As active alcoholics and addicts we did many things that we weren’t proud of. When we entered sobriety, we finally put down our drug of choice. That was a truly wonderful thing. The problem was that we carried around remnants from our days of using. These often manifested themselves as guilt. Even after an extended period of sobriety, we still had strong feelings of shame. We continued to have obsessive thoughts about events from long ago. Although others had long forgotten those actions, they were still front and center in our mind.
What changed for us was that at meetings we began to hear people speak about their gratitude. They too had done things in the past which they regretted. By going through the steps they had made their amends where possible and had moved on. Their focus was now on the present. Many of them had a daily practice of making a gratitude list. We decided to follow their example.
Over time many of those obsessive thoughts of guilt and shame dissipated. Since we could only keep one thought in our mind at it time, it made sense to us to make that thought one of gratitude. Even when we had guilty thoughts about current actions, we learned to let go of them as well.
Personal Reflection: Do I chose gratitude over guilt?