The Importance of Self-Forgiveness in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

The Importance of Self-Forgiveness in Addiction Treatment and Recovery


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    Sometimes when a person is dealing with addiction, they might do things they aren’t proud of or feel ashamed about the addiction itself. This article is about dealing with shame and why forgiving yourself for your past actions can help you in the healing process.

    Shame Won’t Help You Get Better

    It’s common for people to experience shame, especially if they are recovering from addiction. They might have accumulated credit card debt or gotten fired. They might be facing legal troubles such as DUI or possession. It’s hard to get over that shame.

    You jeopardize your recovery when you don’t forgive yourself for your past actions. This is because shame only hurts the healing process. When a person feels ashamed, they are often isolated, which can easily cause relapse. In addition, people who feel sorry might be less likely to ask for help when they are struggling emotionally. 

    Shame can also affect your self-esteem. If you define yourself by your past actions, it can destroy your self-image. You might see yourself as a person who doesn’t deserve to be healthy or get better, which can ruin your motivation.

    The Benefits of Forgiving Yourself

    Self-forgiveness is critical in recovery in that it:

    Allows You to Let Go of Pain

    During addiction treatment, people often face complicated feelings. They might carry guilt, resentment, fear, and apathy, often associated with past actions. Self-forgiveness allows you to let go of that pain and feel free.

    Improves Self Esteem

    When you can forgive yourself for your past actions and behaviors, you can slowly improve how you view yourself. You don’t need to see yourself as some kind of monster but rather as a human being who sometimes makes mistakes, and that’s okay. Improving your self-esteem can make it easier to care for yourself and go for your goals.

    Opens Up Space to Grow

    Holding onto past actions doesn’t allow for current growth. Instead, you’re blocking progress. You aren’t the person you were before treatment, and you won’t be the same after treatment. Over time people evolve and change. You learn from your mistakes and apply them to the following situation.

    It is a Form of Self Love

    When someone you love hurts you, you might, over time, forgive them. After all, it’s what people do for those they care about. It’s harder to forgive yourself than forgive others, but when you’re able to let it go and see yourself as a human who makes mistakes, it is a form of love. If you struggle to love yourself, forgiving your past actions could be a step towards practicing self-love.

    Let Go of Shame: The Path to Forgiveness

    By dropping the shame you feel, you can begin to heal and:

    Accept That You Can’t Change the Past

    You might have done something you regret and wish you could go back. Unfortunately, people can’t time travel. You can’t change things you’ve done in the past. You control your actions and the actions you can take in the future.

    Hold Yourself Accountable for Your Actions

    Sometimes people dwell on shame or self-blame when they need to hold themselves accountable. However, blaming yourself and feeling bad won’t fix the current problems. You don’t need to blame or shame yourself for holding yourself accountable. Instead, it’s much more productive to recognize the part you played, own your actions, and plan to move forward without making the same mistake again.

    Appreciate Your Growth

    Even if your mistake was yesterday, you have grown since then. You’ve learned the consequences. People are growing and shifting all of the time. You weren’t the same person five years ago, and you won’t be the same five years from now. 

    Instead of dwelling on the mistakes you’ve made before, focus on how far you’ve come. Think about what changes you’ve made and what toxic patterns you’ve ended.

    Plan For a Better Future 

    The only way is forward. You can’t change your past, but you still can impact your future. If you’ve done something you regret, plan how you’ll deal with the situation in the future. Making a plan for the future can also help mend relationships and rebuild trust, making it even easier to forgive yourself.

    It’s hard when you can’t forgive yourself for what you’ve done in your past. Holding onto that guilt only makes you feel worse about yourself. You can’t heal when you’re still holding onto your past actions. 

    Since treatment, you’ve grown a lot. It’s time to let go of the past and forgive yourself for your efforts. It’s the best way to heal and move forward in your recovery. You’ve had to learn how your actions affect people. 

    Self-forgiveness can help you during your healing. Shame only feeds into addiction. 

    Once you can forgive yourself, you can continue your healing journey and improve your relationships with your loved ones and your relationship with yourself. Forgiving yourself won’t happen in a day, and it might take some time for you to work through your past. Call Villa Oasis San Diego today at (323) 739-8673 to learn how you can heal.

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