Practicing Forgiveness and Starting the Year Off Fresh

It’s a brand-new year. That means you have 365 days ahead of you to make as wonderful (or horrible) as you want – it’s all about your perspective and how you choose to approach each day. Practicing forgiveness can help you to keep a positive outlook and continue moving forward in your recovery.

Active addiction can have far-reaching effects. You probably hurt some people along the way and said things in the heat of the moment. Other people probably did the same to you. Recovery is about having another chance and making changes. If you want others to support you and see that you have changed, you need to extend the same notion to them.

Holding on to anger and grudges does not help your recovery. In fact, it can be a hindrance. These negative feelings can keep you from seeing the positives, increase stress, and lead to a greater risk of relapse. Forgiving others (and yourself) can be hard, but as you do, you’ll begin to notice how it changes you. You’ll have more time to do the things you love and that make you happy because you’re not wasting days brooding and letting resentment ruin an otherwise good time. Also, the person you’re mad at may not even realize they’ve done anything wrong in your eyes, so it’s a one-sided battle anyway.

Ways to Forgive

There are many ways that you can practice forgiveness. Steps 8 and 9 of the 12-Steps lend themselves well to this – making a list of those you have harmed and making direct amends. As you work the program, you’ll be led to this point in your recovery and can further enhance your forgiveness. You could also:

  • Journal – write down your feelings so that you can see them in a different light. Once you get everything out, you may realize that it was silly to be mad anyway. Or, it can help you to see why forgiving the other person or yourself makes sense and allow you to come to terms with things.
  • Meditate – clear your mind and feel more at peace. Let anger roll off your shoulders and make it a point to keep a positive attitude and move forward with an open mind. When you start to feel stressed, take a few minutes to meditate and refocus.
  • Therapy – talk to a therapist about people or situations you are having trouble dealing with. They can guide you through strategies for forgiveness and overcoming challenges.
  • Positive people – surround yourself with others who have a positive outlook on life and have learned to let go and embrace recovery. It’s hard to stay mad when everyone around you is having a good time. Move past old grudges and focus on the present.
  • Assess the situation – maybe things didn’t happen quite like you remember. Maybe you weren’t the only one hurt. Weigh the risks versus the rewards of holding a grudge. What do you get out of staying angry? Think about how much better it will feel to let go and move on; like a weight lifted from your shoulders so that you can focus on doing what is best for your recovery and making the most of your future.

It’s also important to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. You are making a conscious effort to turn your life around, and you deserve another chance. You can’t change the past, but you can decide how you’ll approach today and the future. Crossroads can help you take your recovery one day at a time and work through the challenges that you face. A customized treatment plan can empower you to practice forgiveness and commit to a recovery plan that allows you to remember who you wanted to be and thrive in sobriety.

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