Addictions and other afflictions of the human heart and mind tend to cloud a person's emotional state. When we become an addict or commit a misdeed, we can often find ourselves full of resentment. This resentment can turn to anger, and soon we find ourselves hanging onto a vast repertoire of grudges. Learning how to move away from this anger is a key step in being able to enter into a state of sobriety. The key component to the latter state of being resides in your ability to forgive yourself, as well as the other people in your life.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is often defined as the deliberate or conscious decision to release feelings of vengeance or resentment towards a person, group, or yourself, regardless of whether these individuals deserve your forgiveness. In learning to truly understand what it means to forgive, we must first determine what forgiveness is not. It is not glossing over or denying the seriousness of a committed offense. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness does not mean excusing past offenses.
Now that we have established what forgiveness is not, let us focus on what it is.
- Forgiveness brings peace to the forgiver
- Forgiveness allows you to let go of resentment, anger, and grudges
- Forgiveness removes deeply negative emotions from your being
- Forgiveness allows you to recognize the pain that you have suffered, but it does not let the pain define you
- Forgiveness heals
Why Is It Dangerous to Your Sobriety Not to Forgive - Forgiveness Is For You, Not Them
On the road to addiction recovery, forgiveness is one of the first stops. Failing to forgive can be dangerous to your sobriety. If you do not forgive then you are more likely to relapse, due to your continued inability to escape from the feelings of shame and resentment. An inability to forgive, can lead you to:
- Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience, including your newly found sobriety.
- Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the small steps that you are taking on the road to addiction recovery.
- Become depressed or anxious, which could cause you to relapse.
- Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, which could cause you to once again abuse substances.
- Lose relationships with the people who are supporting you on your road to an addiction-free life.
Why It Is Important to Forgive Yourself During Addiction Recovery?
Forgiving yourself is an important step to recovery. If you can forgive yourself, then your heart and mental health can begin to health. In fact, Stanford University recently embarked on a study to show how forgiveness can enhance your mind, body, and spirit, as well as interpersonal relationships. Additionally, forgiving yourself will allow you to let go of negative emotions. You will no longer feel angry at past mistakes, and you will stop blaming yourself for your addiction. When you forgive yourself, you open yourself up to new vulnerabilities. Learning how to deal with this new state of being will better prepare you for future interactions, disappointments, and offenses; it will teach you that it is ok to forgive both yourself and others, while still maintaining your beliefs.
How Do You Forgive Yourself?
Forgiving yourself is an individual journey. With this in mind, you will need to discover what works best for you. Below we have gathered together a few steps that might help you on the road to forgiveness.
- Clearly define your morals and beliefs. - One of the most common contributors to feeling guilt or shame are for past actions that do not align with your current morals and values. Once you have determined your moral and belief system, you will be able to better understand why you are so "hung-up" on your past actions, which will allow you to move towards forgiveness.
- Realize that the past is the past. - We can't undo the past. Understanding this simple fact will open yourself up to new levels of acceptance and on the path to self-forgiveness.
- Realize you did the best you could at the time. - Learn from your past mistakes and acknowledge the factors that led you to make your past decisions. Instead of looking at your past through a critical lens, choose to examine it through a greater level of understanding, i.e. you did the best that you could.
- Determine the value of your self-forgiveness. - Knowing the value of your ability to forgive yourself will help you to see how important it is to your mental, body, and spiritual health. Often times the value of forgiveness greatly outweighs the desire to hang-on to your negative emotions or lack of self-forgiveness.
- Identify your biggest regrets. - When we are in a state of shame, resentment, or anger, we make mountains out of mole holes. In other words, we can't move towards forgiveness because we are too busy making past wrongs much bigger than they need to be. To resolve this problem, focus on your biggest regrets; this will help you to formulate a plan to effectively move on from the regret and into a state of forgiveness.
- Move toward self-love. - Once you learn to love yourself, it will become much easier to learn to forgive yourself. As you move towards a state of self-love, be sure to surround yourself with supporting individuals whom will continuously affirm your newly found beliefs. Loving yourself is a key step in addiction recovery.
Healing Your Heart with Utah Addiction Recovery
Pathways Real Life Recovery can help you the road to living a sober life. Learning how to heal your heart, mind, body, and soul through forgiveness will help you lead a better life. Pathways Real Life Recovery will provide you with a free individual assessment opportunity. This opportunity will help you to gain the tools, skills, knowledge, and ability to restructure the belief system that often sabotages our ability to gain the results that we all truly deserve.
Learning to forgive yourself and the persons in your life will help you on your road to successfully entering into a state of addiction recovery. Forgiveness is a key to living a happier, healthier, and more productive life. As you begin to forgive, remember that the journey might be long, but it is incredibly beneficial and well-worth the effort and time that you will dedicate to the task.