I had a strange thought last night after having some conversations with a group of not very successful recovering alcoholics. It was funny because it was kind of a flashback to my late teens. Something that had not crossed my mind in almost 50 years.
I was raised Catholic with all the guilt that goes with it. As a young man going out into the world and experiencing new things I was often faced with moral delemnas. Sometimes it involved being part of a group or gang that would do things I didn't feel moraly good about or sometimes just moral choices I would have to make about activities I was exposed to. The flashback involved a method of logic I would entertain. The logic was that if I were to just continue this behavior I would harden up and it would no longer bother me. This often meant actively pursuing this bad behavior to speed up the hardening process. It didn't take me long to figure out that my best option was to simply accept that I did wrong make a commitment to never do it again and move on with maybe some minor guilt but basicaly forgive myself and just accept it as a learning experience.
Now this comes back to the conversation with the alcoholics. These were a group from about 35 to 55 years old. They were still repeating the same bad behaviors and then drinking to deal with the guilt. It made me wonder if they were not using the same logic I had enetertained as a young man or if they were just driven by self centered compulsions for instant gratification. Guilt and shame can be a powerful influence in ones life.