Overcoming Anger, Guilt, and Shame

With recovery comes an array of mixed feelings and emotions for individuals, especially in the beginning stages of treatment. When a client first enters into a treatment program, they often feel disconnected from their bodies. The beginning stages of recovery are a time for an individual to reconnect with their body, and with that, come to terms with life decisions they have made while using drugs, who they may have hurt during that time, and how they can try to pick up the pieces. As those life decisions come to light, people may begin to experience anger, guilt, and shame. 

However, these feelings are normal and essential to positively deal with those feelings and emotions because they can hinder a person’s successful treatment and long-term recovery. At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, we have the tools and resources to help you cope with these emotions. If you or someone you love is being affected by negative emotions like anger, guilt, and shame, we encourage you to seek help today. 

Are Feelings of Shame Normal?

According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, shame is a “normal phenomenology of addiction.” In their article on the shame of addiction, the NCBI describe addiction as a “person-level phenomenon that involves twin normative failures,” including a “failure of normal rational, effective agency or self-control with respect to the substance,” and “the failure to live up to the standards for a good life.” While published as recently as 2013, this article feels very outdated regarding treating any addiction as a form of failure. Their point, though, is to describe how those “failures,” for lack of a better word, can motivate individuals to embark on a journey to recovery. 

Addiction is an illness that affects millions of people. Individuals should not feel like their suffering is a failure on their part; however, it is common that they think otherwise and harshly criticize themselves. What you can do is learn how to channel those feelings of shame into your recovery. Accepting your past mistakes can be both daunting and liberating. It can be triggering to think about those past decisions, but accepting them, learning how to move on from them, and most importantly, how to grow from them can be incredibly freeing and liberating.

Channeling Anger Away 

According to the Better Health Channel, anger can have detrimental physical and mental effects on a person. Anger can manifest itself in physical health issues such as: 

  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Insomnia
  • Increased symptoms of mental illness (such as anxiety and depression)
  • High blood pressure
  • More severe effects like a heart attack or stroke

To avoid these effects of anger on your body, it is important to learn how to actively channel feelings of anger, and any negative feelings in general, into either creative, productive, or health outlets. Some of those methods may include: 

  • Fitness and physical activity
  • Painting, playing music, or any other form of artistic expression
  • Talking it through with a trusted friend or loved one
  • Journaling everything you are feeling and thinking in order to release those emotions 

Finding a way to channel your anger is great, but professional help may be needed in some circumstances. Many attend anger management classes and even go to group or individual therapy to learn how to better control feelings of overwhelming anger. Taking these professional measures may even be more necessary if you are struggling with addiction or mental illnesses. Without professional help or healthy outlets, negative emotions like anger can be triggering, putting your treatment and recovery in jeopardy. 

Practicing Self-Forgiveness

Learning to practice self-forgiveness can be easier said than done. Some ways you may try include: 

  • Practicing meditation and mindfulness
  • Taking on new hobbies to fill up the time you may have spent criticizing yourself
  • Similar to channeling anger, you may consider journaling to put all your thoughts and feelings on paper, allowing you to look at things from a different perspective

Again, individuals experiencing feelings of shame and guilt due to their addiction should learn to practice acceptance and self-forgiveness. Maybe your addiction affected your family, your job or prevented you from fulfilling many responsibilities in your life. The beauty of the past, though, is that it is in the past. You may not be able to change the past, but you can certainly learn from it and allow yourself to move on. Over time people you may have hurt will learn to forgive you, but recovery requires you to be able to forgive yourself as well.

At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, we have the tools and means to help you in your path to recovery. Part of that path includes dealing with anger, shame, guilt, and learning to channel those feelings while practicing self-forgiveness. Your time during treatment may be filled with intense situations of coming to terms with your past mistakes. This may be the perfect time to tackle any past demons you have because you are surrounded by a support group of capable professionals and compassionate peers. You can focus on learning to cope, anger management, and working through feelings of shame during your individual or group sessions, as well as while working in-depth with your individual case manager. Our team of case managers is here to help you with any goals you may want to achieve when entering into treatment as well. If you or someone you love is struggling with similar issues, we encourage you to call us at (877) 762-3707 today.