Looking Back – Coping With Past Mistakes


One of the most challenging parts of recovery is looking back and addressing past mistakes. Guilt and shame can be ever-present feelings through recovery, and reflecting on one’s lowest point can add more depression or anxiety into an already complicated process. However, it is important to acknowledge these past mistakes to begin moving through them and contextualizing what it means to see success. 

Coping with one’s past may be one of the most difficult parts of recovery, and reconciling relationships and forgiving oneself can take a lot of time and effort. While difficult, it can also be one of the most potent and transformative parts of each person’s recovery story, and looking back is just the first step in learning to look forward to a brighter, sober future. 

Accepting Mistakes

“Everyone makes mistakes” may be a cliched phrase, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Regardless of what mistakes a person has made, mistakes are one of the things that can bring people together. Whether a person feels guilty about what they said to another, made an error at work, slept in past a meeting, or even made mistakes that led to legal ramifications, mistakes can form each individual’s own story with addiction and recovery. 

Not everyone will make the same mistakes, and how feelings of guilt, shame and regret, may look different in each person. However, confronting these feelings and their cause is essential to process one’s past properly. Whether or not a person has forgiven themselves for their mistakes in recovery, accepting that mistakes happen can help them be more open to acknowledging their past and using their experiences to connect with others and create a safe, healthy recovery community.

Setting a Baseline

Looking back on one’s life isn’t meant to instill feelings of shame or guilt, even if they are commonly associated with painful memories. Instead, looking back on past mistakes is intended to help each individual set their baseline when going through recovery. Painful memories can help a person better understand their lifestyle or outlook on what the world was like before they began their journey to sobriety. This baseline can help an individual fairly measure their progress through recovery. While a person may look back on how addiction has negatively affected their relationships, it can also help them realize the importance of a single step towards recovering this relationship with a loved one. Looking back can contextualize success and can help each individual understand the weight of every positive step they take in the recovery process. 

Defining Your Own Story

Recovery is a personal journey, and each individual will experience addiction and the recovery process differently. Even if a person still feels guilty about them, one’s mistakes are an essential part of realizing a person’s individuality. Recovery is a practice that encourages each person to seek out their own personal identities to help them understand what they want out of their lives. While mistakes are unfortunate, they can also help inform a person of the most significant changes throughout the process. They can help a person realize the most important relationships and the freedoms they cherish most, then incorporate this information into an effective recovery plan. Acknowledging mistakes as part of one’s story can help each person begin to accept and move through these mistakes and help them continue to define their identity and accept themselves through the process. 

Realizing What Was Not Lost

Coping with past mistakes isn’t just about confronting one’s guilt. It is also an exercise in finding the silver linings that may be present throughout otherwise difficult memories. Thinking about past mistakes can be further explored as a person recalls more and more information about a particular event and can help illustrate what effect these errors had on a person’s life. Discovering how many people were and were not affected by each mistake contextualizes them and appropriately addresses their reconciliation and forgiveness. Guilt can be overpowering, but seeing that support is still present can help each person further treasure relationships or prioritize different aspects of their recovery based on how their mistakes objectively affected their lives. While guilt and shame can make the entire world feel overwhelming, finding a glimmer can open an entirely new path to forgiveness and outlook on the future. 

Coping with regret, guilt and the ramifications of addiction can be an overwhelming experience, and looking at past mistakes can take an enormous emotional toll. However, acknowledging these mistakes can help each person become more honest with themselves and create a plan that is pertinent to their unique situation. At Avalon Malibu, we can help you create a personalized approach to your recovery to address your unique needs and goals in recovery. We offer detox services, residential care, intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs to help you manage your struggles with addiction in a way that best helps you. Our varied therapeutic approaches, including yoga, meditation, art therapy, music therapy and even our seasonal ropes courses, can all help you create an individualized recovery plan based on your interests and goals. For more information on how we can help create a program that is pertinent to you, call to talk to one of our caring, trained staff members today at (844) 857-5992.

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