How to Forgive and Why It Matters in Recovery

How to Forgive and Why It Matters in Recovery

Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) requires more than just achieving sobriety. Similarly, recovery from mental health disorders requires more than treating problematic symptoms. Simply put, the road to recovery is a lifelong journey that calls individuals to address any barriers that keep them from achieving and sustaining complete wellness.

Treatment is meant to help individuals recognize and overcome these barriers. For example, a common obstacle that may keep an individual from achieving recovery is untreated trauma. Treatment will help bring untreated trauma to light and help the client to heal from it.

When barriers are left unmanaged, they can contribute to an increased risk of relapse. 

Another barrier that will likely surface during treatment is the difficult task of forgiveness for the self and others. Yet, forgiveness is a necessary decision that individuals in recovery must make to create space for healing.

The Value of Forgiveness in Recovery

There are many ways that the term “forgiveness” can be defined. In general, the term is associated with the act of letting go. Forgiveness involves one’s willingness not to hold something against someone, regardless of what they may have done. It is a conscious choice to release distressing feelings of anger or resentment.

Unfortunately, the topic of forgiveness is not something that is always talked about. We may learn about forgiveness when we are young but forget its importance as we age. Regardless of the reason why we are called to forgive, it will always be an essential contributor to our mental and emotional wellness.

For those in recovery, consider a time that you may have hurt someone as a result of your mental health or substance use actions and behaviors. Similarly, think about a time that you may have hurt yourself as a result of your actions. Have you been able to forgive yourself for your past?

If you are new to recovery, you likely answered no to these questions. But unfortunately, a lack of self-forgiveness or forgiveness of others often keeps individuals from stopping their substance use. Or rather, it keeps individuals from seeking treatment and recovery because they believe they aren’t worthy of it.

The Benefits of Forgiveness In Recovery

It is essential to recognize that learning how to forgive is a process that takes time. However, learning forgiveness’s benefits on your recovery promotes adopting it. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • Forgiveness allows you to let go of your past mistakes. A significant benefit of forgiveness during recovery is that it will enable you to make peace with your past. In addition, you honor that you once did not know any better, but now you do. Finally, you can create space to grow into the new person you want to be by forgiving yourself.
  • When you forgive others, you learn to forgive yourself. Typically, it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. However, as you learn to forgive others for what they have done to you, you can come to terms with the fact that you also deserve forgiveness for your past. As a result, you are taking a proactive approach to your own healing.
  • Forgiveness increases your sense of awareness. Another noteworthy benefit of forgiveness is that you increase your awareness when you learn how to forgive actively. Although forgiveness helps you accept that mistakes will happen, it also allows you to be more mindful of your actions towards others and yourself. Forgiveness is a crucial aspect of mindfulness.

How to Forgive In Recovery

Since you now understand the benefits of forgiveness in recovery, you may wonder how you can learn to forgive. One of the most critical things to remember is that forgiveness is a choice. Still, that doesn’t make the act of forgiveness any easier. Above all, it is essential that you remain patient and understanding with yourself as you go through this process.

Here are some suggestions for how to practice forgiveness throughout your recovery journey:

#1 Practice Mindfulness

Simply put, mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment. When you learn how to be in the here and now, you can better understand that everyone makes mistakes. Mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with other healing elements, such as self-compassion and gratitude. Consider practicing gratitude along with mindfulness as you work on forgiveness.

#2 Make Amends

Twelve-Step groups emphasize the importance of making amends with people you may have hurt before treatment and recovery. Similarly, it encourages individuals to make amends when necessary constantly. It is necessary to try and make peace with individuals you may have hurt or those who may have hurt you. This is a critical step in your recovery journey.

#3 Practice Self-Care

If you lack self-love, you will feel unmotivated and unwilling to practice forgiveness. However, when you take care of yourself, you will realize how important it is to forgive yourself. Practicing self-care is both physical and mental. Consider spending a few minutes every day forgiving yourself as a part of your self-care routine.

Forgiveness is an essential part of treatment and recovery because it helps individuals make peace with their own past. It encourages them to make amends with those that they have hurt as they work to be better versions of themselves they move forward. In recovery, forgiveness also helps clients increase their sense of self-awareness so that they can be more mindful of how their actions affect others. Mindfulness, like practicing meditation, and self-care can elevate your experience as you learn to practice forgiveness. SoCal Mental Health is a treatment facility that recognizes forgiveness’s influence on individuals working to achieve and sustain recovery. We offer a range of treatment services for clients to treat many mental health conditions. In addition, we prioritize the act of forgiveness throughout treatment and long-term recovery. To learn more, give us a call at (949) 502-2041.

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