How do I deal with feelings of shame surrounding my drinking?
Have you ever woken up in the morning after a night's drinking with a feeling of dread, embarrassment, shame and regret?
You are not alone. From drunken texts, emotional outbursts, arguments, risky sexual behaviour, or putting ourselves in dangerous situations I am sure we all have some outrageous stories to share, I know I have.
So often we use alcohol to ‘loosen up’ or to deal with social anxiety. Of course, the problem with alcohol is that after just one or two drinks our judgement becomes impaired, and we behave in a way we never would dream of when sober.
Why do I feel shame?
When our behaviour does not align with our core values as a human that is when the feelings of shame and self-loathing kick in. For instance, if one of your core values is that you are trustworthy and loyal, but you had a drunken kiss with somebody other than your partner, that's not going to sit well with you. Or if you consider yourself as somebody that is kind, but you got drunk and told your BFF all of the things that annoy you about her, you are always going to feel at odds with yourself.
The issue of feelings of shame and guilt over our drinking behaviour so often keeps us stuck in the toxic cycle of drinking to forget. Sometimes it can reach the point that we are drinking to forget who we are because of feelings of self-loathing.
So how do we learn to forgive ourselves and move on?
In early sobriety, self-loathing and shame can feel overwhelming, but the great news is that as you move forward in this new life, you will find love and compassion for yourself that you've probably never experienced, and here is how.
Do not try to rationalise your drunken behaviour
Trying to rationalise what has happened when we are drunk is pointless, the fact is, our judgement was impaired by the poison we had consumed. There is no rationalising it.
Accept that what has happened on focus on the future
You cannot change the past but you can change your behaviour going forward.
Pretend that you were talking to a friend
So often we are the hardest on ourselves and are much more forgiving of others. Imagine a friend had asked for your forgiveness, the chances are you would show them some grace, so show yourself the same kindness
The best apology is to change behaviour
If you had a friend or partner who apologised for their behaviour but then continues to repeat the same behaviour over and over, you would soon get sick of them, and you are no
different, changed behaviour going forward from this point is THE most powerful way to forgive ourselves. We cannot change the past, but we can change our future.
Focus on what qualities and actions you are proud of
Every day, list 3 qualities that you do love about yourself, remember….where your focus goes, your focus grows, so with time, you can learn to see the good in you.
Is there a difference between regret and shame? Absolutely, regret is the feeling that something you have done is wrong, and shame is a feeling that you yourself is wrong