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Many people suffer more from regret than any other consequence when it comes to addiction. The wish to have the past be different is natural, but it’s also futile and self-defeating. However, if you’re sad about past behavior, there are some things you can do to make use of your mistakes. This is what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous means when it says, “We do not regret the past or wish to turn our backs on it.” You’ve done nothing that can’t be turned into some form of helping others.

Reclaim Your Mind

Most of our mistakes are made when we give away our power. We know right from wrong, but someone or something causes us to veer away from our conscience. It’s as though a piece of bait passes before us, and we latch on and get hooked without a second thought. This is particularly true with addiction.

To reclaim your mind, you must realize that it’s been hijacked in the first place. We’ve all been at the effect of taking the bait and the high that compels us to keep wanting more and more. Remembering the consequences instead of the superficial benefit will keep you attached to reality instead of illusions. Recognizing you’ve been duped into selling your soul for a momentary escape from reality will remind you to refrain from your addiction. The biggest takeaway is that you remain in command of your own control center rather than giving over to someone or something else that doesn’t give two hoots about you or your life.

Help Others

The best way to get over a mistake is to use those experiences to help others. This doesn’t mean that you try to manage anyone. Instead, you share your stories and explain what happened and how you learned to make better decisions. Most people learn best from listening to others rather than being told what to do. The former inspires, and the latter creates resistance.

Have you ever watched a movie and felt lifted from the message? That’s because you saw the conflict, the resolution, and the solution. The protagonist was faced with a decision, do the easy thing, or take the high road – even when it meant a more challenging route. When your focus is on helping others, you’re not traveling alone. Your life has meaning. You also won’t be ruminating over the unfairness of life or why things aren’t working out as you’d like. Focusing on being of service instead of being served is the road to receiving our dreams. But it’s at the right time, not our time.

Forgive Yourself

This is where many people get stuck. They feel that their choices and decisions are so horrendous that they are unforgivable. No matter how badly we may have hurt someone, it’s important to acknowledge our mistakes and do what we can to heal those harms. But once we do what we can to make up for the hurt caused, we must practice forgiveness. If not, we are destined to feel so poorly about ourselves that we increase our chances of relapsing. If you can’t live with your mistakes, you can’t live sober. Self-loathing and regret do not serve any useful purpose besides keeping you stuck in a maze. The only way out of that trap is to let go of the past, and to remember why you never want to go there again.

You’re here for a reason, and it’s not to suffer or regret your past. When your heart is in the right place, you aren’t indulging in self-pity. When you focus on sharing and receiving love instead of fear and guilt, all blocks can be removed to fulfill your dreams.

Join our movement.

Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

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