Once you embark upon your path of recovery, you may be tempted to be hard on yourself until you’ve hit a certain milestone of progress or have sufficiently distanced yourself from the mistakes of your past. The truth is that you can do the most good for yourself by forgiving yourself right off the bat. You’ll get much further in recovery if you treat yourself with love and kindness. Your future is something wonderful and healthy that is in your power to go forth and build–it isn’t something you owe yourself or must create in order to be worthy of being treated well.
It may not be easy, but learn to forgive yourself completely for every mistake you’ve made. Forgive yourself for your addiction. Move forward without holding onto negative self-perceptions so that you can build your new life free of self-hatred. As the saying goes, “living well is the best revenge” and you can overcome your history by making a new life built on a foundation of positivity, self-acceptance, and kindness.
The Freedom to Move Forward
Once you begin to do the hard work of looking at your past behaviors in the light of understanding your addiction, you may become caught in a pit of depression and self-hatred. This is a commonplace where people get stuck in their journey of recovery. You’ve lived for so long under the mental blanket of addiction that when you finally begin to come out from under it, you may be shocked or disgusted with yourself.
Although it may be tempting to see yourself as a bad person or to be so discouraged by your past that you see it impossible to get better, don’t let these negative feelings drag you down. The important thing is not what you’ve done in the past–you can’t change that. What you can do now is change your present course towards a future you can be proud of.
Being Too Hard on Yourself Works Against You
Although it may seem natural and deserved to be hard on yourself as you begin to realize the errors of your ways, this behavior hinders your recovery. It can even lead you back to relapse if you aren’t careful to overcome it with intention. Succumbing to the emotional weight of feeling like a failure or like you can’t be helped can lead to depression, isolate you from resources that could help you, and end up with you turning back to substance abuse out of desperation and hopelessness.
This is a false path. You do have a worthwhile future and the way you’ll get there is by putting in the work, starting today. The only way to fail is to stop trying. If anything makes you want to stop trying, like depression or self-loathing, then it isn’t in your best interest, even if it feels like you deserve to be hard on yourself. The most proactive way to be hard on yourself is to hold yourself accountable for forging a healthy future.
Forgive, Don’t Forget
Let’s be clear: forgiving yourself does not mean forgetting your past or shrugging off your mistakes as simply “the way you used to be.” You are who you are today as a direct result of who you were yesterday. Our mistakes are for us to learn from; otherwise, you’re at simply risk of making them again. Forgive yourself in order to release yourself from the darkness of self-loathing, but don’t forget your past. You can look at it like you’re making a contract with yourself: “I forgive myself for my past on the condition that I use it to learn how to move forward in building a better future.”
Forgiveness means giving yourself the chance to start again. Don’t be down on yourself and don’t feel obligated to lower yourself in the eyes of anyone else. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s always important to be honest with the people in your life. Your family, closest friends, romantic partners, and possibly even employers, are people you should consider opening up to about the full scope of your history, but only if you trust them and think it will serve a purpose to do so. Otherwise, you don’t owe anyone the personal details of your private life.
Don’t feel like you have to put yourself at a disadvantage or treat yourself badly in front of other people as some kind of penance; you are worthy of kindness, support, and a fair chance to get ahead in the world, just the way you are.
As you navigate your recovery, don’t let yourself get stuck in cycles of negative self-perception by holding onto your past mistakes. It may be hard to accept, but forgiving yourself for your past is the most effective way to build a future you can be proud of. At Everlast Recovery Centers in Riverside, California, we know that recovery is a lifelong process. If you’re struggling with self-loathing, depression, or any other negative emotions as a result of tackling your addiction, know that you don’t have to go through it alone. Working to forgive yourself for your past is what will allow you to move into the bright future that you do deserve without holding onto any old darkness. Reach out to us about learning how to incorporate self-love into your recovery. There’s a healthy future ahead of you and we want to help you move into it as smoothly and positively as possible. Call 866-DETOX-25 to learn more.