What Is the Importance of Forgiveness in Recovery?
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Everyone feels anger toward something or someone at one time or another – this is normal. However, one thing is sure: Holding anger and resentment inside over an extended period does no good for anyone. Instead, it can take a toll on one’s mental health, overall quality of life, and ability to learn and grow. 

Forgiveness plays a vital role in recovery. It involves learning to forgive others for the pain they may have caused. Forgiveness in recovery is not easy; however, it can make all the difference in one’s life as they move forward and begin to heal. It can improve mental and physical health and potentially even prevent relapse. 

Why Are Anger and Resentment So Toxic? 

Anger and resentment are not good for an individual mentally or physically. When anger reaches certain levels, it can actually raise an individual’s blood pressure, increase their risk of heart attack or stroke, and raise their cortisol levels. When thinking about it this way, anger that is not addressed over an extended period can essentially shorten one’s life span. However, perhaps even more concerning is how anger and resentment can affect one’s mental health and prevent them from healing and moving forward. 

Anger and resentment can cause an individual to get stuck in a particular negative head space. It becomes all they think about, even to the point that they are fixated on it. This can lead to an ever-present lousy mood, affecting their patience and how they interact with others. If left unchecked, it can damage their relationships with people who never did anything to hurt them. These things can also cause an individual to overlook the positive things in their lives. 

They might not experience the same joy and satisfaction from good news or success that they once did because their vision is so clouded with anger. They may even struggle to feel grateful for the good things and people that they have in their lives. 

Perhaps most dangerously, anger allows an individual to remain in the mindset of a victim. They constantly think about how they have been wronged and how what happened was unjust. This is essentially only doing a disservice to oneself by prolonging their suffering instead of working toward connecting with others. 

How Can I Begin to Foster Forgiveness in Recovery? 

When thinking about forgiveness in recovery, it can help to think of why someone turned to substance use in the first place. In many cases, it is because something was done to them by someone else that they didn’t deserve. Often this comes in the form of trauma. 

For example, the individual may have been assaulted physically or sexually. A parent may have abused them as a child, or they may have lost a loved one at the hands of someone else. They could have also been bullied, been forced to watch the abuse of another, or been badly wounded due to another’s negligence. These things could have occurred recently or even when they were just a child. 

When something like this happens, a person experiences a lot of emotions. They try to cope in any way they can. Unfortunately, many turn to substance misuse to cope. They may also try to mask their pain by focusing instead on their anger and allowing this to be the primary emotion they feel toward what occurred. 

In recovery, forgiveness is essential because it allows the individual to heal and move on. This is not done for the sake of the person who hurt them. Instead, it is done as a service to themselves. Forgiveness can feel like a load being lifted off one’s chest, allowing one to finally take a deep breath. It can help a person begin to start focusing on what really matters. 

Forgiving Those Who Have Hurt Us  

It’s important to note that there are some things that some may deem unforgivable. They may decide they no longer want this individual to be in their life. However, forgiveness doesn’t always have to mean forgiving the individual themselves, just reaching the point of no longer being angry so that no more energy has to be spent on this emotion. 

In some cases, a person might have been badly hurt by someone but still have the desire to reach a point where they are willing to forgive them. This could be a formerly close friend who betrayed them or an abusive parent. Speaking with this individual and trying to learn more about them can help the forgiveness process. It can help the individual to see that even though what this person did to them wasn’t right, they may have been going through certain things that played into what happened. 

Anger and resentment are not good for anyone. They can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. These emotions trap someone in an ever-lasting negative mood that holds them back from seeing the good in life. They can also cause someone to be always stuck in the mindset of a victim. Forgiveness in recovery is so important because it allows a person to heal and move on instead of remaining stuck in the past. While it may be difficult, it is worth it and can transform one’s life in a very positive way. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at the Ho Tai Way can help. Call us at (714) 581-3974 today.