Self-forgiveness is something many of us struggle with. When we are living with addictions and mental health issues, we are often consumed with guilt about our mistakes and regrets, along with a pervasive sense of shame. We become convinced that we are bad people. These emotions actually make it even harder for us to heal. We sabotage our recovery with our judgment and lack of compassion. How can we go about forgiving ourselves?
It helps to remember that we are human, and that all human beings make mistakes. It is human nature. Mistakes are how we learn and grow. Sometimes our growing pains feel insurmountable, and we feel like we’ll never live down our shame. It can help to recognize that our pain is part of our life’s journey. We can’t avoid it. Running from it is often how we developed our addictions and mental health problems in the first place. Our lack of consciousness can fuel our shame and allow it to fester unchecked. When we give it our awareness and mindful attention without trying to escape it, little by little its power over us diminishes.
Facing our shame head on takes courage. You might notice your inner voice berating you, bringing you down, calling you a coward or telling you you’re worthless. Self-doubt, self-hate, anxiety and other manifestations of your fear will undoubtedly arise. Try to change your self-talk to be more encouraging. “You will get through this. I believe in you. You are strong.”
As we gain the strength to face our shame, painful emotions will inevitably come up. We may feel sad and afraid, lost and overwhelmed. Many of us experience suicidal thoughts because ending our lives feels like the only way to finally escape the pain. Sit with these emotions rather than acting on them in unhealthy ways such as engaging in addictive behaviors. Don’t try to fight them, run from them, numb them away or escape them. Our emotions, including the difficult ones, are a part of who we are. We tend to feed their negative energy with our resistance, but having acceptance helps us to come to terms with them and over time helps to reduce our pain responses to them.
To work through this process, we need to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. As much as you can, affirm to yourself “I can forgive myself. My higher power forgives me. I am at peace.”
You don’t have to go through this difficult process alone. Call Vista Taos at (575) 586-5078.