Those of us struggling with addiction and mental health issues often share a lack of self-forgiveness in common. We have a very hard time moving past the things we’ve done wrong. We haven’t come to a place of acceptance about our mistakes, shortcomings and wrongdoings. We carry the heavy weight of shame with us for years, often long after the transgression in question. We see ourselves as shameful, bad people who aren’t deserving of forgiveness. We feel our loved ones and our higher power should not forgive us. We stay angry and unforgiving with ourselves for much of our lives, exacerbating our already low self-esteem and chipping away at our sense of self-worth. We create a self-image and a self-perception of ourselves based on self-hatred and self-rejection. We don’t view ourselves with compassion or acceptance. We’re constantly putting ourselves down, rejecting ourselves and acting on self-destructive impulses. Self-forgiveness is a crucial part of our recovery work. Without it, we’ll continue to beat ourselves up, judge ourselves harshly and treat ourselves unkindly, all of which push us to use our drugs of choice to self-medicate and numb the pain we’re inflicting upon ourselves. How can we learn to forgive ourselves?
Self-forgiveness is a healing process that requires us to go inward and explore our inner selves on a deeper level. It requires us to commit to our own self-examination and self-assessment. It invites us to take inventory of ourselves, our perceived flaws, and all of our mistakes and wrongdoings. We want to look at not only what we’ve done wrong, but why we’re having such a hard time forgiving ourselves. Is it because our caregivers modeled holding grudges, and we learned this destructive habit growing up? Perhaps it’s because we were conditioned not to have compassion, patience and understanding for ourselves. Maybe it’s because someone important in our lives hasn’t forgiven us, and we assume that makes us altogether undeserving of forgiveness. Exploring the reasons behind why we aren’t forgiving with ourselves helps us to turn those patterns around.
Let’s start to view ourselves not as immoral people but as survivors struggling with crippling addiction and mental illnesses, people who will inevitably experience feelings of defeat and disappointment along the way, as all people do. Rather than demonizing ourselves, let’s see just how much our pain can influence our choices, behaviors and patterns. What was the pain that caused the mistakes you’re unable to forgive? What traumatic experiences fueled the self-destruction that led to the things you’re most ashamed of? Let’s look beyond the events that took place, the painful transgressions that are hard to accept, and dig deeper. Let’s examine the underlying pain driving our lack of self-forgiveness. When we choose to view ourselves with more compassion and more understanding, when we see ourselves not as immoral but as human, we open ourselves more and more to being able to forgive ourselves.
At Pinnacle Recovery’s Utah Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program, we believe that we offer all of our patients the best possible chance at recovery. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.