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Taking back our power from shame

Addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful, something I learned in the treatment center 28 years ago when I was first getting sober. It’s a common slogan in 12-Step programs because it’s true. And one of the most cunning aspects of the disease process is the shame spiral we fall into when we are using our self-medication of choice.

We feel ashamed because we can’t stop the behavior (overeating, bingeing, drinking, shopping) and that shame so erodes our confidence and determination that we go on doing whatever it is we would like to stop doing. We may think the food or alcohol is running us, but it’s really shame. We’ve given our power to shame.

In order to protect our abstinence or to step back into it if we’ve gone back to self-medicating, we need to change our response to shame. We may not be able to control its occurrence, but we can refuse to use it to relapse. We can refuse to participate in the cycle of shame → eating → more shame → more eating. We can offer each other support in releasing our shame in helpful ways and moving back into abstinence.

What has helped you step out of the shame cycle?

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