Treatment often involves identifying and processing underlying issues that contribute to the development of substance use disorder (SUD). Some people have difficulty living with the consequences of actions made during or after instances of substance misuse. You might struggle with mistakes you have made in the past.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), actions that cause yourself or others distress can have lasting consequences. “[M]oral injury can occur in response to acting or witnessing behaviors that go against an individual’s values and moral beliefs.” Often, they lead to regret, fear, anger, shame, or other negative emotions. You do not have to let things you have done in the past dictate your future choices or happiness. The experts at Newport Beach Recovery Center use evidence-based methods to help individuals accept past choices, overcome trauma, and move forward in their recovery.
Mistakes Can Motivate Your Recovery
Motivation is essential to establishing and maintaining healthy routines that support long-term sobriety. According to the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, “Behavior can be motivated by the desire to avoid future feelings of guilt.” You can avoid repeating maladaptive patterns by learning to identify unhealthy behaviors. You replace those unhealthy behavioral patterns with new routines. The emotional distress caused by past choices can give you the determination to become a better version of yourself.
Finding a reason to do better and building positive routines can enhance the effectiveness of treatment. Healthy motivations also do the following:
- Help you get through difficult moments in recovery
- Provide you with the determination to actively participate in treatment and therapy
- Give you a reason to continue making progress in ongoing recovery
Mistakes you have made can also reveal underlying issues that contributed to the development of SUD. Self-reflection increases self-awareness and allows you to address problems that might impact your recovery. Recognizing their influence on your thoughts and behaviors will give you a starting point for lifelong changes.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
You are not alone in regretting past choices. Everyone lives with mistakes and must find a healthy way to accept them and move forward. In many cases, pain caused by mistakes can become a vital learning moment and a turning point. Moral injury does not have to keep you from growing and healing.
Every single person alive has done things they wish they could take back. Normalizing your experiences can help you move past them and avoid repeating them in the future. You can look to peers, mentors, sponsors, and members of your support system for insight into how they overcame their own regrets or shame. Use the lessons they have learned to protect yourself from experiencing the same negativity in the future.
How to Move Past Mistakes
Moving past mistakes does not mean ignoring that they happened or pretending you do not deserve the consequences. Everyone must live with the side effects of the actions they take. However, you can learn from the experience and find better ways to act moving forward. How you choose to respond to your mistakes will affect your mental health, recovery, and relationships.
You can remove the guilt of past mistakes by doing the following:
- Processing your feelings about it in individual or group therapy
- Meditating or using mindfulness techniques to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed by past mistakes
- Determining what actions lead to the mistake and developing strategies for avoiding those behaviors
- Recognizing that you have grown as a person and choosing not to repeat the mistake
Speak with a loved one, therapist, or sponsor about your feelings. An outside perspective can often make recognizing unhealthy thought patterns easier. Talking to others can give you another view on the topic and encourage you to find healthier options for the future.
Letting Go of Guilt, Shame, and Regret
Negative emotions like guilt, shame, and regret do not have to linger and interfere with your recovery. You can accept them as a consequence of your actions and then choose to let them go. Sometimes it takes support from loved ones, peers, or a mental health professional to accomplish this goal. Forgiving yourself does not have to mean giving up responsibility for your actions. However, it does allow you to find a way to feel comfortable with your circumstances and choices.
Your past does not have to dictate your future choices or sense of self-worth. In fact, you can use them as motivation to guide your actions and improve your mental health. Use them as tools for healing. Newport Beach Recovery Center uses group and individual therapy to empower clients and give them the skills they need to grow. Your moral injury does not define you. Recovery is about finding new ways to think about yourself and interact with the world. Letting go of past mistakes is one step in that journey.
Negative emotions can interfere with your mental health during rehabilitation. However, you do not have to continue struggling if you find yourself obsessively feeling bad about past mistakes or actions. Shame, guilt, regret, and other painful and distressing emotions often indicate the need for positive changes. You can use them as motivation to continue making progress in your recovery. Let go of past mistakes by accepting them as learning experiences. Newport Beach Recovery Center offers evidence-based treatments to help clients heal. You can learn to move forward from the past and build a better future. We can help you find healthy ways to cope with the choices you have made. To learn more, call us today at (888) 850-0363.