Normal amounts of guilt are perfectly natural and healthy. After all, it would be odd if you didn’t feel guilty for doing something hurtful or harmful to others. On the other hand, excessive guilt – or constantly beating yourself over a past wrong – is unhealthy for you and for your recovery. This is partly because excessive guilt can lead to negative self-talk and low self-esteem – both of which can hold you back and make you more susceptible to relapse.
Luckily, you can take some steps to help yourself let go of the guilt of addiction – or, at the very least, reduce the negative impact guilt is having on your long-term sobriety. Start with these tips:
- Write it down. A great way to release any feelings of guilt is to put them down on paper. This helps you to be objective and to identify what you’re feeling guilty about so you can decide to deal with it or simply let it go.
- Talk about it. Confiding in a friend or family member can help you be honest with yourself and provide an unbiased perspective.
- Practice self-love. The best way to practice this is to think about what you’d say to a friend who was suffering from guilt. Would you tell him that it’s OK and that we all make mistakes? Would you encourage him to make amends? Or perhaps, you’d say nothing and just give him a big hug. Self-love is about knowing when to push yourself and when to forgive yourself.
- Help someone else. Doing a good deed is a great way to squash any negative feelings you have about yourself. So go ahead and donate some old clothing or buy your neighbor a cup of cofee.
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