After decades of research, science has proven that addiction recovery is most effective when the recovering individual embraces self-forgiveness. When you’re not willing to forgive yourself for past mistakes or wrongdoings, you are at increased risk for relapse and also more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start practicing forgiveness, and even small efforts can have a big impact on your life!
What is Self-Forgiveness?
Accepting responsibility for our part in an event, learning from it, and making a change is an important part of growth. In addiction recovery, self-forgiveness means forgiving ourselves for past transgressions against ourselves (such as overeating, overdrinking, misusing substances) and feeling compassion for the pain we have caused ourselves.
Self-forgiveness in addiction recovery can also mean forgiving other people who may have harmed us or acted in ways that were contrary to our beliefs or needs. It takes time, hard work, commitment, understanding the core issues driving our addiction(s), and willingness to try new things. We do not have to forgive those who hurt us in order to move on with our lives; we just need to start doing things differently.
With these ideas, you’ll be on your way to becoming a healthier, happier person.
- Find out what triggers you to use or act out, and learn how you respond when these events occur. Once you know your triggers, come up with a plan before they happen so you will be less likely to engage in old behaviors.
- Create an action plan with friends/family members if possible so they know what they should do if they find themselves around someone struggling with addiction (e.g., call 911).
- Consider joining a support group where you can share your story and receive support from others facing similar challenges; most of these groups are free but some charge modest fees based on income.
Importance of Self-Forgiveness in Addiction Recovery
Many people who are recovering from addiction may have made the decision to commit to sobriety. However, there is often a feeling of shame or guilt that remains long after their addictions have been overcome. While it can be difficult for those in recovery, it is important for them to remember that self-forgiveness in addiction recovery does not mean I’m forgiven by others or things didn’t happen. Instead, self-forgiveness means giving yourself permission, compassion, and acceptance when you don’t fully understand how things happened.
Identify What You Need to Forgive Yourself For
Learning the concept of self-forgiveness is a process that starts with recognizing what we need to forgive ourselves for. For many of us, the things that keep us stuck are the things we haven’t forgiven ourselves for.
Here’s what you may need to forgive yourself for.
- Spending time on anything other than being sober
- Drinking or using drugs as a way of coping
- Deciding not to set boundaries or be assertive due to fear, worry, etc.
- Saying yes when you want no
- Not knowing how not to take responsibility for everyone else’s stuff
- Fearfully allowing others into your space who do not support your sobriety
Use Positive Affirmations
Positivity is important when it comes to self-forgiveness. Take the time each day to remind yourself how you are better than your addiction. Remind yourself that you are strong, determined, smart, courageous, patient, insightful, and gentle. Encourage yourself by adding positive words like hope and belief into the mix of your affirmations because together they will give you the emotional strength needed for recovery.
Here are a few examples:
- I am stronger than my addiction
- I am more courageous than my addiction
- I am more insightful than my addiction
- I am more patient than my addiction
- I can do this on my own. I don’t need an addict telling me what to do!
Share Your Experiences
When you tell your story and speak about what happened to you, you help yourself and others recover.
This may be awkward if you want to avoid wallowing in the past or rehashing sad memories, but burying your errors, experiences, and decisions may create emotional upheaval. Once your past is exposed, you may finally put an end to the chains it has placed on you. You may find a supportive community in a recovery group, in sessions with a counselor, or even among close relatives and friends. When you tell your story, you offer people the opportunity to affirm that you are forgiven and deserving of a new beginning despite your faults. You may begin to learn self and progress toward regeneration and liberation once you know your decisions in the past do not determine who you will be in the future.
Examine Your Conscience
Examining your options might help you exercise self-awareness and identify areas that need more attention or focused care. Perhaps you have a pattern of repeating the same mistake again and over, which is impeding your growth. You will be much more in touch with yourself in the present and more in control of choosing or avoiding certain decisions as you become more conscious of your actions.
This realization helps in the process of forgiving oneself. It’s important to appreciate the strenuous work you’re putting into making positive changes in your life and to accept that every step you take (whether forward, backward, or lateral) is a necessary part of the trip. Ideally, doing so would help you to be kinder to yourself as you examine your errors.
Confront Your Inner Critic
When you’re like the majority of individuals who are suffering from a drug use problem or in the beginning stages of recovery, you may have negative self-perceptions, such as “You’ll not be able to alter your life. “The objective is to overcome this internal voice and make treating oneself with love and compassion a priority. When you challenge your negative inner voice with motivating and inspiring ideas, you deprive it of its power.
Have you lost important connections as a result of your addiction? No matter how often they care for you, loved ones may have needed to create boundaries and keep a distance to defend themselves from harm. You should be able to repair those connections as you proceed through your recovery process. Seeking out those you may have offended in order to make apologies may assist you in practicing self-forgiveness. Rather than lamenting their loss, you may take action and beg for forgiveness while also practicing self-forgiveness.
Self-Forgiveness in Addiction Recovery
Self-forgiveness in addiction recovery is an important part of your journey to recover from addiction. However, doing it on your own may sometimes seem too overwhelming. We recommend getting help from expert counselors and experts at North Jersey Recovery Center. Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve your sobriety goals and lead a healthy fulfilling life!