what you are saying about yourself internally, too. It is the criticism and judgement that comes upon you. It is the struggle that exists inside of you. What needs to be done is to adjust the narrative of what has transpired to make the memory more acceptable.
Shame and Guilt During Recovery
Experiencing feelings of shame and guilt can lead to self-punishment and negative behaviour. These emotions are closely associated with addiction, depression, suicide, and violence. While you might want to punish yourself and everyone else as you struggle with your guilt, recovery isn’t going to be effective.
On the other hand, feelings of guilt can help you heal through recovery as they are signs that you are going through a positive healing period, helping you to take control of your actions and fix them.
On the other side, shame can help you heal during therapy. Feelings of remorse are an indication that you are going through a positive healing period that will help you take control of your actions and fix them.
You might want to focus on thoughts of guilt in the treatment, acknowledge them, and then reverse them. When you take responsibility for the wrong decisions you have made, after apologising and fixing those mistakes, you’ll be ready to create a new life that’s been dominated by addiction.
How to Deal with Shame and Guilt
The best way to deal with shame, for people is to find what you’re most proud of and grateful for. It’s hard to deal with shame, which is why it needs to be overwhelmed with the good.
Many people often feel fear of the choices they have taken in their lives. Yet, most of them are thankful for the lessons they have learned along the way. Instead of thinking, “It shouldn’t have happened,” say, “It happened, and I’m going to change the way I respond to what happened.”
If you don’t judge the past, it’s a lot easier to accept what’s happened. Coping with self-forgiveness is a real getaway to becoming your greatest version of yourself.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process