I recall years of ‘saying sorry’ and trying to ‘act sorry’ for the things I did in addiction. The term ‘guilt and shame’ is so engrained in recovery that I started wondering how long I needed to continuously repent for my past? I know from my experience in addiction that carrying these feelings of repentance only diminished myself in my recovery. Yes, I did things in addiction that I am not proud of but it was all that I knew then. I needed to learn to fully accept myself in recovery to find true freedom.
Defects of Character in Recovery from Addiction?
I coach many people who still carry the guilt and shame of their addicted selves in their recovery. In addiction I hear them label themselves as “My name is XXX and I’m an addict. My defects of character are that I’m selfish, arrogant and self-centered”. In my experience of recovery meeting this is the typical rhetoric which flows automatically from mouths of addicts in recovery. This would always jar me as I wondered how much life/ how much recovery are they speaking over themselves? I wondered if they realized how impactful their words of ‘decay’ and self-labelling were? When I stopped speaking these words over my life then my healing in recovery began.
Such words spoken over our lives don’t humble or ground. These words reinforce the negative core self we acquired in addiction. Yet we so often carry the ghosts of our once addicted selves into recovery. This only serves to continue to decay the person we’re trying to become. There’s no freedom in that.
Your words are powerful don’t use them against yourself
In addiction recovery when we continue to live under labels of ‘defects of character’ (which are often pointed out by others) we are not being self-aware but rather being self-destructive. Our words are the most powerful weapons that we possess. I find it heartbreaking listening to people use their words against themselves instead of using them to speak life. In Proverbs 18:21 it reads: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” To find true freedom it is time to discern between words of life and words of death when speaking over ourselves.
When we reinforce brokenness a neurobiological impact occurs. The subconscious, which cannot distinguish between an illusion and reality is programmed to react to both as real .
I agree with making amends with others for past hurts but not through a process of contineous repentance. It’s the lessons that we learn from our past which help build our future and strengthen our recovery. It’s not self-flagellation from living in the past and carrying that guilt and shame into recovery. There is no recovery in this behavior, only servitude. Consider this: If you have a boil (Addiction) which is infected and you have it lanced and dressed (making amends). Would you continue to tell people that you have an infected boil once it is healed? (Recovery)
Our recovery is about self-acceptance
Recovery is about acceptance of our past, it’s not about constant repentance and self-flagellation for the past. When we accept ourselves we live in possibility and not in servitude. In my poem ‘The Seasons of Addiction’ (Click here) I speak about the guilt and shame I carried for years. In my poem, guilt and shame for my past live in ‘The Winter of Addiction’. They are part of the sickness. In the ‘Spring of my Addiction’, in recovery, that guilt and shame no longer exist.
Breaking free from words and self-assessments which keep u stuck is true acceptance of our past and ourselves. Remaining trapped in words which speak of sickness, keeps us stuck in the sickness.
Our words are habitual and they entwine themselves with our emotions. This serves to reinforce an ingrained defeatist opinion of ourselves. It is this process that forms the person that we are or hoping to become. Be cautious of slipping from one habit into another. Try speak of freedom, not servitude.
Words are habitual
Begin to speak of acceptance, not repentance. Speak life, not death, and begin to break free from the labels that keep you chained to your past
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. Most people find it difficult to believe that a state of consciousness totally free of all negativity is possible. And yet this is the liberated state to which all spiritual teachings point. It is the promise of salvation, not in an illusory future but right here and now.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Richard has a Master’s Degree in Leadership and is a qualified Ontological Coach who battled chronic addiction for 17 years. He is an author, lecturer and addiction recovery coach. View Richard’s website at: www.oio24.com and subscribe to Richard’s blog at: www.blog.oio24.com
Richard is available for speaking engagements and 1:1 coaching sessions. Contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org to book.