Take a moment to step back and think about all of the work you’ve done during your drug and alcohol treatment thus far. It’s incredible how much you have changed yourself to accomplish sobriety because you want and deserve a better future.
Now, think about why you are here. What brought you to this point? Did you feel overwhelmed by anxiety or sadness? Did someone hurt you, causing trauma to you that allowed you to start using drugs or alcohol? Perhaps you have some guilt and shame about your own actions. You’re wondering how you can let go of that pain.
Forgiveness in addiction is very important. It could be one of the most important things you do for yourself. It’s anything but easy, but with an understanding of how and why to forgive, you’ll see that it may be well worth your investment.
Why Does Forgiveness Matter to Your Addiction Recovery?
Pain, guilt, shame, and despair from past actions and experiences can change your future. When you cannot forgive, it weighs on you and may lead to negative outcomes. For some people, that lack of forgiveness puts them on the path to relapse simply because of how painful it is. It can impact physical and emotional health.
When you cannot forgive someone for their past actions, it impacts your life in multiple ways:
- You hate being around that person. It bothers you no matter what.
- It may be hard to spend time with people who support or love that person, even knowing what they have done to you.
- When you cannot forgive yourself, you keep yourself from enjoying a better quality of life. You may even be punishing yourself without realizing it.
When you recognize a need to forgive yourself or someone else, you can start on the path to doing so.
How Do You Forgive Yourself?
A good starting point is to focus on self-forgiveness. Do you have things in your past that feel too painful to think about? Maybe you’re embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty when you think of these things. These events are still impacting your life now. Here are a few steps to forgiving yourself.
#1: Make Amends
Often the pain you feel about your past comes from work that’s left undone. Perhaps you feel pain because you stole money from someone for your drug purchase. You may have said some pretty bad things while you were using or going through withdrawal. Make amends. Write a letter, have a conversation, or simply tell someone you’re sorry for what you did.
#2: Journal About It
Take the time to journal about what happened, what you feel now, and what you wish you could change. It’s not always possible or appropriate to verbally apologize to someone you’ve hurt. In that case, focus on forgiving yourself. Write down everything you feel, outlining what happened without making excuses for yourself.
#3: Work to Improve Yourself
The best way to work through shame and guilt over your drug or alcohol use is to heal from it. Make a commitment to yourself to overcome your addiction and to maintain the road to recovery. This commitment to your future is well worth the work.
How Do You Forgive Others?
One thing about forgiving others is that it’s not about them. You don’t have to wait for them to accept it. You don’t even have to tell them outright that you forgive them. This is about forgiving them so you can move on. How do you do that?
#1: Recognize the Pain It’s Causing You
If someone hurt you and you haven’t forgiven them, they are still hurting you. That is, their actions, no matter how long ago they were, are still impacting you and your life. When you forgive them, you release the bond they have over you.
#2: Write It Out
Sometimes the best way to overcome the pain you feel is to let it all out. It’s not wise to scream and yell at someone (though you can certainly do that in private if it helps). Instead, write down what they did, how it impacted you, and how you’ve overcome the situation. How has it made you a stronger person?
#3: Stop Looking for the Why
Often, when trying to forgive people for the trauma they caused in your life, you may be searching for a “why.” Why did this happen? Why did they do this to you? Why did they not help you? Unfortunately, they don’t know, and you may never know. Recognize you don’t need to understand that to move on.
Finding Help in Working Through Pain
Sometimes it’s not so easy to work through forgiveness like this. That’s why having a trusted professional to help you could be critical. At English Mountain Recovery in Tennessee, we’re happy to support you. Contact us today to learn more.