Forgiveness in Recovery: Learning to Move Forward

Forgiveness in recovery is one of the most important steps in fully overcoming an addiction. Whether a friend or family member has hurt you or caused you pain, it’s important to leave the past and truly forgive them, choosing to move forward.  

Holding grudges will not only cause harm to the people around you but to yourself as well. It is very important for you to forgive and let bygones be bygones for the sake of long-term treatment

Forgiving someone that wronged you during your most vulnerable moments can be extremely difficult. But once you do it, you will feel a certain weight be lifted from your shoulders and you can move on with your brand new life. 

What Does Forgiveness Really Mean?

Forgiveness by definition is the conscious act of letting go of those feelings of resentment towards a person (or perhaps a group) who harmed you even if they don’t deserve it. This is an idea we are taught at a very young age, but as life goes on, it can get tougher and tougher to act on this idea as an adult. 

While this is a basic principle of life, for an addict, this can be an extremely tough decision, considering all the personal and traumatic experiences he/she might have had as a result of addiction. These feelings of rage and resentment are way more intense for addicts. This is mostly due to the traumatic memories and the circumstances that happened during those dark times. 

As hard as it might be to grapple with these feelings and forgive not only yourself but the ones around you, it is a necessary decision while you are on the road to a healthy and brighter life. Forgiveness is not about forgetting someone’s action. Instead, it’s about clearing the air and moving forward towards bigger and better things.

Why Should You Forgive?

There are many health benefits to forgiving others. Whether you feel resentment, anger, or regret towards individuals, it is a healthy and wise decision to forgive. 

Offering closure and forgiveness is a huge step forward when you are on the road to recovery. It will ultimately lead to a healthier life without any grudges to hold you back. 

Looking on the other side of the coin, holding in these feelings can have negative effects on your overall health. When you hold all these begrudging feelings in, you open yourself up to anxiety and stress. This can lead to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and other issues that will only cause more problems throughout your recovery

These stored emotions can also take a toll on you and your loved ones if they are kept hidden, slowly boiling up inside. These thoughts and feelings can eventually lead to relapses as you attempt to cope with them. Forgiveness allows for closure and forward strides towards recovery. 

Forgiving Those Around You

forgiveness in recovery

It is important to take a moment and think about all those you may have harmed or who may have hurt you. It could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or even a complete stranger. Regardless of who you may have built up negative feelings towards, forgiveness during recovery is a necessary step to a better life.

It takes courage and self-awareness to forgive those who have wronged you. But once you act on it, you can rebuild connections with those who got caught in the crossfire of addiction and resentment. Learning to let go of these feelings during recovery can be a reawakening for the individual in recovery and those around them.

In the same way that you would establish co-occurring disorders in regards to your addiction, it is also necessary to confront those repressed grudges you may have with others so you can fully recover from your addiction with a clean slate.

Forgiving Yourself

As we discuss the topic of forgiveness and its importance with those around you, there is one other person that you must absolutely forgive if you wish to fully recover, yourself. If you don’t heal internally, then you will never truly be able to heal. 

So what exactly does it mean to forgive yourself? Regardless of what you may have done, it is about understanding your wrongdoings and deciding to move on with your life. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should put aside your misguided actions and ignore them, instead you should reflect on them and truly accept them. 

There are a few steps to honestly forgiving yourself and moving on forward with your recovery: 

  1. Getting a clear picture of your situation
  2. The decision to move forward
  3. Understanding what forgiveness means to you
  4. A Positive Outlook towards life’s situations
  5. Reacting to stress during self-forgiveness

Let’s break these steps and see how they can help with self-forgiveness and recovery. 

1. Getting a Clear Picture of your Situation

In whatever step of recovery you might be, it is important to let go of your past mistakes and focus on where you are now. Getting a clear picture of your situation means understanding your mistakes and truly recognizing the situation you are in. This is the first step to forgiving yourself.

2. The Decision to Move Forward 

The road to recovery can sometimes seem long and grueling, but with the right mindset, it can be a much easier pill to swallow, one that can lead to a healthier and happier life. Once you have made the decision to turn your life around, it is crucial that you keep your determination and willpower to keep pushing forward. 

3. Understanding What Forgiveness Means to You

Forgiveness might mean different things for different people. With this in mind, it is important to understand what forgiveness means to you. Once you are able to establish what forgiveness is to you, you can continue on your journey towards mental and physical healing.

4. A Positive Outlook Towards Life’s Situations

Everyone will have bad days from time to time. But it’s how you react to them that makes all the difference. It is important to look at things from a positive angle and apply that to your life. This positive outlook will make self-forgiveness more appealing and easier to do. 

5. Reacting to Stress During Self-Forgiveness

Truly forgiving yourself can be a cathartic experience and as you get overwhelmed with past emotions, it is important to take these feelings apart carefully. Sort through these emotions and try to stay positive through the process. Take these self-revealing moments one step at a time and be kind to yourself. 

By following these steps, you will slowly but surely come to forgive yourself. No matter what has happened in your past, it is never too late to turn things around and push towards a healthy, happier life with no regrets or resentment.

The Dangers of Not Forgiving Others (and Yourself) 

Those who suffer from addiction tend to experience intense and traumatic experiences with their addictions. Unfortunately, this can sever many relationships. As a result, feelings of resentment and anger towards others can lead to more suffering and potential relapses down the road.

Holding grudges and feeling anger towards others is like trying to live your life with an anchor on your foot. You have to release these feelings and forgive yourself and those around you so that you can move forward with recovery, towards a brighter future. 

It’s not easy to do and it is going to require you to put your differences aside with those who have wronged you. With a positive mindset and a sincere desire for forgiveness, you can repair these loose ends with those you care about and those who are around you. At the end of the day, there are more people on your side than you think.

Forgiveness in Recovery: Moving Forward in Your Journey

Interestingly, one of the 12 steps to Alcoholics Anonymous is to ‘Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all’. There is a reason why this is one of the infamous 12 steps. In order to fully heal and move forward with your recovery, you must be willing to forgive others and yourself, leaving the past behind you. 

Don’t let these bottled up feelings of resentment and pain keep you from getting to the life you are striving for. Put these feelings to rest as you try to rebuild those injured relationships and grow as a person. It is important to keep in mind that so many people care about you and are willing to help, offer closure, and move forward with you. 

Once you forgive yourself and those around you, it will take time for things to settle in and there may be some road bumps in the process. But, in the end, you will come out stronger and more positive than before! Forgiveness in the recovery process is always about moving forward and getting one step closer each and every day. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, please don’t hesitate to visit our website for more information.