People in recovery from addiction need to take a number of steps to ensure a healthy recovery journey. And, to establish long-lasting sobriety. One of the steps to achieve this that’s frequently discussed in AA groups and other types of group meetings is forgiveness. But, when most people think about forgiveness in recovery, they think of the addict seeking forgiveness for their past behaviors throughout active addiction. However, forgiveness in recovery isn’t just about asking for forgiveness from friends and family you may have hurt, it’s about asking for forgiveness from yourself too. In this article, we discuss the importance of forgiveness throughout your recovery journey. And, steps to take to work on this forgiveness from your loved ones and yourself.
What is Forgiveness?
You probably already understand what forgiveness is. Most of us are taught to forgive at an early age, learning to accept others for their flaws and allowing them back into our lives when we’re wronged. Certainly, learning about forgiveness when we’re young can help us to understand how to use this concept into and throughout our adult lives. But, when it comes to addiction, forgiveness can be a touchy subject. In many cases, individuals may develop an addiction due to self-medicating abuse, traumatic situations, and hurt that others have inflicted. In these cases, for people in recovery, not practicing forgiveness can actually make recovery less successful. This is because these individuals may end up relapsing if they don’t address these underlying causes of their addictive behaviors.
Overall, forgiveness means letting go of negative emotions that are directed towards another human being. Basically, when a family member, friend, or another type of loved one does something to hurt you, letting go of unhealthy emotions tied to this behavior is forgiveness. Of course, it can be challenging to forgive; especially if a person has been victimized by an abuser or never apologized too. Fortunately, therapeutic assets can help individuals to learn how to practice forgiveness so that unhealthy emotions can be worked through. And, healing can commence.
Why is it Important to Forgive in Recovery?
It’s actually healthy to forgive. It’s easy to understand that harboring negative emotions due to something someone has done to hurt you can lead to negative health effects like depression, anxiety, and anger. And, it’s even easier to understand that these negative feelings can hinder progress in addiction treatment and recovery. Furthermore, experiencing the anxiety that not forgiving can provide may even lead to physical effects like sleeplessness, cardiovascular disease, and even a weakened immune system. So, while forgiveness means forgiving another person of their misdeeds, it’s actually about your health.
Along with the physical effects that not forgiving can lead to not being able to forgive others in recovery can also lead to a number of emotional symptoms. During recovery, it’s important for individuals to discover sobriety that’s emotional. This means developing the ability to handle negative emotions without having to self-medicate with a person’s drug of choice. When negative emotions are brought on by misdeeds from others, forgiveness is necessary to move past these emotions and discover emotional sobriety.
Being able to heal both physically and emotionally is a huge determining factor in whether or not recovery will be successful. So, we cannot overstate the importance of forgiveness as it’s vital to removing negative emotions which may stimulate addictive behaviors.
Practicing Forgiving Yourself in Recovery
The importance of forgiveness in recovery goes beyond being able to forgive others. It also includes being able to forgive yourself. Far too often, people enter into addiction treatment and never end up forgiving themselves. They can’t get over the negative things they may have done throughout active addiction. In many cases, people may experience shame, guilt, anger, and resentment over the things they’ve done or said. However, holding onto these negative emotions can hinder recovery success. And, may lead to an eventual relapse. So, the importance of forgiveness in recovery shouldn’t only be about others, but about yourself too.
Learning How to Forgive Yourself and Others in Treatment
Individuals looking to recover from addiction can learn and practice forgiveness in treatment.
Here at Willow Place for Women, we help women struggling with a number of mental health disorders, including addiction, identify underlying causes of their issues. And, address these issues head-on so that healing can begin. One of the ways to stimulate healing is to address the importance of forgiveness. And, practice doing so throughout treatment. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs for women, contact us today!