There is no freedom greater than forgiveness. Whether you are entering rehab or living a life in recovery, forgiveness is a life-giving skill that you can develop. Forgiveness is something that you can readily give yourself at anytime. Right now, in fact. Repeat after me, “I forgive myself.” There can be no greater act of self-love than for you to gift yourself with these three simple words. Forgiveness is a large component of recovery. As you begin to live a clean and sober lifestyle, there will be issues from the past that beckon your attention. Destructive relationship patterns, missed opportunities, and family drama all require forgiveness and the acknowledgement that you cannot change the past. You have today and each day forward to put your best foot forward. Forgiving yourself for past actions, even when other people may not, is critical for you to be able to live a free and fulfilling life.
What if I can’t forgive myself?
Okay, let’s try this on for size and see what happens. Let’s say that you have a friend named Gina who recently completed a treatment program. She has had a difficult time over the past few years, but you are proud of her for persevering and choosing recovery. She was regularly attending support group meetings for a while, but lately you’ve noticed something seems amiss. Gina confides in you that she can’t forgive herself for the life she used to lead. She feels like a bad person because of all the pain she has caused herself and her loved ones. You notice Gina isn’t coming around much lately and attends support meetings every now and then. She has even started to miss work.
Can you see where this is leading? Destructive thought patterns ultimately lead to self-destructive behaviors. Gina is giving up her freedom and punishing herself with destructive thoughts. She is headed for a potential relapse. How would Gina’s life be different if she chose forgiveness for herself?
Through forgiveness, Gina would learn to love herself for who she is today, in this very moment, and to forgive herself for her past behaviors. Gina would gain the freedom to accept the imperfection of being human and to embrace a new lease on life as a clean and sober person. Gina would learn to accept the situations in life and memories that she cannot change. Forgiveness would give her the freedom to be herself and pursue happiness. As long as Gina harbors resentment for her past behaviors, she will continue to punish herself and create a difficult road for herself.
Learning to live a life of forgiveness
Do you struggle with forgiveness? If only it were as simple as a twitch of a nose. It is human nature to err and self-blame. Often times we blame ourselves for situations that we have no control over.
If you are struggling with forgiveness, take a step back and evaluate the troublesome situation. Ask yourself the following:
Let go of the past
You are more than your past. Recognize that lingering resentments are self-sabotaging triggers. Resentments don’t deserve your energy. When self-destructive thoughts present themselves, choose forgiveness. Let go of the past with love and focus on the blessings of today. This will free you to enjoy the clean and sober life that you have worked so diligently to create.
Lessons of forgiveness
Forgiveness allows us to learn from our mistakes and grow as adults. If you are in recovery, support groups can provide a healthy forum for learning the art of forgiveness. Freeing yourself from resentment and past misery opens the door to self-love and ushers in hope for a brighter tomorrow. Forgiveness is one of the single greatest gifts you can give yourself in recovery. You can start to forgive yourself and others today and start really living right now!