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For many people, learning to forgive themselves is a large part of the recovery process. Addiction is a powerful thing. It often takes hold of an entire life. If you suffered from an addiction, you probably had a lot taken away from you because of it. Everything about your life and your decisions probably centered around your substance of choice.

Now that you are in recovery, you may feel guilty or ashamed because of the choices and decisions you made. Those feelings are very common and need to be worked through. Working with a therapist can help you continue to grow and prosper during your recovery. Here are a few different suggestions on how to start to forgive yourself.

#1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledging how you feel is something you probably started to do while in treatment. You learned the importance of recognizing and admitting how you feel so that you can work through those emotions in a healthy way. Now that you are in recovery, you need to put everything you learned into practice. Being able to acknowledge how you feel will directly help you begin to forgive yourself.

#2. Label the Reasons You Feel Guilty

If you struggle with feeling guilty for past behavior or actions, try to pinpoint exactly what you feel guilty about. Say the words “I feel guilty about this” or “I feel bad about doing that” to verbalize out loud what you are experiencing. As you learned in treatment, many people try to push their emotions down. They think that if they do not acknowledge their feelings, then those feelings will go away. That typically is not what happens. Working through your past will help you journey into the future in the direction you want to go.

#3. Apologize to Yourself and Others

Everyone makes mistakes. There is not one human you will ever meet that has not made a mistake, regretted an action, or wished that they could redo something. If you are in the process of self-forgiveness, do not overlook the power of apologizing.

Apologize to yourself for not showing yourself more love, safeguarding your health, or making safe choices. Apologize to other people in your life as well who may have been affected by your choices. As you think through all of the actions and inactions you want to apologize for, you will hopefully begin responding to yourself and others with forgiveness and compassion.

#4. Show Yourself Compassion

Showing yourself compassion is essential. If your best friend was struggling or in recovery, how would you treat them? You would be loving, supportive, and their biggest cheerleader. Why treat yourself any differently? Talk to yourself just like you would talk to your best friend. Show yourself compassion and talk nicely to yourself. How you treat yourself and talk to yourself can significantly impact your mental health and overall well-being. As you work on self-forgiveness, remember to give yourself a break.

#5. Think About How You Want to Grow

Think about how your life looked as you faced active addiction. It was probably a tough time for many different reasons. As you entered treatment and began to work on your mental health issues, you probably started to think about how you wanted to grow and change. Growth is amazing, but it can also be uncomfortable and even scary.

As you think about how you want to grow and change yourself for the better, it will help you to see how much you have already grown. Looking back at the growth and the changes you have already made also enables you to see how capable and strong you are. Think through the growth you want to experience and think about how that growth will affect your entire life.

#6. Remember Change Takes Times

Nothing happens overnight, especially anything complex like behavioral or mental health changes. Everything takes time and effort. Stay mindful and in the moment. Continue to work with a therapist even after you have been in recovery for an extended period of time. Your therapist can help you process struggles and continue putting the skills and tools you have learned into practice. Do not lose faith if you are not seeing progress as quickly as you would like. The best things in life take time.

#7. Forgive Yourself

Once you have worked through all of the above steps, you are now ready to fully forgive yourself. Letting go of the past will help to set you free and move forward in a fresh and new direction. Surround yourself with solid support that can help you on your tough days and remind you to continue working on forgiving and loving yourself regardless of your past.

Learning to forgive yourself is an integral part of the recovery process. Everyone makes mistakes in life. Learning to grow and develop into the person you have always wanted to become is the ultimate life goal. Try to acknowledge your feelings and label why you feel guilty for any past behavior or actions. You may also find it helpful to consider your goals and think about the various ways you want to improve and better yourself. Showing yourself compassion is powerful, and doing so can help you find your confidence and work on your self-esteem. Change takes time and effort. Here at The Guest House, we are trained professionals with experience helping people work through their recovery process. We are here to support and help you face any challenge that recovery throws your way. If you are struggling in your recovery, call us today at (855) 483-7800 to learn more about our support options.