Recovering from trauma is a long and challenging journey, and with healing from past struggles comes the process of forgiveness. However what’s important about this journey of forgiveness is not forgiving whomever or whatever may have caused your trauma, but rather forgiving yourself. Self-forgiveness is no easy task, regarding how hard people tend to be on themselves and their choices, but freeing your mind is an incredibly beneficial, necessary step in moving on. Specifically, in cases of addiction and mental health challenges, it is crucial to let go of your guilt and self-blame to restore stability and peace in your life. Are you trapped in your head dealing with negative thoughts and emotions? Learn to forgive yourself, stop resenting the past, and start living the life you deserve by following these steps.
Accept your past
The first step toward self-forgiveness is one that is seemingly simple but takes extraordinary amounts of endurance and acceptance to reach. Accepting that the past is the past, and there’s no changing it, no matter how hard you may wish you could. While you may not like to reflect on your history, it is essential that you make peace with it. Sitting around dwelling on the “what ifs”
and the “could’ve been’s” will not bring you anything but more pain and suffering. Learn from the past, but let it be what it was. Every day is a new day, and you have all the power in the world to change your life in the present, and in the future. It is time to let go of the pain holding you back to embrace the moment you are in. You are not your past, but rather what you choose to take from it and make of the present.
Recognize how you got there
With making peace with your past, you must identify the destructive behaviors that led you to a place you did not want to be. While the past cannot be changed, what you do have control over is ensuring that the past is not repeated. Whether you were surrounding yourself with the wrong crowd, under extreme stress, or got caught up in bad habits, recognize what led you to make these choices. For many, this is easier to accomplish by talking to someone. There are people out there that are dedicated to helping you overcome these difficulties. If you are struggling with addiction or mental health, seek treatment, if you just need someone to talk to, reach out to your family, friends, or a therapist. It is in your hands to no longer let your past define you and embrace where you are now and where you are going.
Plan your future
To let go of guilt and resentment, you must acknowledge what your goals are for yourself and how you will go about attaining them. Without setting new goals for yourself, you may find yourself slipping back into old behaviors, for you don’t have anything to live up to. Take some time to recognize what your values and morals are and how you want your life to look. Recognize that it is never too late to start living the life you dream of, and do not fear starting over. Find whatever it is that brings you joy, be it a hobby, spending time with your friends and family, or relaxing and allow yourself to enjoy these moments where you are now. It is much easier to let go and forgive yourself when you are actively taking steps toward self-improvement, focusing on where you are going.
With your reevaluated goals and plans, it is time to start living in accordance with them. You may have heard the saying that misery loves company. If you are struggling to forgive yourself for something you have done there is likely someone in your life harboring feelings of pain and sadness as well. If your difficulty in forgiving yourself comes from the knowledge that you have hurt other people, it is critical to make amends and apologize for the mistake you have made. If your choices have impacted yourself directly, apologize to yourself. This will indeed help you to forgive yourself, for regardless of how long ago the situation happened you are acknowledging their feelings, and you’re bringing peace to your conscience. You owe it to yourself to own your actions and begin the journey of self-love.
After all these steps have been completed, all that is left is to begin living your guilt-free, honest life. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of being human. How we chose to live after these mistakes is truly what matters. Take pride in the steps you have taken, and give yourself credit where it is due. Change and self-love is a long, painful battle that deserves to be celebrated. You have a clean slate ahead of you, with full control over your behavior and the opportunity to conquer whatever you put your mind to. Remember not to be too hard on yourself, while one is often their own biggest critic it is crucial to keep in mind that you are doing your best, and forgiveness is a journey that does not happen overnight. Acknowledging where you went wrong and making a choice to work on yourself is something to be extremely proud of, and as your life begins to change you will feel this sense of pride. While the journey is not simple, it is worth it, and you are worth it and deserve to live a life without this hovering pain. Celebrate your successes, recognize how far you have come, and always be patient with yourself.
– Guest Post by Matthew Boyle, COO @ Landmark Recovery
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer at Landmark Recovery, a series of top rated drug and alcohol treatment centers in the midwestern United States. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years and graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude. Guided by a relentless pursuit of excellence, Matthew and the team at Landmark are dedicated to creating a supportive environment for recovery, and fulfilling the vision of saving 1 million lives in 100 years.
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