Gut-wrenching guilt and shame over your past, if carried with you and allowed to remain,…
Get Busy with the Work of Recovery
Are you dealing with feelings of guilt and shame? First, read How Guilt and Shame Can Derail Your Recovery, then check back for what you can do about it.
While you are getting help to overcome the burdens of guilt and shame, it’s also necessary that you take proactive steps to get started on the continuing work of recovery. You can’t just sit back and do nothing. The result will be just that: nothing.
While you may not relapse, you won’t be making any progress toward healing if all you do is think about getting better.
What do we mean by getting busy with the work of recovery? The primary starting point for most individuals in recovery is participation in 12-step groups. You’re familiar with the concept from your days in rehab and while you may have thought that you didn’t need to continue attending meetings, the evidence points to how effective such participation is in helping individuals maintain their sobriety following treatment.
If you haven’t yet done so, look up a 12-step group in your area. It can be close to where you live or work or go to school. It can be on the other side of town, if you’re so consumed with guilt and shame yet that you can’t bear to be anywhere that others who know you will see you going into the rooms.
Now, do more than simply look up the meeting locations. Get yourself in the rooms. It doesn’t matter if you feel alien or like this is a waste of time. You have to plant your backside in a chair and start listening to what’s going on around you. Get in sync with how the program works, how everyone there is supportive of each others’ recovery. These are individuals who, just like you, have struggled to overcome their addiction and are making their way in recovery.
No one has all the answers. Each person has their own path in recovery. But there are many similarities and an overriding goal of sobriety that helps keep the recovery community cohesive and sound. The support and encouragement you will find in the rooms will be invaluable in your continuing quest to overcome your guilt and shame.
The more time you spend in the rooms, the more you will begin to see that there is an alternative to feeling stuck in your negative emotions. Others will share their accounts of how they were able to lift themselves up, with the help of the 12-step community, and get past the cave of negativity they holed themselves up in.
While we’re on the subject of the 12-step groups, be advised that you really need to get a sponsor. You need to do more than just sit in the rooms. That’s an excellent beginning, but to do the work of recovery you need a guide. That guide is your 12-step sponsor. This is the individual who has committed to helping newcomers to the rooms learn about the principles of recovery and how to navigate the Twelve Steps.
Remember that recovery isn’t a race. It’s a lifelong process. There’s no need to worry that you’re not moving fast enough or that if you hit a stumbling block that you can’t get past it. Just keep working the program and you will begin to start believing in yourself again.
It isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will happen. You have to believe that you can heal before you can heal. But taking incremental small steps by actively doing the work of recovery will show you that you can, indeed, make progress. Every little goal that you achieve is another proof positive that you do have what it takes to heal. Every step is another move in the right direction.
Instead of allowing guilt and shame to derail your recovery, take positive steps today to thwart it and stop it in its tracks. Why suffer in silence? Get the help you need and motivate yourself to do what’s necessary. If you do, in no time you will find that guilt and shame have receded and you are free to get on with your life in recovery.