One of the most healing aspects of recovery is the process of making amends. This is the time when you reach out to the people you have treated poorly in the hope of righting your past wrongs. It is a difficult step in recovery, but also very freeing. It allows you to make things right with someone you have harmed and to start fresh.
In a perfect world, the loved ones, colleagues, and friends you apologize to would immediately embrace you and freely offer their forgiveness. While in many instances that do happen, there may be some people who are not so eager to jump right to forgiveness. They may be deeply wounded and unwilling to let go of their anger or pain so quickly.
Asking for forgiveness takes a lot of courage, and can require processing feelings of shame and guilt. It is wise to anticipate that some of the people you want to make amends to simply will not be receptive. It hurts to have them reject your sincere apology, but don’t give up so fast. Earning their forgiveness is well worth the effort. Continue reading to learn why you should stick with it and work through the process of being forgiven.
Benefits of Forgiveness
Let’s begin with a reality check. The substance use disorder likely impacted a wide range of people in your sphere. Restoring trust will take time and patience, and a willingness to prove yourself to them. Here are some tips to help you rebuild trust bonds:
- Keep Your Word. The only way to earn forgiveness is by showing the person that you will keep your promises.
- Establish a Healthy Routine. Demonstrate how serious you are about your new sober lifestyle by establishing new healthy habits.
- Communicate. Open and honest communication is essential in reestablishing trust in relationships.
There are ample benefits of forgiveness in recovery. Consider these:
- Improves Overall Wellbeing. Forgiveness can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and also improve heart health.
- Improves Relationships. Forgiveness helps to remove the negative emotions that can hinder a relationship. Once forgiveness is achieved, relationships improve.
- Reinforces Sobriety. Restoring relationships and trust will have a beneficial overall effect on your recovery. When people are in your corner, you’ll want to prove yourself to them by staying sober.
- Improved Self-Esteem. When you are forgiven you will feel better about yourself, which helps sustain sobriety.
Steps 8 and 9 in Alcoholics Anonymous focus on the importance of making amends to individuals you have wronged. Making amends and reaching forgiveness are intrinsic elements of the transformation process you will experience in recovery. Although the hope for achieving forgiveness does not always go as smoothly as you wish, it is still vital to your recovery success and worth making the extra effort. It’s also important to remember that self-forgiveness is a crucial part of this process and that seeking forgiveness, which you can control, is more important than getting it, which you can’t control.
Importance of Forgiveness in Recovery
Sobriety can shine a harsh light on the fallout of an SUD. It hurts to realize that you have inflicted pain on a loved one. Now you want to mend the fissures in these relationships, and that is laudable. If forgiveness isn’t forthcoming right away, don’t give up. Keep proving yourself through your actions and eventually, they will begin to trust and forgive again.
While you focus on overcoming the obstacles that are preventing forgiveness, remember to forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness is a two-way street, so your acts of forgiveness can also contribute to positive recovery outcomes. Learn to forgive yourself first, then you can work on being forgiven.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.