Shame is the feeling a person experiences when they’ve behaved in a way that they view as wrong or improper. Shame differs from guilt in that guilt is the sense that a person’s actions are wrong, while shame is the belief that there is something wrong with a person, and this is why they’ve done something wrong. Shame plays a role in addiction and recovery as a person begins to recognize their actions as wrongful and make an effort to change them.
Why We Need Shame
Shame is a natural emotion that helps us to moderate our behavior. The idea that we feel bad when we cross certain boundaries keeps us from living completely out of control. A moderate amount of shame lets us know when we’re doing something wrong, and prevents us from doing it again in the future.
In terms of addiction, shame can be a driving force for an addict to make a change. Feeling shameful about the poor decisions they’ve made and their wrongful behaviors can motivate an addict to make a change. Shame can prevent an addict from returning to substance abuse later on in recovery.
When Shame Becomes a Problem
While a moderate amount of shame is productive, it can be very destructive if it becomes a person’s dominant emotion or focus. Feeling all the time that you’re shortcomings are a result of some sort of deficiency in your person can wreak havoc on a person’s confidence and self esteem. This overwhelming sense of shame is known as toxic shame, and it can hamper recovery efforts if it’s not brought under control.
For addicts, toxic shame is a big reason why they may relapse back into substance abuse after they leave the rehab facility. Feelings of shame are painful, and an addict will seek some relief from this pain by self-medicating with substance abuse. This can make maintaining recovery very difficult in the face of toxic shame.
It’s natural for someone who is suffering addiction to feel toxic shame as they enter recovery. Their inability to conquer their addiction, and the damage it’s caused in their lives will be weighing heavily on their mind. These feelings must be brought under control and done away with if an addict has any hope of maintaining sobriety once they leave rehab.
A person must begin to recognize their own worth in order to dispel feelings of shame. By working with a therapist, an addict can come to realize that they are not bad people, even if their behavior has been bad in the past. Recognizing their value as a person will give an addict the strength and courage to turn away from their past behaviors and make the changes they need to make in their life.
In her former life, Tiecen worked in sales and marketing for a large insurance company. Before starting a family, she decided to switch gears and pursue a career that would give her a little more time at home. She finished up her degree from California Sate University in 2008 and started picking up work as a corporate web content writer. She enjoys learning new things every day as she works with a wide variety of clients, building accessible, professional content for their websites. Visit http://therapia.net/