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How Self-Blame Holds Us Back in Recovery

Here, we’ll look at how self-blame sabotages recovery. Through affirmations, positivity, and forgiveness, we can begin to change our belief system.

As recovering addicts and people struggling with mental health issues, there are some very persistent emotions we tend to cling to that block us in our recovery. These emotions both limit us and hold us back. Self-blame is one of these emotions, and it can cause us considerable pain. Sometimes we think we’re doing the right thing by blaming ourselves for the difficult things that have happened in our lives, whether they were wrongdoings we were responsible for or not. We think self-blame is a normal part of making amends, seeking forgiveness, and being a good person. What we often don’t realize, though, is that self-blame can be toxic and destructive and that as we’re trying to recover, it can literally sabotage our progress. This article will focus on the dangers of blaming yourself and some healthier alternatives.

Many find that even once we’ve achieved sobriety, we still aren’t happy. We might be sober, but we don’t feel as though we love ourselves. We aren’t able to look forward with optimism, hopefulness, and positivity. We don’t feel capable of making meaningful changes in our lives. For many of us, this comes down to the fact that we’re still punishing ourselves with shame. Quite simply: we’re blaming ourselves over and over again.

When we self-blame, we’re denying ourselves forgiveness, which is absolutely critical to the process of healing and moving forward. We judge ourselves harshly, beat ourselves up for the same mistakes and wrongdoings, many of which happened a very long time ago. We blame ourselves for the things other people in our lives have done wrong, assuming responsibility even when we didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards of perfection. We become ashamed and disappointed in ourselves if we don’t meet our own expectations. Self-blame keeps us trapped in feelings of insecurity, self-rejection, and self-hatred. We’re essentially telling ourselves that we don’t deserve to forgive ourselves or to move forward. We’re not giving ourselves the compassion and understanding we often give to others.

Self-blaming keeps us looking back toward the past that we can’t change, rather than looking forward to a future with endless possibilities. We feel a tremendous amount of regret and remorse. We live in the past. When we live in the past, we can’t live in the present moment and we miss out on so many of life’s joys. It’s impossible to really heal ourselves when we’re constantly dredging up old wounds, replaying painful memories, and inundating ourselves with shame. The pain we feel seems to take over our entire lives. It can be hard to think of anything else. We become obsessive. We might have recurring flashbacks and nightmares. We don’t allow ourselves to leave things in the past, and they have a way of staying with us and wreaking havoc on our lives.

Self-blame and self-rejection cause us to undervalue ourselves, and our whole lives suffer as a result. We are manifesting everything in our lives from a place of low self-worth. This means we’ll attract circumstances and relationships that reflect this low level of self-worth, situations and people that make us feel even worse about ourselves. We come to believe that we are inadequate and unworthy. We feel inferior to other people and start to see others, but not ourselves, as deserving of happiness and forgiveness. We get locked in recurring cycles of self-destructive behaviors because we’re trying to escape the pain of our self-blame. Blaming ourselves can be a relapse trigger for many of us.

How can we break free from these cycles? How can we begin to release the shame and blame so that we can fully love ourselves and work to heal our pain? It starts with forgiving ourselves, which is necessary, but far from easy. One way we can go about forgiving ourselves is to start trying to see things more objectively. If a loved one of yours had done the thing you’re unable to forgive yourself for, would you be able to forgive them? Imagining this situation can provide a healthy distance. What blocks you from being able to forgive yourself when you would forgive others for doing the same thing? Oftentimes, feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, or self-hatred trick us into believing that we don’t deserve forgiveness. The good news is that we can change our beliefs. We have the ability to shed our limiting beliefs and practice embodying new ones until they’re solidified in our consciousness as our new truths.

We want to reprogram our subconscious minds to believe we’re deserving of love and forgiveness. Two of the best ways to access our subconscious mind are through repetition and the written word. When we write and repeat aloud affirmations that confirm we are lovable, good people who are worthy and deserving of forgiveness, we start to slowly believe these things. The trick is to put the full weight of our energy behind our affirmations, even if we don’t believe them at first. This means trying to envision and embody what it would be like to believe these new truths, and then carry that energy within us as much as possible. Envision yourself healed. See yourself loving and forgiving yourself fully. What would you look like? How would you feel? Hold that vision as you work with affirmations that resonate with you. Below, you’ll find a few affirmations to start with. Feel free to invent your own, as well.

I deserve to forgive myself for ____.

I deserve to let this go.

I deserve to be happy.

I deserve to move forward.

I am worthy of forgiveness.

My loved ones forgive me.

My higher power forgives me.

I am lovable.

I am good enough.

I am a good person.

I can enjoy the present moment.

I can look forward with hope and faith.

I am manifesting a beautiful future for myself.

The caring, compassionate staff of The Guest House is here to support you as you start your journey to recovery and healing. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.