Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do especially as it pertains to addiction recovery. As humans, we tend to get stuck in our memories and have a hard time moving on. The more we think about the past, the stronger the attachment is, and the harder it becomes to let go. Sometimes, we even get scared to forgive because we don’t want to be hurt again. Other times, we feel that the person who hurt us deserves to be punished.
As difficult as forgiveness can be, it’s essential to your recovery from substance abuse. After all, you’re not forgiving the person for them. You’re doing it for yourself. Once you make amends, you can put the past behind you and move forward with your new, sober life.
What Does it Mean, to Forgive?
Forgiveness means letting go of anger, frustration, resentment, and other negative feelings that have to do with another person. It doesn’t mean forgetting the hurt or excusing the behavior. But it does mean releasing unhealthy emotions attached to the individual. Otherwise, you’ll just keep replaying this hurt in your mind, which can be toxic to your recovery.
Because forgiveness is difficult to do, it helps to work with a trained therapist who can empower you to forgive. When you enter addiction treatment, you will receive this type of support from both individual and group therapy. Forgiveness is also deeply rooted in the 12 steps. Step Eight of AA is the beginning of making amends, so by this point in your recovery, you’ll be in a better place to let go of past hurt.
Why Should You Forgive if You’ve Been Harmed?
When someone else hurts you, forgiving them might feel like a free pass for their negative behavior. But forgiveness is more for you than for them. Holding onto this anger puts you in a constant state of anxiety which can complicate your recovery. Not practicing forgiveness also takes an emotional toll, and this can increase your risk for relapse.
Let’s look at some specific benefits of forgiving those who have wronged you:
- Stop being the victim. Being a victim obstructs your recovery because it keeps you in a state of hurt where you’re controlled by negative energy. Releasing this pain gets you out of the victim role.
- Free yourself. Forgiveness allows you to take your power back. Not only can you move forward from drug rehab in Agoura, but also you might be able to look back and remember the positives from your past relationship.
- Start the healing process. You can’t fully heal when you’re tied to negative energy. By practicing forgiveness, you replace past hurt with healing.
- Move forward in your spiritual path. Forgiveness teaches you compassion and empathy. You can relate to others and have a better perspective of why people hurt others. This also teaches you that most of the time, what people do is about them and not you.
- Improve your health. Negative energy saps your physical, mental, and emotional health. Letting go of bitterness allows you to be the best version of yourself.
The Next Step: Forgiving Yourself
Perhaps the hardest person to forgive is yourself. And, holding onto these feelings can be even more detrimental than holding onto resentment from others. People going through outpatient drug rehab in Agoura tend to remember some of their lowest points. But feelings of guilt and shame do nothing to support your recovery.
As you learn how to forgive others, it will be easier to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness - it is a sign of strength. Again, your group sessions and 12-step meetings will help you practice forgiveness. It’s a process that happens over time, but it’s essential to a healthy and complete recovery.
As you practice forgiveness, you will see that this is a gift to yourself. You can then decide if you want to continue a relationship with the people who have wronged you. It's okay if you don't. What's important is that you release the negativity associated with that person so you can be free and move forward in your journey. And ultimately, you will learn to forgive yourself while also taking responsibility for your actions.
To start your path to recovery and forgiveness, contact Awakenings Treatment Center today. Our trauma treatment centers work with people who are struggling with substance abuse and mental illness. We can also introduce you or your loved one to the 12 steps and the importance of making amends.