GUILT AND ADDICTION. How to prevent GUILT from threatening your addiction recovery

Hey, it’s Garret Biss. So I just wanted to do a quick couple of videos, about two major obstacles to things that we all face or have faced in recovery and face in our life, but our two obstacles that can really prevent us from living into the life that we want and, and experiencing the recovery that we want.

And these two things that we’re going to talk about. I believe lead more people to relapse, more people to, struggling and facing more and more challenges or exacerbating the challenge that they’re facing and their recovery. And these two things I believe hold more people back from living into and, that thriving recovery or experiencing the recovery that they want and what these two things are, these two obstacles.

One is guilt and the other is shame. And they’d come up for different reasons. They are not, they’re, they’re similar. They manifest for similar reasons, but they’re really two completely different emotions. So I’m going to, we’ll talk about each one individually. First one, I’ll talk about his guilt. So what is guilt exactly? Will it can show up in two ways. Sometimes guilt can be a good thing if we’re feeling guilty about something that we’re about to do or something that we might do in the future.

And that guilt prevents us from doing it well, that can be a good thing. And that can, you know, help us, be that person that we want to be or do the things that we want to do. But guilt is also a very negative thing if it’s guilt that we have an emotion that we have over something that we’ve done in the past. So what I guess to explain this, we need to really understand what guilt is. So it’s an emotion, think of it as an emotional baggage that we take on so that we can continue to feel like we’re a good person. So this comes about when we have an image or we have a belief and understanding of what a good person is and what a good person does and what a good person doesn’t do, and we commit an action that violates that belief. So we can come to a conclusion on one or two things.

Either we can accept the fact that we’re not a good person, or we can take on this emotional baggage of guilt so that we can still feel like we’re a good person. Uh, but now we’re being penalized and now we’re kind of punishing ourselves so that we can continue to feel like we are a good person or believe that we’re a good person. But when we choose to take on this guilt, which is an emotion that we often choose to take on, and there’s ways that we can, uh, lessen the guilt or choose not to accept the guilt and that emotional baggage, but when we do experience guilt, it can affect everything in our life and it can affect everything that is vital for recovery. One thing it affects is our self esteem.

The more guilt that we feel, the lower our sense of self esteem, the lower our, uh, impression of, or our understanding of what we’re capable of in the moment and the level of challenges that we can overcome. It affects our sense of worth. The more guilt that we carry, the less value we place on ourselves for the less, worth we feel that we have. And when your worth goes down, then you begin to accept less of yourself and less from other things in your life. You begin to accept less, recognition, less involvement, less, uh, less engagement because you feel like you’re not worth experiencing more or having more me.

And we start to cower away from going after the goals that we have. The ambitions that we have are just the things that we want to pursue in our life. And when you’re striving for living into the best recovery that you have, if your sense of worth goes down, then your sense of ability or your, your fear, your feeling that you can achieve what you want to in your life continues to go now. And because of this, it continues to feel that cycle. So as we feel or we, experience this emotion of guilt and it drives down our self esteem, we begin to accept less of our own behaviors even and less of what we get from the, from the world or less recognition that we get from the world.

And that puts us in a place where we violate that basic belief again, or we’re more prone to commit actions in the future that violate that basic belief. Now we accept less from ourselves and we accept less from others and we also feel less trustworthy. So the more guilt that we carry, the less a sense of trustworthiness we have about ourselves in this affects our ability to trust other people. We feel if we’re not somebody that can be trusted because we carry all this guilt over all the times that we violated that belief about what a good person does, then we become less trustworthy of other people.

And that really affects our ability to have connection with other people. And connection is one of the most vital things for thriving recovery and not just connection to other people, but connection to meaningful work, connection to contribution. All of these connections can be jeopardized or strained by greater emotions of guilt. And as we’re carrying this weight, this emotional baggage of guilt, it has obvious emotional consequences and the more guilt that we feel, uh, the greater stress that we have that stress leads to physiological challenges that leads to, just stress or challenges on the way that our brain operates it. The greater stress that we carry around and for the longer we carry it around and affects our cognitive function, affects our creativity, affects our ability to really think through and engage and see solutions to the problems that are before us.

And if you’re in recovery, there’s going to be a lot of problems that you face. And if you can’t see a solution to it or you don’t have the creative mind to be able to figure out how you’re going to get your way through it, or you’re in such a stress state that you can’t even envision yourself successfully navigating these challenges. And that obviously puts you in a terrible place for continuing, your recovery also as our sense of worth goes down because the guilt increases then it fuels other things. It feels their perception about the world that we experience around us.

The more guilt that we feel, the less worthy we feel of having those, of achieving those things that we want to, of reaching our goals, of experiencing the good things in our life. So we began to focus our attention on, not intentionally, but the way that our biases work, our confirmation and perception biases work, is we begin to see more evidence of all the negative things that are going on in our life. And we feel like we deserve those things because of the level of guilt that we have. So we become almost blinded to some of the blessings that we have. Some of the opportunities we have, some of them, many things that are going really well in our life. We can see how this emotion of guilt just creates and fuels a downward spiral that has so many consequences, that challenge, so many things that are, that are vital for very important for our recovery. So what can we do about it? As we’re feeling these emotions of guilt, what can we do about it? So we talked about how guilt is kind of a bridge that connects this vision that we have of what a good person is and what a good person does and the reality of an action that we’ve done or something that we’ve committed and the guilt that we feel is that bridge that kind of connects the two.

