Addiction can cause people to behave in ways that can be harmful to themselves and others, even a person who is normally very trustworthy. When a person finally recovers they may feel an enormous sense of shame about all of the their actions and the events that took place during their substance abuse. Shame and guilt can be very negative emotions that can get in the way of recovery so it is important to learn self-forgiveness in order to move forward.
Guilt can be a powerful emotion that can compel you to make amends with the people you may have wronged in the past. But once you have accepted forgiveness from others, you need to also be able to forgive yourself for your past. The pain that you feel when thinking about your past can drive you to relapse if you are not able to forgive yourself.
Part of forgiveness is being able to accept the things that happened in the past so that you don’t dwell on them. If you are able to acknowledge that you behaved unfavorably in the past but that you are a different person now it can help reduce your guilt. Looking at the progress you’ve made and how you have changed over time can allow you to feel that you deserve forgiveness.
One problem that can occur for addicts is that they judge themselves very harshly instead of having an understanding and empathy for what they have been through. If you view yourself harshly you are not taking into account the feelings, circumstances and issues that came with your substance abuse. Putting things into perspective and having some compassion on yourself can help you to reduce feelings of shame and guilt that can become harmful.
Asking others for forgiveness is crucial in rehab, but forgiving yourself is equally important in order to have a successful recovery.