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How Can Self-Forgiveness Aid Addiction Recovery?

Self-forgiveness is an extremely powerful practice and tool for addiction recovery. Forgiving yourself is one of the most profound actions you can take on the road to recovery.

How Does Self-Forgiveness Work?

Psychology Research and Behavior Management defines self-forgiveness as a “cognitive reframing of one’s views of the self.” The way you view yourself shapes every part of your life. To overcome addiction struggles, it’s important to create a strong and positive view of yourself.

Negative feelings, like shame and guilt, can easily grow stronger. To stop this, you must practice acknowledging, forgiving, and releasing them. You can overcome these feelings by bringing them to the surface instead of ignoring them.

Benefits of Self-Forgiveness in Recovery

A 2011 study in the Journal of Addictive Diseases found that adding self-forgiveness to traditional alcohol addiction treatment had a positive impact on individuals’ drive toward sobriety. The study also found that participants had “reduced feelings of guilt and shame associated with alcohol use.”

Practicing self-forgiveness can help you break free from self-sabotage and teach you how to be more self-compassionate. It is also a great tool to help you love and honor your survival despite addiction.

How to Practice Self-Forgiveness

A great tool you can use to help you start a self-forgiveness practice is a simple journal. Journaling, in any form, is extremely powerful on the path of self-development. It can help you explore your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.


First, you can ask yourself about past situations, actions, or behaviors that create heavy, negative feelings anytime you think of them. When you write them down in your journal, you are allowing yourself to face these emotions head-on.

Another method is freestyle journaling. You can ask yourself a similar question to the one above. You can also simply sit with negative thoughts or feelings that come to mind. When they arise, you can put pen to paper and see what comes out.

Speak It Out Loud

Another powerful way to improve self-empathy is to simply say the words “I forgive myself” out loud. As you come face-to-face with each memory on your list, you can start to explore what self-forgiveness really means to you.

Through this practice, you can start processing your negative feelings. This allows you to take responsibility and move forward toward a healthy, fulfilling life.

Incorporating Self-Forgiveness Into Your Recovery Journey

Self-forgiveness is a great tool to incorporate into an addiction treatment plan. You can even talk about self-forgiveness when you participate in group therapy, individual therapy, or even family therapy.

If you’re early in your journey, you may want to seek out a program that provides comprehensive treatment. A comprehensive treatment plan should include both traditional and complementary methods to help you overcome addiction. You can find lasting sobriety. If you’re already in treatment, don’t be afraid to ask clinicians if they can help you as you navigate self-forgiveness.

For those in addiction treatment, self-forgiveness can be an extremely powerful tool, especially for overcoming feelings of guilt and shame. Self-forgiveness is also a great practice to help you learn how to love yourself again. At The Guest House, we have many different treatment modalities and tools for you to incorporate into your recovery journey. Our integrative care can include traditional therapy as well as holistic methods like self-forgiveness, breathwork, yoga, and more. To learn about our support options, give us a call today at (855) 483-7800.