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Of The Heart

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2019

In recovery work, we learn a lot about toxic shame. Toxic shame is the feeling that we are deeply flawed, inadequate, and therefore, unworthy of being accepted and loved. Toxic shame is like being plunged into darkness, with a very limited view of yourself and your abilities. Even worse, it hijacks your sense of being accepted, and so you resort to staying in the dark versus reaching for connection.  Like being stuck in deep mud, it takes work to be pulled out and redirected when we are in shame. There is another form of self-evaluation that is much more productive and gives rise to a desire for change. This feeling is called guilt. When we feel guilt, we are aware that our actions do not match our values. Unlike shame that makes us feel inadequate and stuck, guilt spurs a sense that we are motivated for change. Guilt is a connecting emotion: When we feel guilt, we know that our actions are incongruent with our values. So does addiction affect our ability to feel guilty? Yes, it does, but the good news is that as recovery takes place, we re-connect to our values and to empathy. It becomes easier to access a sense of guilt when a mistake is made, and we feel more capable of getting back on track. When we feel the shift of our values and a stronger sense of empathy and compassion, we call this a change of heart. You’ve probably heard the adage, “you can’t serve two masters.” Well, without a heart change, or a change of being, it becomes impossible to make a long-term change in what we are doing. Allow your heart change to happen. It will mean saying goodbye to things like lust, bitter resentment, shame, isolation, and unworthiness. It will mean embracing connection, congruency, acceptance, and that you are worthy of something better.  Dr. Mark Laaser explained it this way, “In healing from sexual addiction, if all we do is defend, we grow tired and discouraged. We must also build into our lives new behaviors, attitudes, relationships, and spirituality. We are building new lives, new marriages, and we are always searching for new and deeper ways to connect to God and others. We need to be just as accountable to do the good- rebuilding- as we are accountable to refrain from doing the behaviors we hate.” Wishing you the very best in your recovery! – Amy Cluff, LCSW


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