In each individual’s journey to sobriety, the recovery process can present many difficult and unique hurdles. Not only is it important to address one’s relationship with drugs or alcohol and learn how to cope with urges, but each individual is also asked to confront feelings of shame or guilt and address the complex nature of their changing relationships.
One of the most profound parts of tackling addiction is the relationships that may have become strained due to drug or alcohol use. Because of this, forgiveness is a crucial part of the recovery process, both in learning to forgive others and oneself. It is essential for both those in the recovery program and supporters to explore the profound nature of forgiveness. However, that doesn’t mean that forgiveness will come at the same time for each person. Learning the different ways in which forgiveness can be explored and why such a practice is so essential can create the necessary space for further growth both inside and outside of the recovery sphere.
What Does it Mean to Forgive Others?
Forgiving others is a necessary practice through the addiction recovery process. Whether an individual feels that they were wronged in how they were treated for their addiction, or supporters need to forgive some of the destructive behavior of an individual suffering from addiction while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, finding a way to forgive is crucial to move forward. Forgiving others can mean allowing oneself the pent-up anger, frustration, resentment, or sadness that may have piled up as a result of addiction and agreeing to move past these actions in pursuit of a better future.
However, contrary to the phrase “forgive and forget,” forgetting these actions isn’t necessarily essential to find forgiveness for others. For some, forgiveness may only be able to take place after an individual has sat with another in a safe space and genuinely convey the reasons why these frustrations or resentments were once harbored. Knowing these reasons can provide a lot of context on where an individual may want to focus their recovery efforts to best continue to address these impactful elements in recovery.
Forgiveness doesn’t need to include dismissing the past, but it is an agreement to look forward in pursuit of a unified front for a better future. When forgiving others, while forgetting isn’t necessary, the hallmark of forgiveness is no longer holding mistakes over another’s head or perceiving an individual through a lens of wrongdoing.
Forgiving oneself is often one of the most challenging parts of the recovery process. How an individual forgives themselves or others will usually develop at different times. An individual can learn to forgive others long before they can confront their own guilts. However, this kind of forgiveness is crucial in both learning to maintain many of the sober practices learned at recovery and formulate the necessary change to one’s worldview.
Addiction can be riddled with feelings of shame and guilt. It can be difficult to forgive oneself or otherwise feel that one doesn’t deserve recovery or happiness because of wrongs committed. A wholly internal affair, self-forgiveness is often complicated and difficult to find.
Forgiving oneself, however, first requires the person to acknowledge the part they played in developing their addiction and the mistakes made. It can also be a willingness, even if reluctant, to confront the fallout of one’s use of drugs or alcohol and their role in deteriorating relationships, personal goals, or professional life, which links it directly to the shame or guilt an individual may feel. However, forgiving oneself for these things is essential for keeping a positive, transformative mindset and allowing oneself to recognize the adverse effects and continue to work to change their future. Forgiving oneself doesn’t mean that someone has to learn to love who they were, but rather learn to be positive and loving about who they are becoming.
Importance of Forgiveness in Recovery
Forgiveness is one of the most profound and complex parts of the recovery process. However, without learning to forgive, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain one’s sobriety and a positive mindset. Holding onto grudges can be a significant stressor on its own, and this persistent negative mood can make it easier to slip back into addictive practices.
For many who use drugs or alcohol, their use may have stemmed from guilt involved with drinking or using drugs in the first place, and forgiveness is a crucial element in breaking that cycle. Not only can it be the catalyst through which an individual can further facilitate change, but without acknowledging or pursuing forgiveness in one’s self or others, an individual may continue to place blame on others and further deteriorate relationships. This can lead to an increased chance of relapse and continued prevailing feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, depression, and an overall stressful, difficult lifestyle.
Forgiveness is one of the most profound and also most challenging goals in the recovery process. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and are ready to take your first step towards forgiving yourself and your loved ones, Avalon Malibu can help you begin your recovery today. We offer an array of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, from yoga, meditation, and massage therapy to art, music, and even a seasonal ropes course, to help you better understand your body and mind through the recovery process. We also offer couples and family-based therapy to directly address the concept of forgiveness while providing a safe and constructive space to begin mending relationships with those closest to you. For more information on how we can individualize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5922.