When we think of forgiveness, we often think of either someone who has directly wronged us or the act of self-forgiveness – by releasing the guilt from our own wrongdoings or regressions in recovery. When it comes to addiction and mental illness, it’s easy to stay angry at the people who have maybe caused you to begin a path of self-destruction, pain, and hurt in the first place; despite this pain, forgiveness is crucial in order to move forward. As Buddha once stated,
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
If you can learn to forgive others and yourself, your mind and heart become much more open to growth and transformation.
Many structured and reputable treatment programs incorporate forgiveness into therapy – for example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) employs the Twelve Step Model, which typically involves clients writing down a list of people (step 5) whom they have hurt or have hurt them and essentially practice forgiveness by reframing, accepting, and finding resolutions to issues. A 2015 study published in Spirituality in Clinical Practice addressed several studies that have studied forgiveness efforts through various modalities in treatment programs. When it comes to forgiveness, clients are not asked in any way to forget, deny, or minimize their experiences – rather, they are asked to seek peace with what has happened in their life and to focus on moving forward.
Another modality which emphasizes recovery is through four phases: uncovering, decision, work, and deepening. Uncovering relates to the awareness that a problem is present, and that emotional pain is also present. Decision includes the need for an alternate resolution. Work is both the internal and external work that it takes to practice forgiveness, such as reframing, empathy, and acceptance of pain. Lastly, deepening is when a person finds deeper meaning in life as they move forward with theirs.
Forgiveness isn’t about being “happy” with what has happened to you in the past. It’s about accepting that it did happen and moving on for your own health and happiness – so that you don’t have to carry the pain of the past on your heart any longer. Practicing forgiveness in recovery isn’t likely to be a smooth process; many people fluctuate as they find out more about themselves and further clarify their values and perceptions of the world while in recovery. Begin taking steps towards forgiveness today. You deserve to move forward.
Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.