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What Role Does the Past Play in Recovery?

The past can be a place full of roadblocks you set for yourself, intentionally or unintentionally. Healthy reflection on the past is necessary to learn and grow; an unhealthy obsession with the past keeps people stuck and unable to move forward. 

Many people with substance use disorder (SUD) and other mental health issues frequently have a history that causes them to feel negative emotions like shame or regret. Trauma, particularly childhood trauma, can predispose people to SUD and other co-occurring diagnoses, like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We can learn from our past, but once the lesson is learned, it is essential to release the memory and negative emotions that go with it. 

“Some Things Are Best Left in the Past”

The old adage, “some things are best left in the past,” is true, but why? The answer is that you can’t recover from what you have been through and heal until you can stop dwelling on negative memories. You can learn to leave the past behind by remembering:

  • The past doesn’t affect the future and doesn’t define what your future will be
  • Don’t allow yourself to be a victim; practice forgiveness and release anger to reject the victim’s role
  • Take action in the direction of growth; learn from the past and use it to make better decisions
  • Therapy can help release the negativity of the past; looking at past events in a different way can flip your perspective on what happened

Does Trauma From the Past Prevent Recovery?

Past trauma can create a stumbling block to recovery if you allow it to, but if you learn from the past without ruminating, you can grow beyond it. Looking at previous choices can help you identify problems your behavior caused and help you learn to make better choices now and in the future.  

Must We Carry the Past Once Our Lessons Are Learned?

It is necessary to make peace with and release the past in order to make room for a positive future. You need to learn from the past but release the emotional pain. This will improve the view that you have of yourself and your life. When you release the past, you can move on to create a fresh new future in recovery and beyond.

In recovery, letting go of the past is a step toward forgiveness. A tremendous benefit of forgiving yourself and others for the past is that doing so removes anger. Releasing anger is healthy and makes room for more positive emotions. Don’t stay stuck in the past; by letting it go, you allow yourself the space to grow and become a better version of yourself. The Guest House offers trauma-specific programs that can help you release old versions of yourself and give you the tools needed to be successful in recovery. Call (855) 483-7800.