How to Cope With Guilt in Recovery
The Discovery House Blog

How to Cope With Guilt in Recovery

August 13, 2018 Addiction Treatment, Life in Recovery

Working the 12 Steps to recovery is a helpful tool not only for your sobriety but also for your peace of mind. The journey of introspection and self-awareness brings you closer to loving and accepting yourself as you are. With that said, it can also bring about many feelings of negativity, guilt, and shame as you search within yourself to find the ways in which you have wronged others and been wronged yourself. Feelings of guilt will only weigh you down in the long run, and, at worst, could be a potential trigger for relapse. The following are a few helpful ways to cope with guilt in recovery.

Recognize Your Feelings

Once you face your feelings of guilt, then you can begin to heal and move forward with your life. In your active addiction, it’s very likely that you may have done things for which you presently feel regret. This feeling of regret and the associated guilt is something that you have to embrace and accept. It’s important not to dwell on these feelings but rather be aware of their presence in your mind, so that you may help yourself see past them.
coping with guilt in addiction recovery man sitting on dock

Forgive But Do Not Forget

Step 9 of the 12 Steps states “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” When you seek the forgiveness of others, it is for the purpose of doing right by them and not to make yourself feel better; however, when you seek forgiveness within yourself, it’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Forgive yourself, but never forget the harm your actions have caused. This is not intended in a way to further cause you pain or guilt, but rather to help mitigate any future actions that could result in causing unintended hurt to yourself or others. Remember what you have done and where it has got you, but do not live in the past. Use it as a motivation to be the best you moving forward.
coping with guilt in addiction recovery woman sitting on swing at sunset

Think it Over

Using what you have learned thus far in your recovery process, think of ways in which you can correct your behavior in order to do better in the future. Once you have understood your feelings of guilt and the roots of these feelings, sought forgiveness from others and forgiven yourself, you only have the present and the future to look to. Keep the past in the back of your mind so that it may inform your present and future. Use your experiences and strength to carry on in your recovery and be successful.

coping with guilt in addiction recovery man contemplating at sunset

Finally, be proud of yourself. The recovery journey is a daily process and one that is best taken at a slow and steady pace. Do not get too hard on yourself for struggling, for you are not the only one fighting an uphill battle. Seek out your sober support network and sponsor if you find yourself bogged down with negative thoughts. Remember to use your feelings as motivation to do right by yourself and your loved ones. Guilt is fleeting and you are strong and capable of overcoming it. You are a recovery warrior and your story will inspire others.

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