Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gratitude in Recovery Often Equals Guilt

Thanksgiving day got me thinking about gratitude lists. Often when we are feeling sorry for ourselves it can be helpful to inventory all the things we have to be grateful for. For the alcoholic/addict however, the more they have to be grateful for, the more guilty they feel. Often the belief that they are unworthy of all that is good keeps them from the Sober Mind they seek.

I once saw a sign in a drug rehab that said, "Guilt Kills". At the time I didn't understand what that meant. Today I know that guilt is dangerous for the alcoholic/addict to indulge in because for them, guilt feelings are not limited to the negative things they have done. Along with the feeling of worthlessness, they often believe they have no right to even the air they breath. The disease of addition/alcoholism distorts their thinking and makes it difficult to appreciate the gifts life has given them. This might lead them to drink or act out in some way.

Awareness and honesty are critical to putting our guilt feelings in perspective. Sometimes we agree to do things we don't want to do out of some real or perceived guilt. The result is resentment. It is important first to be aware of the distorted thinking and then not to minimize or exaggerate our past and/or present behaviors. One way to do that is make a guilt list and a review it honestly. Own the things you have done and find a way to make amends. Then make a gratitude list and appreciate all that is good about yourself.

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