One of the most popular and effective approaches to addiction recovery is the Twelve Step program, originally created as the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that is now used by multiple addiction programs around the world. It can be hugely helpful to follow the guidance of the steps, and one of the most powerful ones is the process of taking moral inventory of ourselves. This step can be a daunting and overwhelming one. It can even be scary and painful.
It requires a great deal of strength, courage, honesty and humility to undertake the process of taking our own moral inventory. It pushes us out of our comfort zone of denial and avoidance. We get accustomed to not thinking about our mistakes and wrongdoings because the weight of the shame and regret can feel like too much to bear. We bury it all deep down within us, under layers of addictive behaviors, toxic thought patterns, self-destruction and unhealthy relationships. We tend to be in denial for so long we can forget it’s all there, but eventually it resurfaces, often returning to cause us even more pain because it has accumulated and worsened after years of suppression.
Make the choice to confront yourself and your past. Be brave. Work with a therapist or spiritual guide, and use writing as a therapeutic tool, to help you list your values and the ways in which you have lived up to those values or fallen short. Every single one of us is imperfect and won’t always live by our moral compass. It’s human nature to make mistakes, to have regrets and to feel ashamed of ourselves. We get to make the choice whether we want to dwell in our pain and keep allowing it to hurt us more, or take the lessons from our mistakes and use them as fuel to move forward and do better. There is no mistake we can’t learn from, and it’s never too late to implement changes in our lives.
We can take steps to redirect our lives in a positive direction once we’ve taken inventory of our qualities and the ways in which those qualities exemplify our values. The ways in which we’ve lived up to the values that are important to us are our sources of strength. We should be proud of them. We can allow them to cushion the blow of the things we might be disappointed in or ashamed of. Have patience with yourself as you work through your inventory list. Give yourself positive encouragement to make the changes that will help you to do better, and to feel even more self-assured and proud of yourself.
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