Feelings of regret are not uncommon in recovery. Emotions are high for many people and vary widely over the course of the journey. Looking back on the choices a person made while addicted to drugs and alcohol can bring up difficult emotions, including regret. Learning to navigate these feelings in a positive way can boost a person’s recovery rather than derail their efforts and build shame and resentment.
Why Regret Matters
The whole brain and body can be impacted by feelings of regret. Because it brings up other feelings of shame, blame, and even anxiety, it might stress a person to feel regret in their journey of recovery. Many people try to understand why they did by looking back over all the time they spend addicted to drugs or alcohol to figure out what happened. Even when there may be an opportunity to go back and make amends, regret can still linger and cause some challenges for the person who spends time looking back.
While people who feel regret too much can experience more negative emotions, in retrospect, when people understand why they did certain actions or behaviors in their life, they are more likely to feel connected to their recovery journey. Introspection and reflection are part of the experience, as well as looking back to move ahead. Sometimes, this manifests itself as feeling less pain, changes to behavior that leads to a more positive outcome, and learning from past mistakes to make things better. To make it a positive experience, people can look at regret as:
- A necessary part of the journey of recovery
- A way of self-regulated the overwhelming emotions that come up
- Finding support for coping including therapy, exercise, or mindfulness activities
- Acceptance of what happened in the past and releasing yourself from knowing everything there is to know about it
- Letting go of ‘if only’ and ‘should have’ thoughts around wanting to change the path taken
- Learning to understand the past only to a certain point as no life can be totally lived without regret
- Apologizing and making amends, then letting go
Feeling too much regret can kill the experience of recovery because it keeps a person stuck in an old mindset. It begins to eat away at a person to think they should have done this or tried that or done this other thing and the lost opportunities and chances to pile up in their mind. Regret can cause depressive thoughts rather than positive ones in recovery. When a person does their work in recovery, it is okay over time to continue letting go of the past so as to experience a future that is waiting for them.
Oceanfront understands the power of regret in recovery. We are here to support your journey of healing and help you navigate the experience more fully as you seek help for addiction. With highly trained therapists on staff, we will help you detox, enter recovery, and find a way forward from regret to healing. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295