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What is the Reason for Toxic Guilt (and How Can I Reclaim My Life from It)?

What is the Reason for Toxic Guilt (and How Can I Reclaim My Life from It)?

Toxic guilt is unreasonable guilt a person feels for things that they can’t control. It usually comes from trauma in childhood from what is called self-referencing. A child will blame themselves when something goes wrong in the home that had nothing to do with being their fault. Children see themselves as the center of the universe and take on responsibility for things going on. Later in life, this shows up as toxic guilt and shame. Knowing where it comes from is a good starting place to reclaim your life from it.

Guilt and Shame

Feelings of guilt sit in our unconscious mind and float to the surface when we least expect it. This can really get in the way of making progress and change because it is heavy. It weighs a lot, that guilt hanging around, always just ready to surface at any time. Like depression, toxic guilt saps people’s energy which means you will feel like you’re in survival mode all the time. When you spend your time fighting off feelings of shame and guilt, there is less time (or none) to try and make changes going forward.

Legitimate Guilt

Legitimate guilt is guilt which happens as a result of something you do but do not forgive yourself for, which turns toxic. In sobriety, you can make amends to people, but still feel guilty. Out of guilt you may let others take advantage of you or take advantage of others. With some transformative work in recovery, you can learn how to exchange guilt for remorse and move on with your life.

Moving Forward

The counterpoint to toxic guilt is positive reinforcement. You really want to counter free-floating feelings of guilt with awareness of the truth that you are not to blame for your childhood. It is not your burden to carry to feel guilty for the rest of your life for things that happened before you were in recovery, or even yesterday. Forgiveness is about letting go of the things you’ve done so you can be free to continue growing and doing better in the future. Do not act on toxic guilt. It just leads to further unhealthy behaviors, and may even lead to relapse in recovery. To keep yourself healthy, you can:

  • Seek spiritual practices which help you focus on presence and forgiveness
  • Practice daily positive reinforcement of strategies that will help you let go
  • Find accountability partners to support your journey

Connect with professional counselors who can help you navigate difficult, hard to get past challenges in recovery

You will never find yourself in recovery if you let your heart and life be burdened with guilt and shame. Now is the time to learn how to let that go, a little at a time. Serenity Detox is here to support your journey to healing from addiction. We can help you find what you need. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401