So we can still feel like we’re a good person, but we’re carrying this, this pain or this punishment for the actions that we committed. So one of two things we can do will, we can’t change that action. So we can’t change the thing that we’ve done in the past. So if we want to alleviate that guilt, then we’ve got to change our belief about what a good person is or what a good person does. And here’s the truth. And here’s the, here’s what honestly happens. We have a belief about what a good person who is maybe a good person, doesn’t steal or a good person doesn’t lie to a friend or a good person is always there for a friend or family member when they’re in need.

That’s true. But what is also true is that a good person that will always do the best that they can at the moment with whatever level of awareness, ability, knowledge, understanding energy that they have to commit an action at that time. And no matter what we’re committing or what we’re doing, we’re using all the resources that we have to not only do the best that we can, but to fulfill a basic human need that we have. And this is obvious or this can be obvious to understand if we’re looking at some basic, animal needs that we have for just food and water and shelter. And if we don’t have these things in our life and these most basic animal needs are not met, then certainly our attention is going to be invested on or, in trying to fulfill those needs. But that we also have emotional needs. We also have very basic human needs for connection, for acceptance, for love.

And sometimes our needs for these connections will have us commit actions that we’re not proud of and that we later become guilty for it. But we have basic human needs ourselves. And many times that we let other people down or we commit, an action that isn’t congruent with what we believe a good person is or what a good person does. It’s because we have a certain need or a great fear that comes up that one of those needs will be jeopardized or that they won’t be fulfilled. And that’s why we commit that action. But here’s the truth, and this is what you need to accept. No matter what you’ve done in the past, you did the best that you could at the time with the limited knowledge, resources, awareness, and really just energy that you have. And this can be hard to accept because that our ability to commit certain actions isn’t the same every day.

One day you might do a commit, an action that is in that is congruent with what you believe a good person should do. Maybe someday you don’t lie or one day you didn’t cheat or one day you were there for a loved one as you, as best as you could be, but another day you might not be able to operate at that same level. You might not be able to act in that same way, and that’s just because you have a different level of understanding of awareness, of fulfillment, of your basic human needs. So you can’t operate in that way. If we can look back at the times that we committed an action that violated our belief about what a good person is, I’m sure that we can look at the situation with the context and find some basic need that we had or some basic, uh, yeah, some basic need that we had that could be challenged. It could be violated.

A lot of times when we lie to other people, it’s because we fear that we’re going to lose connection and it doesn’t really make sense that we’d lie to somebody with fear that we lose connection because it’s just lying to them could threaten that connection. But in that moment or at that time with the level of awareness that we have and the resource that we had available to us at that time, that was the best that we could come up with. I’m certainly not excusing behavior. We’re saying that it’s okay to lie. That’s certainly not the truth and not what I’m saying, but it’s, it doesn’t serve anybody. If we carry this emotional baggage of guilt, it doesn’t allow us to become the best versions of ourselves. It doesn’t allow us to engage and make the contribution and be that loving or contributing member of society to be that loving member of the friendships and the relationships that you have.

So if we carry this baggage, it affects the person that we are and the way that we show up. And that doesn’t serve anybody and it only furthers us from, from experiencing those things that we need to thrive in our recovery from getting those basic needs met. And as our sense of worth or sense of self esteem diminishes, it diminishes what we’re willing to accept for ourselves and the level and the behavior that we accept of ourselves. So as this downward spiral fuels itself, we are, we’re more prone to commit more things that will be guilty for. So we really need to find a way to stop that.

So if there’s things that you’re carrying a tremendous amount of guilt over from your past, realize that whatever the situation was in that moment, he did the best that you could at the time with the limited understanding, resources, awareness, and ability that you had in that moment. Doesn’t mean you need to commit those actions again, but realize that you don’t need to carry that emotional baggage of guilt for the rest of your life. And it’s not serving anybody. We do it because we feel that we must carry this baggage, but when we do so, it doesn’t serve us and it doesn’t help us, serve those that we might’ve hurt or those relationships that we might’ve challenged or those people that we might’ve wronged. Another thing that’s very important that helps us overcome the sense of guilt is guilt really thrives in silence.

When we don’t tell other people or we don’t confess what we’ve done to somebody else, that guilt really thrives and it can erode our sense of worth on our self esteem that much faster, that much greater. So a very effective to overcome the guilt is to express what we’ve done, express the way that we violated ourself, our image of what a good person does or maybe violated the trust of another person. The moment that you can confess that either to the person that you wronged or just to somebody else, then that sense of guilt can, can begin to dissipate or begin to go away. So guilt a major obstacle to living the life that you want. Living that thriving recovery that you want. Guilt can be something that piles up. And then the more, the more that we do, or the more time that goes by, that can be a, it will have a greater effect on our emotions, on our psychology, on our physiology, and on our scent, on our sense of spirituality.


Start the conversation