Of all the emotions we contend with throughout the course of our addictions, shame may be the most limiting and debilitating. Shame keeps us locked in cycles of self-deprecation, self-hatred and judgment. We find it impossible to forgive ourselves. We convince ourselves that we are shameful, immoral people rather than seeing ourselves as growing and learning from our mistakes. We don’t see our missteps as the normal part of our evolution that they really are. We create a self-image based on our shame, and we reject ourselves. Our self-hatred blocks our recovery and makes us seek refuge from our cruelty in our addictions.
Dismantling the shame around addiction is a crucial step in the self-acceptance process. We can consciously choose to shed the stigma surrounding addicts and addiction. We can reject the notion that addiction is not a real thing, that addicts use it as an excuse for immorality and recklessness. We can recognize just how destructive an illness it is and have compassion for ourselves in our struggles. We can see how pervasive and all-consuming addiction can be and commend ourselves for the strength in coping with it. We can choose to be proud of ourselves for not giving up on ourselves and our quest for recovery. We can see our healing and recovery as accomplishments, rather than seeing our addiction as a source of shame.
The shame we feel internally has a lot to do with our culture’s perception of addiction. Addiction is depicted in the same negative light as criminal behavior, homelessness and poverty, all of which are shunned and judged. As a culture we don’t lift up our most vulnerable populations. We don’t seek to uplift, encourage or love them. We reject them from the mainstream culture, making them outcasts. When we shame and shun people, it only causes them to sink lower into the depths of their pain. It exacerbates their existing problems. They become more depressed, more addicted, more likely to act out. The answer is to give more energy and attention to the people who need it, and to give them more love, not less. We can see all of our challenges as testaments of our strength, as special characteristics that add to our uniqueness. We can view our society as comprised of differing personalities, all coping with different and unique struggles that add to their growth and progress.
When we commit to seeing all of us as equal rather than judging people and placing them in hierarchies of goodness, status and morality, we open ourselves up to learning from each other and sharing in the beautiful experience of life. Dismantling shame in ourselves and in our culture is a gift we can give not just to the people living with addiction but from everyone else who can stand to learn from our experience and wisdom.
At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that every addict can recover. We provide the supportive community, care and healing modalities to help you regain your self-love. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.