Depending on whom you speak to in early sobriety you will get mixed answers as to whether or not you should put yourself on your 4th and 8th steps. Some people will say you have no right to do this and that you have been selfish for far too long and can no longer indulge in narcissistic thoughts about self. Others will tell you that you absolutely should because more than likely you did more harm to yourself than to others and so you should deal with the resentments you have against yourself and make proper amends. Regardless of what you believe about this, the fact remains, you have to learn to forgive yourself. It is an often elusive and yet extremely important part of recovery.
It is not something that is easily attained either because even after we have made amends and received the forgiveness of those that we wronged, we can still harbor feelings of self-hatred for those actions for a long time after. Why is this exactly? Why is that many of us after getting sober have a seemingly saintly ability to let bygones be bygones with others but yet when it comes to ourselves we must adhere to the strictest and most absurd levels of self-flagellation? We can think about that time we were rude in the 10th grade, 10 years ago, and fall into morbid self-reflection, which serves no purpose whatsoever besides keeping us bound to a past that no longer is us.
While in early sobriety not letting yourself immediately off the hook for the things you have https://dreamcenterforrecovery.com/let-go-resentment/done can be a positive thing, at a certain point this harsh self-treatment and inability to forgive oneself can actually turn on you and start to cause more damage than it does good. At what point do we stop paying penance for the faults of our past and move forward into a life of self-acceptance and forgiveness? There is no set answer for this as each person must come to this point in their own time, but when they do, they begin to see the futility of holding onto the past and realize that through their sobriety they have become a wonderful and loving person.
It is interesting because many people who get sober become some of the most amazing human beings. They are caring, compassionate, faithful, and altruistic, and yet they often have difficulty seeing this in themselves and so they hyper-focus on the negative things. In order to break this cycle of thought and exonerate yourself from perceived injustices, a good starting point is to understand that you were a sick people and not a bad people.
Many people who get sober come into recovery with a feeling that they are morally defunct and bad people because of the things that they had done. This makes it difficult to accept when people tell them that they are sick people and not bad people. That they wouldn’t have done many of the things they did if it weren’t for the fact that they suffered from the disease of addiction. Understanding that you have an illness, that caused you to act out in all sorts of atypical ways is a good way to begin to heal and let yourself off the hook a bit. This does not mean that you do not still need to make amends for the things that you have done but what it does mean is that you can place your actions in a context that is properly based in reality, and therefore take proper responsibility for them.
It is not your responsibility to continuously feel guilty for something that you did and made amends for already; in fact continuously feeling guilty does not help the person you harmed, but only further hurts yourself. It also blocks you from being able to help others to your full extent because guilt requires a lot of mental energy that could be spent in a more productive manner.
Another way to learn to forgive yourself is by being more gentle with yourself. Many alcoholics and addicts are perfectionists and anything that deviates from perfection is deemed a failure. This thought process often leads to harsh self-criticism and repeated self-chastisement. It is important to understand that you will not do anything in life perfectly and that no one is expecting you to. Giving yourself the space to make mistakes is a great way to learn to pardon yourself because in doing so you allow yourself the right to be human. This can be uncomfortable at first and your mind, after making a mistake, may instantly wander into negative self-talk. Attempt to stop this and redirect your thinking. If you hurt someone, then make amends for it but there is no need to then continuously berate yourself for a mistake.
It is often said that our relationship with others is a reflection of the relationship that we have with ourselves. I am not sure which way this correlation goes but in regards to forgiveness, this means that our ability to forgive others will mirror our ability to forgive ourselves. The more that we are able to see that people often make mistakes and we should not hold grudges against them, the more we will be able to treat ourselves in this same manner. This results in a better relationship with others and a better relationship with ourselves, and we begin to find true self-acceptance and abandon old harmful patterns of thought.
Letting Go Of The Past and Finding Treatment
If you are tired of constantly feeling guilty about things in your past and the things you know will have to do to maintain your addiction then give up the fight and call the professionals at Dream Center For Recovery today, at 1-877-978-3148. You are worth it and you absolutely can overcome your addiction. We understand how much your guilt may weigh on you and we understand what you need in order to move past this, so allow us to help you restart your life on a new sober footing.