If you’re embarking on a new personal journey of sobriety, your courage is to be applauded. Overcoming addiction is hard and it’s just as much an emotional and spiritual process as it is a physical one.
While there are many different aspects of self-improvement involved in addiction recovery, forgiveness is arguably one of the most important. Not only does forgiveness lead to physical health benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, better heart health, and fewer symptoms of depression, but it also often results in better relationships, improved mental health, and higher self-esteem.
Forgiving yourself and others will help you achieve better physical and emotional well-being, which will empower you to cope with challenging emotions and circumstances without giving in to cravings or triggers.
Forgiveness can be a difficult thing, so if you’re still not convinced, here are three reasons why forgiveness is ultimately one of the most important aspects of addiction recovery.
1. Forgiveness is necessary if you want your sobriety to last.
A major part of completing any addiction treatment program and moving forward with your life is learning how to practice self-forgiveness. As you start a new sober life, you’ll have to deal with feelings of guilt and shame regarding your past substance abuse. Although painful, those feelings can be good. They help you establish a personal value system and understand how you feel about your behavior, such as whether it’s right or wrong.
Forgiving yourself for past and present behaviors is difficult and it won’t happen overnight. However, by intentionally taking steps to face your mistakes head-on, correct them whenever possible, ask for forgiveness, and forgive yourself, you can succeed. Letting go of the anger and frustration you harbor toward yourself will make way for new growth and healing.
Whether you’re just starting your recovery journey at an Austin drug detox program or you’re knee-deep in a sober living program, one of the best ways to learn more about self-forgiveness and start practicing it is with talk therapy. A licensed counselor can help you identify and process your feelings in a positive way as you work toward a better future.
2. Holding on to anger only creates new hurt, but forgiveness dissolves hurt.
Holding on to all that anger, frustration, and hurt can keep you from experiencing the world from a positive perspective. It will also hinder your ability to move forward with your life, and sobriety isn’t likely to be enjoyable if you’re focused on deep resentment and negativity toward yourself or others.
Choosing to forgive will free you from past hurt and help you overcome the victim mentality that consumes so many people who are plagued by addiction. To truly start over, you’ll need to face those negative feelings and deal with them. Although difficult, this process is key to developing compassion, reestablishing relationships with important people in your life, and truly enjoying your sobriety.
3. Forgiveness helps you overcome trauma.
When addiction is involved, often trauma is too. A traumatic past can be really difficult to deal with, especially if you’re trying to stay sober. Working through trauma is never as simple as just forgiving and moving on, but forgiveness can play an important role in the process.
In instances of trauma, forgiveness is more situational. It does not have to be directed at the person who inflicted the trauma, but coming to terms with the fact that the situation occurred is, in essence, forgiveness.
Making peace with the fact that a horrible situation occurred means you release all the hatred, resentment, and bitterness you harbor to break free and separate yourself from the offender and the offense. This empowers you to take full responsibility for your current happiness.
Much like recovery itself, forgiveness is a process that will not happen overnight. It’s a very personal process that takes consistent effort, time, and even practice. However, healing is possible and so is long-lasting sobriety.