When we harm someone emotionally or physically we usually have guilty feelings. Guilt keeps our conscious human actions in check. It is the barometer for right and wrong. Even if we are a saint, we can’t make it through life without hurting someone. Think of all the lovers who have cheated on one another, or the arguments that escalate too rapidly and hurtful things are exchanged between two people.
Before we got sober, we may have hurt someone. Even now in sobriety, we are still capable of hurting someone. In sobriety, we learn to take responsibility for our actions. We can apologize and make amends by showing the person what we are doing to change our behavior.
What can we say, however, to the part of us that may still hold onto guilt, even after we’ve apologized? Why are you still here, even after I’ve made amends? I’m still here because I still feel terrible about what I did. If you continue to hold onto the guilt we will continue to feel badly all the time. What do you suggest? Let go. How can we let go? We can let go by forgiving ourselves.
We can feel guilty if we refused to work 60 hours this week, or from missing a loved one’s birthday party, or worse, if we take time for ourselves. In these situations, we can ask ourselves if the decision we made was really all that bad and deserves self-flogging.
The worse reaction we can have to guilt is harboring low self-esteem. We’ve made amends or apologized. It may sound harsh, but we have to get over our guilt and move on with our life. If our actions caused irreversible harm to someone it is extremely advisable to seek counselling.
Another question you can ask the guilty part of yourself is, have I learned anything from this experience? Being able to learn from our mistakes enables us to grow. We are in recovery. We are not perfect. We are sorry, but we mustn’t turn the hurt we caused back upon ourselves.
“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.”—Audre Lorde
Getting sober is the beginning of a magnificent change within you. At Infinity Malibu we recognize and respect the individual you are, and your potential. Call us today and learn about our addiction recovery programs. We offer privacy, beautiful oceans views and tools for your infinite recovery. Call today 888-266-9048