An important part of recovery is learning to forgive and let go of your past. This means forgiving yourself and others and moving past the pain to allow yourself to heal and be free of your negative thoughts. Once you understand how to let go of any shame and guilt and move forward with recovery, a whole new life will open up for you.
The Danger of Holding Grudges in Recovery
If you enter recovery full of resentment and holding grudges about people who wronged you in the past, you may be putting your sobriety in danger. Negative thinking can lead to relapse and may hinder your ability to stay motivated in your newly sober lifestyle. Holding grudges can often give you a reason to justify a relapse by saying that you returned to using drugs and alcohol to deal with past hurts. If you let past grudges affect your overall thinking and ability to grow emotionally in recovery, you are not hurting others: you are hurting only yourself.
How to Forgive & Let Go of the Past
Not being able to forgive yourself or others while in recovery can hold you back and increase the risk for a relapse. If you cannot forgive someone for something they did to you, no matter if they were wrong or not, the lasting feelings of anger and bitterness can harm your health and well-being. Some people may even want vengeance on the person who hurt them. If you do not learn to forgive, these feelings can only continue to hurt you or cause problems in your life. By learning to forgive, you will learn to embrace your inner peace and find joy and gratitude in your life. Forgiveness will not only help you emotionally, but physically and spiritually as well.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, reaching forgiveness and letting go of past wrongs is encouraged. Step 8 of the 12 steps encourages you to make a list of all persons you harmed and be willing to make amends to those people. Step 9 mentions making direct amends to individuals you have wronged except if that would cause injury to them or others. This step is important since it holds you accountable for what you have done and allows you to move forward in recovery. Finding forgiveness while in recovery will allow you to move on from the past and forgive yourself and others for past mistakes.
There are many ways you can let go of past hurts and move forward in your life:
- Forgive yourself. In order to recover from guilt or shame, you must learn to forgive yourself and let go of any harm you may have caused others during your addiction. When you let go of the guilt and shame about your past, you can not only learn from your mistakes but also begin to regain your self-esteem. You will also be more able to forgive those who have hurt or harmed you in the past.
- Avoid negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can have an impact on your sobriety. Setting realistic goals for your recovery and avoiding negative self-talk can have a positive, lasting impact on your life.
- Find new ways to cope. You most likely used drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings of guilt or shame due to your wrongdoings. You will now need to find new, healthy ways to cope and these are what will allow you to let go of the past and continue moving forward. Some people find journaling or meditating to be helpful in coping and reflecting on their feelings.
- Establish new relationships. In order to let go of the past, you may need to cut ties with those who may jeopardize your sobriety. You may need to set boundaries with friends or family who do not encourage your recovery. Establishing new relationships or redefining existing ones are key to moving forward in your journey.
- Be kind to yourself. You will want to show yourself kindness and recognize how far you’ve come in your journey.
Support Is Available
If you are looking for support while you are in recovery, the staff at Mountain Laurel Recovery Center is here to help 24/7. We have tools to help educate and support you on your sober journey and offer a variety of services to meet your personal needs as well as 12-step support, family programs, and holistic treatments. To speak to one of our staff members, contact us today.