If forgiving someone else is difficult, forgiving ourselves for past mistakes, feelings of shame or faults can be even more challenging. You may feel guilty about something you did, did not do, or wished you had done differently. Little by little, brooding over it becomes a kind of self-punishment – as if suffering for past mistakes could make up for them.
But there are several negative emotions brought about by this feeling of self-condemnation: grudge, resentment, bitterness, and other feelings that little by little, erode our lives. It can be even more complex for patients seeking rehab services for drug or alcohol addiction and abuse.
After all, they are naturally more vulnerable people and crushed by shame or guilt; they can return to addiction or feel that they will never be happy again. Fortunately, it is possible to make peace with yourself, let go of shame and guilt, and put the past in the past to live in the present and aim for the future. Just dedicate yourself to practicing these four steps every rainy day.
Guilt and shame can hide behind other conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Rather than ignoring it and convincing yourself that nothing went wrong, acknowledge it. Be honest with yourself, admit your mistakes, and evaluate the consequences of your behavior and how it haunts you today.
Making mistakes in life is perfectly natural. However, being honest and facing them head-on requires courage and humility. Determine what is bothering you and think of ways to deal with it once and for all. Your emotional health demands that you accept and make peace with your past to have the freedom to move forward with your life.
Talk About It
Silence about the mistakes of our past is natural; after all, no one likes to talk about something they are not proud of. But this silence will not make things change or disappear. It’s good to ask for help before the situation escalates into depression or a thoughtless attitude.
You can talk about what haunts you with friends, family, or even a professional – such as a psychologist. Instead of running away from your feelings, talk about them and ask people close to you for advice. Chatting makes it easier to accept and acknowledge.
Too much shame and guilt can also send you back to substance abuse in a desperate attempt to avoid these feelings. If you’ve reached this point and feel that talking is not enough, seek help from a specialized service, such as a benzodiazepine treatment facility in Massachusetts or the city closest to your home.
Eliminate Negative Self-Talk
People can often turn to negative self-talk: thoughts like “I can’t do anything right,” “I hate everything about myself,” or “Nobody likes me.” This way, you will believe that you don’t do anything right, which impacts your motivation – taking away the will to keep trying.
Here are some tips to reduce negative self-talk and be more confident in your potential:
- Repeat your negative self-talk out loud to understand how exaggerated and even ridiculous it can be.
- Whenever a negative thought starts, change it to something encouraging or remember a compliment you received.
- Don’t associate your behavior with who you are as a person because your behaviors don’t define who you are.
- Change negative feelings and opinions to a kinder language, looking for solutions.
- Whenever you are exercising self-criticism, think about how a dear friend or family member would say the same thing to you.
- Try to look at things in the long term: what can you do to change how you feel now?
Learn to Let Go
Do not hold on to guilt and shame. Rather than thinking about what you’ve done wrong in the past and fearing that you will repeat the same mistake, focus on what you can do to help you feel better.
To let go of self-condemnation, you must either accept the past and bury it or let it go. One of the best ways to do this is to write a journal on paper or online. By describing the thoughts and feelings that have been haunting you this whole time, you get them out and learn to deal with them better.
Then try to identify if your past mistakes hurt anyone (friends, family), and apologize to them too. Finally, try to develop your psychological and spiritual side by engaging in reading, meditation exercises, or mindfulness practice. All this will help you let go.
Get Rid of Negative Thoughts and Free Yourself
Sometimes wrong decisions, attitudes, and behaviors haunt us indefinitely, causing feelings like guilt and shame. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little bit of this from time to time; after all, life is not all roses.
But when you dedicate yourself all day, for weeks, months, and years to negative thoughts about yourself, it ends up becoming something toxic that can destroy your motivation and self-confidence.
Use the steps above to get rid of these negative thoughts, learn to let go and free yourself from all shame and guilt by learning to be more positive about yourself.