As you draft up your resolutions that you’ll be making in the New Year, consider this: could you use more forgiveness in your life?
If you’ve been affected by addiction, chances are you can. Whether it’s forgiving yourself, or it’s forgiving those who might have contributed to the onset of addiction, forgiveness is sure to eliminate existing bitterness in your life and strengthen your recovery from addiction.
It can be hard to forgive those who might have contributed to the onset of a drug or alcohol addiction, be it by giving you access to a particular drug, by pressuring you to use with them, or by causing trauma that might have led you to self-medicate. There are a number of ways that others might be involved in your addiction, but that doesn’t mean that you should hold onto the anger that you might have toward these people. Letting go of that bitterness and choosing to forgive, for one, can help you to repair relationships that need to be repaired. So even though forgiving can be especially difficult, especially when an apology never comes, it might be just what the impaired relationships in your life need. In addition, forgiveness has the power to help you break free of the anger and resentment that has been binding you. As Christian author Louis B. Smedes once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Turning to the scriptures, this particular saying might sound familiar: “if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). So if you are still struggling with self-forgiveness and are striving for forgiveness in the eyes of the Lord—a blessing that is available to all—there is one surefire way to feel more forgiveness in your life: forgive others.
Forgiving others is a great way to take gradual steps toward what might be the most difficult form of forgiveness of all: forgiving yourself. You can forgive everyone in your life for any wrongdoings they might have done, but if you haven’t learned to forgive yourself, then your forgiveness is truly incomplete. Self-forgiveness, after all, will help you to grow in self-love, which is essential for progressing in your recovery from addiction.
Mental health coach and author Judy Belmont once said, “Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what seems so obvious in hindsight.” Recognize that while you have made mistakes in the past, after making those mistakes you now have the opportunity to take those lessons learned and move forward stronger (and smarter) than you were before.