Achieving sobriety and entering recovery is a huge accomplishment, and one that may have come after a long period of intense struggle. Those around you may see this milestone as a celebratory occasion, and while you can recognize the progress you’ve made, your newfound clarity might also bring about another struggle: realizing the negative impact that your addiction had on your loved ones.
This might cause you to feel extreme guilt, shame, and stress. Self-forgiveness in early recovery is extremely important and even sometimes necessary to maintaining sobriety. If you’re struggling with self-forgiveness or worthiness, it’s a good idea to talk to your counselor, sponsor, or someone else who supports your sobriety. However, there are also a five steps you can take on your own to begin your journey of self-forgiveness.
Self-compassion is the root of forgiveness. It’s not making excuses, but rather recognizing the traumas and experiences that you’ve gone through and the correlation they may have to your drug and alcohol choices. The coping mechanisms may not have been appropriate, but you can forgive yourself for reacting negatively to trauma. Self-compassion gives you the ability to recognize that you’re defined by more than the actions or choices you’ve made in the past.
You may feel that you can’t truly forgive yourself until you’ve gotten forgiveness from others. Some people close to you may not be able to forgive you right away. However, by reaching out to those close to you and taking responsibility for your past actions, genuinely apologizing, and showing a commitment to doing better in the future, you can earn forgiveness from your loved ones and begin to forgive yourself.
Re-examine Your Standards
Nobody’s perfect, and expecting perfection of yourself will only lead to failure or negative thoughts. When you’re in recovery, especially early recovery, it makes sense to hold yourself to a higher moral standard. It’s possible that overcompensating for your past behaviors is causing you to compare your own behaviors against unrealistic standards. Instead of bringing yourself down, take the proper steps to care for your emotional health first and create realistic standards and goals.
Accept Your Past
You can never change the past; it’s set in stone. But we can learn from the past and use it to reflect on the progress we have made and the person we have become. Accepting your past can allow you to recognize that you’re not the same person you were. If you find yourself dwelling on prior mistakes, use mindfulness to refocus yourself in the here-and-now. Acceptance of the past can lead to self-forgiveness.
Create a Physical Ritual
Associating a physical ritual with the emotional action of self-forgiveness can help bring you closure and a sense of peace. Here are five addiction recovery smartphone apps to help you brainstorm ways to implement this new habit and track your sobriety. Maybe it’s taking a more time intensive step, like writing a letter with your thoughts and feelings to yourself or someone else. Going through the act of a physical ritual gives you time to process, experience closure, and begin to move towards self-forgiveness.
Self-acceptance and forgiveness takes time. Give yourself the credit you deserve by accepting any faults and forgiving yourself for what is in the past. If you need additional help to overcome the roadblock of self-acceptance and forgiveness, we are here for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.