5 Out Of 5 People In Recovery Deal With Guilt & Shame
I was sitting at home the other day with a freshly brewed cup of tea. As I was staring out the sliding glass door that leads out into the backyard it just hit me. The words came in my head out of nowhere, "you stole from people who love you" and "you lied and manipulated so many". What follows these sentences in your head? Shitty feelings and emotions that are driven by guilt, which in return make you feel ashamed of who you are. My second, and thus far final go at staying clean, I knew this was something I had to learn to deal with in a healthy manner.
It weird isn't it? You really don't have any say in the next sentence that pops in your head. Even as I am typing, I really do not know how the words are coming in and out of my stream-of-thought. So how does one learn to do anything about the language we use when it comes to our mistakes in the past? I wish I knew exactly how to do that for everyone, but if it were that easy nobody would ever struggle with anything; once one person figured it out for themselves we would be able to figure it out for ourselves. All I can do is share with you how I deal with it and hope that you can take something from it, apply it to your life, and that will make it just a little bit easier for you. So this is how I broke it down.
I have been infatuated with Taoism and Zen Buddhism for many years. Even prior to my addiction I found myself diving deep into the philosophical ideas of the Eastern Sages for quite some time. We have all heard of the cliche, overused saying "it's just NOW". There is no past, there is no future, it's just NOW. Have you ever stopped to truly think about what that means? Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you were incapable of thinking about the past and incapable of planning for the future? It's bizarre, the greatest advantageous tool in the history of evolution is the greatest curse as well. Thinking about the past and planning for the future is exactly what separates us from every other living thing in the universe. That is the exact reason why Homo-Sapiens are so successful. It is also the reason why the majority of our suffering comes just from thinking.
As I was laying in my jail cell I knew I had to develop the mental discipline to stop thinking negatively about myself and to stop thinking about all the mistakes I have made in my past. How I did this is very simple but not necessarily easy. I just started to pay attention. There would be times when I would catch myself 5-6 hours into thinking negatively, but when I did I would stop and counter it with something positive. As I continued to do this day in and day out the time from when it began to when I stopped became shorter and shorter. I wold counter the "your a piece of shit" thinking with something like "sure you made mistakes, BUT you deserve love, acceptance, and forgiveness". It is amazing how this simple disciplinary act of thinking can change your entire universe. It has shifted my personality from pessimism to optimism. It has allowed me to not only deal with all of the effed-up things I have done in my past, but has also allowed me to learn from the mistakes of my past.
There are times when I feel like we think that we need to do this extraordinary act in order to learn and deserve self-love, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness. That couldn't be further from the truth. You already have everything you need to deserve those things and you already everything you need to get those things. As you get more disciplined in getting out of the stinking-thinking you realize this more and more. You need not do anything magnificent to obtain love, just stop thinking you don't deserve it. Every time you catch yourself thinking that you deserve nothing but pain, stop and tell yourself otherwise. After a certain period of time you will feel exactly what you do deserve, which is, love, acceptance, and forgiveness. You will be able to look at your past, learn from it and then let it go. Change your thought process and you will have a paradigm shift that will change the entire universe.