8 Tips About Learning to Forgive Yourself We Can All Learn from Addicts in Recovery

learning to forgive yourself

Substance abuse costs United States taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

This is an economic burden that we all share. But for family members and friends of an addict, substance abuse can be additionally destructive. They may feel used, taken advantage of, or just not understand your condition. But no matter how you have made others feel, you have to forgive yourself if you want to move forward.

But just because you have been a burden in the past, does not mean that you have to continue to live this way. You are worthy of love, forgiveness, and a successful life.

Check out these tips for learning to forgive yourself and feel better today.

1. Practice Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance is a term used in dialectical behavioral therapy to refer to accepting everything as it is.

What this means when you look at yourself is accepting where you are right now, what your current limitations are, and what it will take to get yourself to where you want to be. If you can accept yourself fully, you will be able to see yourself honestly for the first time and you will be able to better map the steps that you need to take for success.

Practicing radial acceptance is also important in other areas of your life. You need to accept others and their actions for what they are. If someone does something that upsets you or attempts to knock you off course you need to be able to view their action objectively without considering what it means to you emotionally.

When you are facing depression or experiencing feelings of failure, you have to learn to face the feelings and accept all that comes your way. You have to learn to let the negative thoughts run right past you, and only hold on to the thoughts that serve you.

2. Think of Yourself as Past, Present, and Future Versions

The human psyche is very complex and not fully understood by anyone, no matter what they tell you. We all experience reality in a different way based on our own perspective.

But what many people don’t realize is not only do we not perceive things the same way as others, but we also don’t perceive things the same way as past versions of ourselves.

For recovering addicts, it’s easy to see that they had a warped view in the past. But if your life change hasn’t been that drastic, it can feel like you’ve always been the same person.

It’s important that you forgive your past self for their ignorance. That you let go of the pain and shame you feel from acting in a way that you regret. You need to see that version of yourself as someone different from who you are now so that you can begin to feel compassion for them.

You also should imagine the future version of yourself, the highest version of yourself. But don’t put them on a pedestal. Instead, you should see this version of yourself as a child who can’t provide for itself.

The only way future you will have money to eat, a roof over your head, and the ability to do the things you want to do is if present you steps up and provides it for them. Many people talk about the things they do for their children that they don’t do for themselves, but today is the day present you steps up to the plate.

3. Contextualize Your Mistakes

Whatever your mistakes have been in the past, they did not occur in a vacuum. As a human being, you naturally react to your circumstances.

It takes a multitude of bad thoughts and misfortunate circumstances to lead up to a major mistake. No one wakes up one morning and says, “Okay, today is the day I ruin my life.”

You need to understand what the triggers were that were in place to cause you to act in the way you did. Figure out what the context was for the mistake you made and forgive yourself for the choice.

For example, if you made the mistake of drinking and driving, who were you with at the time? Was there any other way for you to get where you were going? Why did you see driving as the only way?

Once you have identified these factors, you can learn how to handle the stressors more easily next time you face them. You can put a plan in place to manage them. That way, you can get off the treadmill of making the same mistake over and over again.

4. Learning to Forgive Yourself Takes Time

No matter how many lists you read, Youtube videos you watch, or counseling sessions you attend, forgiving yourself fully will take a long time. There is no way to rush the process.

It took you a long time to get to the point where you made serious mistakes, and it will take just as long to rebuild to what you had.

Just make sure you stick to the plan and don’t stray from the path. Know that sometimes you’re going to have a bad day and you might make a mistake again, but don’t let that knock you back to square one.

Once again, just contextualize the mistake, radically accept it, and set future you up for success. If you sit around beating yourself up, you’re just going to feel terrible, nothing will get done, and tomorrow you will wake up feeling miserable.

5. Acceptance Starts Today

When you come up with a good plan for self-healing, it can be tempting to want to have it start tomorrow. But what you need to realize is, future you doesn’t want to be uncomfortable any more than you do right now.

When you put a bunch of stuff on future you’s plate, they will become overwhelmed and potentially backslide. Instead of forming a lot of plans for the way you will be different in the future, focus on the things that you can do to make things better right now.

If your home has been a mess because you have been facing depression or dealing with a substance abuse issue, then don’t make plans to clean the entire thing tomorrow, just get up and start putting some things away.

Try not to overthink the process. Allow present you to feel like they are being effective. It will spur you on to more progress in the future, instead of leaving your future self in an overwhelmed state.

If you are interested in finding a substance abuse facility to recover from your addiction, discover more today.

6. It’s Never too Late

Many people think that they have messed up too much in life and now can’t forgive themselves, let alone ask others to forgive them.

But it’s never too late for anyone to change their life. As far as we know, this is the only life you will ever have, so you have to work with what you got.

If you have people in your life who are putting you down and making you feel like you can never change, they should become your biggest motivating factors.

Start reading stories of people who have turned their life around. You’ll be shocked to see where some of your favorite historical heroes and pop culture phenomenon started out.

7. Others Will Follow Your Lead

When you first start to make major life changes, the people around you may become wary. You probably have made efforts to change before but have been unsuccessful, that’s the nature of being human.

Just stick it out and get through the ridicule. Hold steady and prove to them that you are making permanent positive changes.

If you lost friends due to your past mistakes, give them time to see that the changes you make are lasting so that they feel like can open up their hearts to you again. It’s very emotionally painful to love someone who isn’t living their life the way that they should be, and you need to show them that they can care about you again.

Over time, you’ll see that more people come back into your life, and maybe some won’t. But stay the course and accept yourself completely if you want anyone to follow your lead.

8. Just Breathe, it Gets Better

Many people want a quick fix to their problems in life. They think if they can get all their ducks in a row, then everything would be perfect.

But life doesn’t work that way. It’s unpredictable in the most beautiful way. Learn to breathe through the struggles and the triumphs and make yourself present in every moment. Enjoy the beauty of where you are at right now, even if it means finding beauty in your imperfections.

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Learning to forgive yourself is all about recognizing who you are, what you can do to be more successful, and setting yourself up every day to achieve your goals.

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