Forgiveness is an essential part of addiction recovery, but if you are like many other people, you may find it much easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. After all, you are the person who has done the most harm in your life. Letting go of anger and bitterness can be one of the most difficult things to do.
Why You Should Forgive Yourself
When you were at the depths of your addiction, you may have done some pretty shameful things. Some people steal to fuel their addictions, lie about their activities or even cheat on their spouses. Or, maybe you dropped out of school, got fired from a job or wrecked some of the most important relationships with people you care about.
As you reflect on these mistakes you’ve made, you may wish you could go back in time and undo them. However, there’s no way to change the past. If you continue holding on to these feelings of remorse, you won’t be able to move forward and heal.
Addiction is a chronic illness, not a moral failing. Just because you’ve done things you’re not proud of, it doesn’t make you a bad person. You have been sick for a long time, and now you deserve to give yourself every opportunity to recover.
If there’s anything you can do to make amends to the people you hurt, such as paying back money you stole, an essential part of recovery involves taking those steps. But when there’s no tangible way to make up for things you’ve done, continuing to beat yourself up will hold you back from making progress in your recovery. For many addicts, self-destructive thoughts and behavior are very real relapse triggers. The best way to make it up to your loved ones is to commit to staying sober.
How to Forgive Yourself
There are many constructive and healthy ways to forgive yourself. For example, even though it’s impossible to go back in time, the next best thing is to make a list of things you wish you could change, then write out how you would do things differently this time. Doing this helps you assert what you’ve learned from your mistakes. Writing things down can also be highly therapeutic as a way of sorting out your feelings.
It’s also crucial to have someone with a listening ear to talk to when your negativity starts to take over. Individual and group therapy will help relieve the intense feelings of shame over things you said or did when your addiction was at its worst.
Also, develop a habit of giving yourself credit for the progress you’ve made, one day at a time. Every day, you’ve made positive steps that have helped you become a better person. Take time to recognize and reward yourself for your efforts to achieve sobriety and rediscover a new lifestyle. Though you will never be perfect, even small steps count as progress.
Being in recovery gives you the freedom to choose a new life that won’t harm the people you love. You can never alter your past behavior, but if you strive to forgive yourself for the mistakes and bad choices you’ve made, it will empower you to make the right decisions in the future.
If you need help for substance misuse, contact us at New Found Life 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a qualified addiction treatment facility in Long Beach, CA, we are here to get you into recovery.