How to Forgive Yourself and Why it’s Beneficial

We’ve all done things we regret. Making mistakes, even mistakes that hurt other people is part of being a human being. If you’re in recovery, you might be facing the harsh reality that your dependency fueled a series of harmful or destructive choices.

It is important to own your mistakes, but it is equally important to forgive yourself for your past as you heal. Self-hatred or anger could only slow your recovery. You might practice self-punishment or feel so worthless you resume use or make destructive choices. Here’s how to forgive yourself in addiction recovery and why it’s beneficial to your healing.

Accept, Don’t Deny the Truth

Forgiving isn’t forgetting. In fact, being honest with yourself and the people you’ve harmed through your mistakes is an essential first step towards self-forgiveness. Avoiding or ignoring choices in your past doesn’t make them go away.

With the help of a therapist, you can begin sorting through the history of your substance use. Acknowledge your mess-ups and begin to heal. This might come in the forth of an apology or it might be an actionable way to make amends such as fulfilling a promise broken during active addiction.

Young woman writing in her journal about how to forgive

See the Lesson in the Mistake

Outside of remaining sober, what can you learn from the mistakes you’ve made? Are certain situations causing you to act abusively, neglect your loved ones, or ignore responsibilities? If so, it might be possible to create a plan for avoiding these circumstances in the future or call in backup support when triggers present themselves.

Not all poor decisions have a lesson. Some mistakes are simply mistakes and that’s OK.

Extend Compassion to Your Past Self

In order to forgive yourself, it is helpful to compassionately accept your humanity. Perhaps you made mistakes while you were trying to survive a difficult childhood or marriage. Perhaps your addiction kept you from thinking clearly, acting kindly, or being responsible.

No matter the reason behind a mistake, there is no changing the past. So, in the place of self-criticism and shame, extend the compassion to your past self that you would extend to a loved one. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the healthy choices you’ve made recently since making progress in your recovery. Sometimes noting growth in ourselves enables us to move on from past choices.

Get Outside Support

Self-forgiveness isn’t easy. This is especially true if there is an addiction present or mental health issues that exacerbate rumination, anxiety, and depression over the mistakes we’ve made. Because of this, it might not be possible to practice self-forgiveness without support.

A therapist can provide tools and exercises for this important step in healing. The more equipped you are for healing and recovery, the more successful you will be in creating a life filled with purpose.

woman holding another woman in a side embrace offering support during group therapy

Why Practice Forgiveness?

If you’re constantly looking back on your life and finding yourself filled with shame and regret, it isn’t possible to move forward. Before you can step into a healed version of yourself, you must accept and forgive the choices you’ve made.

Additionally, guilt, shame, and self-hatred are common activators in individuals with an addiction. If you’re stuck in a loop of self-punishment, you’ll find it increasingly more difficult to heal from your past so you can be a healthier version of yourself.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we can help. Our addiction treatment services include counselling, withdrawal management, and 24/7 medical care, connecting you with the tools you need to move forward in healing and self-forgiveness.

Contact us to learn more about our facility and how we can help you on your journey to recovery.