Learning to Forgive… Yourself

One of the most difficult parts of recovery for the vast majority of individuals who have suffered the devastation of substance dependency is the forgiveness and acceptance of self. Many men and women who have battled years of addiction have stooped to moral levels previously incomprehensible, engaging in depraved activities that have resulted in deep-seated feelings of shame and self-loathing. Because we have participated in morally corrupt behaviors, it is easy for us to adopt the mentally that we, as individuals, are ‘bad’. What is absolutely crucial to keep in mind is that substance dependency is a completely destructive and soul-crushing disease, and that the activities we engaged in while drinking and using in no way define us as human beings.

Learning to Forgive Yourself

Learning to forgive ourselves tends to be much more difficult than learning to forgive others. However, learning to forgive ourselves is a crucial first step in learning to love ourselves. But how can we accept some of the seemingly unforgivable things we have done? The act of forgiveness consists predominantly of working to develop a thorough understanding of certain situations that may have lead to severe hurt and anger. It may take a long time to completely stop being angry with yourself for past mistakes, based on a seemingly constant negative voice in your head reminding you of your (very human) faults. Yet learning not to hate yourself is a significant step in the right direction, and this can be done in several different ways.

Employ Techniques to Help Develop Self-Love

Positive affirmations are frequently advised in early recovery, seeing as focusing on the good rather than dwelling on the bad has been proven to boost self-esteem and promote self-acceptance. Make a list of all of your positive qualities: I am kind; I am a good friend; I am smart; I am loved – and read these to yourself both in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Repeat affirmations to yourself throughout the day to encourage self-love and to get yourself in the habit of praising your good qualities. Consider why it is you are unable to forgive yourself. We are all human, and we are all prone to hurting one another from time to time. Active addiction lowers moral standards significantly, and the seemingly unforgivable acts you committed while active in your substance dependency were undoubtedly a direct result of decreased inhibitions and the overwhelming power of the disease of addiction itself. You will find as you gain more successive sobriety that others forgive you for what you have done – it is now up to you to forgive yourself. Once you understand that what you did while using is not a reflection of who you are, you will be free to truly learn to appreciate the beautiful person you are surely becoming.

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