Forgiveness comes with time in recovery. Learning to fully forgive and let go of resentments is part of the twelve step process as well as the therapeutic process of treatment.
- Allow the emotional experience of hurt to happen: Being hurt, disappointed, betrayed, abandoned, abused, neglected, or any number of things which cause us emotional and/or physical pain is not pleasant. For most people and especially those who experience addiction, avoiding pain is a priority. Emotional pain is challenging and difficult to cope with. Holding onto bitter anger and resentment can feel like a better way to handle a situation as a means of maintaining control. Unfortunately, those feelings don’t go away. Allowing yourself to feel the emotional experience of being hurt is less painful overall than not feeling what comes up during difficult times. Forgiveness is a release for you and for someone else in letting go of the hope that the past can be changed. The past cannot be changed. Creating a conflicted present of emotional pain damages the future of your mental health, physical health, and the health of your relationships.
- Try Empathy First: Jumping to conclusions and making assumptions is easier and more defensive than taking the offense when you’ve been offended. You can never know what anyone is truly going through at any time. When you exclaim “Why would you do this to me?” you’re not often interested in the answer. Hearing the other side of the story might mean you will have to find compassion in your heart to forgive someone else’s humanity as they likely have or will have to do for you sometime. Empathy is the ability to recognise your own struggles and the struggles others might have in their lives.
- Follow The Golden Rule: When you are hurt or slighted by someone it is typically an initiative to bend the rules, as they seem justified. The golden rule, treat others as you would want to be treated, has no exception in matters of forgiveness. Instead of treating others poorly, even those who have treated you poorly, treat them as you would want to be treated, as you would have wanted to be treated by them. As the “bigger person” you’ll feel more empowered in your response and emotions.
Empower patients to live long-term abstinent recovery is our goal at Castle Craig. For over 25 years we have proudly served over 10,000 patients with high rates of success and satisfaction. For information on our residential treatment programs, please call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | January 22, 2020