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Forgiving Your Past Self During Recovery

Victory Bay

Why is it that sometimes it can feel easier to forgive others than to forgive yourself?  

Forgiveness is a powerful act that can be hard to do, especially when it’s yourself that you need to forgive. Everyone has done things in their past that they regret. During recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, it’s important to make peace with your past and forgive yourself for making any choices that negatively impacted your life or the lives of those you love.

When you’re no longer using drugs or alcohol, you may feel more clear-headed and able to process all that has happened. It’s during this time that anger and resentment can easily make their way in. That’s normal and that’s okay. But at a certain point, hanging onto anger and resentment will only do more damage. Oftentimes addiction is fueled by guilt and shame and it turns into a vicious and what can seem like a never-ending cycle. Forgiving yourself is going to be a major key when it comes to maintaining your sobriety. Here are some steps you can take to address your past mistakes, make peace with them, and get on the path to living a healthy life.

Change your point of view

Addiction can cause you to do certain things and make certain choices that you wouldn’t normally make. Often, these choices can cause hurt and shame. However, try to remember that you are in recovery and actively trying to make healthy changes to your life. That alone is something to be proud of.  

By reframing your point of view, you can go from shame and guilt to acceptance and gratitude. Here are some ways how: 

  • Take time every day to write down what you’re grateful for  
  • Appreciate everything around you – the way flowers smell, how the birds chirp, how the sun sets 
  • Keep a journal to track your progress and make notes to yourself at the top of every page that will keep you motivated  

Focus on your mental health

Self-forgiveness is great, but it’s not going to truly happen until you sit and figure out the root cause of your guilt and shame. Working with an experienced medical professional or trained therapist can be a helpful way to identify your grievances, where they stem from, and how you can turn things around moving forward. The proper mental health care can make a world of difference in your recovery and provide you with the clarity you need to fully forgive yourself for past mistakes

Benefits of forgiving

According to SCOPE, published by Stanford Medicine, self-forgiveness improves well-being and productivity. Research has shown that those who practice self-forgiveness have better mental and emotional well-being, more positive attitudes and healthier relationships. Leading a more fulfilled life, free of anger, resentment, and guilt, can be a guiding light as you continue through recovery. No matter how tough things get on your road to recovery, you will have a positive outlook and peace within yourself to continue moving forward towards your goals.

Navigating family members

Whether you’ve been hurt by family members or your addiction has hurt them, it’s important to try to make peace with what’s happened in the past. Making peace and forgiving doesn’t mean the hurt was justified, but at the end of the day, holding onto anger and resentment will do more harm than good. Keep in mind that on this journey, you don’t have to wait for others to forgive you before you can forgive yourself. Trying to make amends is important, but once you do that, the ball is in their court. Give yourself grace for the progress you’re making.

Steps to self-forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Here are four steps you can take to get closer to forgiving your past self during recovery. 


Staring your past self in the eyes can be extremely uncomfortable. Being aware that past you made some questionable choices and accepting that without judgment can make a world of difference.


We all make mistakes because we’re human. When mistakes happen, instead of being harsh on yourself, take time to understand what happened, why it happened, and how you can learn from it and improve from it.


Regardless of where you are in your life and what you are doing, be kind to yourself. When it feels difficult, try to talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love and care about


Are you being confronted with the harsh reality of how a mistake of yours has impacted someone in your life? Be aware of it, understand the meaning behind it, give yourself grace and be kind, and then take action to make things right. Apologies are a great place to start but be sure to make sure your actions match your words.

Recovery with Victory Bay

We offer comprehensive Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and Outpatient (OP) addiction treatment programs. With our modern facilities and our experienced staff of healthcare professionals, we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099. 

Recovery with Victory Bay

At Victory Bay we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, including mental health, eating disorders, and substance use, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.