Addiction is a crippling disease impacting people in many ways. It hurts families, damages self-esteem, and can create ripples of pain throughout work and home. Sometimes the pain comes from poor decisions made under the influence. Sometimes pain comes when loved ones seem to give up on or abandon the person who needs help.
As damaging as addiction is, there’s power in forgiveness. Those who learn to forgive may find that sobriety feels lighter and that their overall health improves.
Consider the Value of Self-Forgiveness
A good starting point for someone in addiction recovery is to forgive oneself. Self-forgiveness is a challenge for anyone, even those not battling a chronic health condition. Most people go through life with guilt or shame about something they’ve done that led to a bad outcome. Overcoming guilt is an essential skill to learn because, without a doubt, you will make mistakes and struggle with the repercussions of those decisions.
When you forgive yourself, you recognize that everyone struggles at times but that your path towards addiction recovery is helping you to right the wrong and make things better. You’re making up for any damage you caused to yourself.
Why do you have to forgive, though? What difference does it make to take that step? In recovery, you may be looking back and regretting all sorts of decisions you made. Here’s why it’s so important to forgive and move beyond:
- Addiction and guilt or shame are often linked. You’re at a higher risk of relapse if you don’t make the decision to forgive.
- The pain of guilt can impact your ability and willingness to make big decisions in the future. That could mean you don’t embrace life as you should.
- Without forgiveness for yourself, you may continue to hold onto that shame and pain, which could impact your self-esteem. You may not feel you deserve sobriety.
- Admitting your failures through forgiveness allows you to move beyond the limitations created by those actions. You’re no longer defined by what you did.
- It’s healthier emotionally and mentally, not just for yourself but in your relationships, to learn how to overcome pain and forgive.
How to Practice Self-Forgiveness After Addiction
Knowing the importance of forgiveness, you may be wondering exactly what to do to achieve that. How do you forgive yourself in action? Here’s what to focus on.
- Write down what you did. You cannot fully forgive yourself until you can admit to yourself what you feel as though you failed at. It sounds simple, but in most situations, it’s a difficult step. After all, it’s much easier to ignore those painful decisions. But true freedom comes when you can overcome the fear of your past and fully acknowledge what has led to your feelings of shame and guilt.
- Know that forgiveness isn’t something other people need to offer to you. While you may want others to forgive you for the pain you have caused, their forgiveness is not necessary for your sense of happiness and freedom. Focus on forgiving yourself first.
- Focus on the core components of forgiveness. These are Responsibility, Remorse, Restoration, and Renewal. Accept what’s happened, and don’t make excuses for it. Then, recognize that you feel bad for it. Work towards righting the wrongs you’ve committed when you can do so. Finally, learn from the experience so you don’t face this situation again.
You can do this type of forgiveness work with your addiction therapist. Your goal is to really examine what you feel, why, and what’s occurred since then.
Why do you feel it is so hard to forgive yourself?
Apply the same logic to people in your life who hurt you. Learn to recognize that the pain they caused is still doing damage to your life right now as long as you carry it. By forgiving them, you free yourself from the pain they are continuously inflicting on you for your own thoughts.
Forgiveness Changes Futures
Forgiveness takes some time. You may be so angry right now at another person that you don’t think you can forgive. Over time, you will learn how to forgive and move on. As you do, you’ll feel a part of you change. Instead of hanging on to what other people think of you, you can start to feel proud of the hard work you’re doing to overcome challenges and move forward.
You can love who you are and embrace a new version of yourself in addiction recovery. It’s possible to forgive and stop thinking about the pain. To do that, embrace treatment as a first step. It’s more powerful than you realize.
Get started now by learning more about how we can help you at Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, AZ. We’re committed to supporting your future.