Effects of Grudges on Addiction Recovery and Treatment.
The Art of Letting Go Of Grudges
If you are constantly bitter and resentful about the past you may be struggling to find happiness in the here and now.
The act of holding a grudge, even when you have been wrongfully treated in the past, can be detrimental to your mental health and wellbeing.
Healing from substance abuse often means that addicts need to let go of their grudges. If they don’t deal with the grudges, the bitterness can pull them back into an addiction without warning.
Addiction and Resentment
Those struggling with a substance abuse issue tend to have a lot of resentment. Addicts will justify their drug or alcohol use by blaming others and making bizarre rationalizations as to why they are addicts.
Essentially they are saying their usage is understandable and they are blaming people who have wronged them in the past for their current problems. Common grudges in addiction tend to be against things like:
Grudges against hypocritical family members and friends.
Grudges against people who fail to live up to their expectations.
Grudges against authority or people who tell them what to do.
Grudges against people who have abused or traumatized them.
Grudges against those who may have let them down in some way.
How Grudges Impact Substance Abuse Recovery
Holding onto a grudge in some ways can put your recovery from substance abuse in jeopardy. Negative thinking patterns are not something someone who is in recovery can afford. The dangers of holding grudges in recovery are plentiful and include:
Holding a grudge in recovery can give you an excuse to blame your failures on those who have hurt you in the past.
Holding a grudge in recovery can give you a reason not to do the hard work that needs to be done to aid in your sobriety.
Holding a grudge can give a person the justification they need to relapse. When life in recovery gets difficult, they can shift the blame and attempt to justify their relapse.
Holding a grudge builds resentment, and that can make it easy to fall into the trap of negativity that can put your sobriety at risk.
Holding a grudge impacts on the way you think and behave. It might mean that you are exceptionally emotionally guarded and this can make it hard to foster new loving relationships that are healthy.
Flawed Views of Forgiveness
In many ways, the way we view forgiveness is flawed. People tend to use so many slogans and throw the word around, yet we have exceptionally different thoughts on what it actually means.
Many people find it hard to forgive. So what does forgiveness actually do? What kinds of forgiveness are there? What is the concept of forgiveness? These are the questions that you may ask while in recovery.
We are led to believe that forgiveness benefits the person you are forgiving, but that isn’t what forgiveness really is.
Learning to forgive yourself and others is a gift. It is an act of kindness for yourself and not always about the person you are forgiving.
When it comes to forgiveness, people tend to think it’s about letting the other person off the hook, so that person will feel better as a result of your forgiveness.
The truth is, forgiveness is not specifically for the other person. It does not imply that you are okay with what the other person did or that what they did is ok on a higher level.
What Forgiveness Is Not
Understanding what forgiveness is not is the foundation of this unique concept.
Experts who have studied forgiveness know that you do not gloss over the significance of a wrongdoing against you. It does not mean that you “forgive and forget,” either.
With forgiveness, there is no obligation to reconcile with the wrongdoer or release them from their legal or own accountability.
Forgiveness is not letting the other person “off the hook,” in modern society we tend to equate it with absolution, excusing a person’s responsibility for what they have done. We use it as a symbol of releasing them from carrying the burden of his or her wrongdoing.
Forgiveness is not saying you weren’t hurt by what the other person did. It does not absolve someone of what they’ve done to you and it certainly doesn’t mean you were not hurt by what happened.
Forgiveness is not saying you weren’t changed by what happened. Sometimes we try to deny that our life experiences change us. However when something terrible happens, forgiving the wrong does not forgive the action and it doesn’t mean you have not changed from the course of events. It also doesn’t mean you feel the way you did before as if the wrongdoing doesn’t occur. Forgiveness does not deny you were hurt.
Forgiveness is not absolving the other person’s responsibility. It does not excuse their behavior or dismiss what happened as unimportant. It also does not imply that you will forget what happened.
What Forgiveness Is
The truth about forgiving someone else is that it clarifies that what happened is no longer significant for you, the person who was hurt. It is a way of letting go of the past and a pathway to moving forward in life. This can release you of negative emotions such as anger.
In psychology, forgiveness is defined as a conscious decision to let go of your resentment towards someone who has harmed you, whether or not they deserve to be forgiven.
Forgiveness is designed to give the person doing the forgiving a chance to free him or herself from their anger.
Oftentimes when in recovery from substance abuse people feel a sense of guilt.
Being able to forgive yourself for your mistakes, small and large, is essential to your well being psychologically.
People tend to have the most trouble with self-forgiveness for things like suicide attempts, substance abuse, and eating disorder problems. Such things are much harder to forgive and forget.
Keep in mind that self-forgiveness, if you tend to overuse it, can reduce empathy and your motivation to change or make amends; ultimately allowing it to serve as a crutch.
Just like everything else, when used in moderation and carefully, it can be quite healthy for you psychologically speaking. That is especially true if you are struggling to forgive yourself for something that isn’t your fault. This applies to things like being the victim of a traumatic event beyond your control.
How to Use Forgiveness in a Healthy Way
Don’t Abandon the Guilt. Feeling guilty when you do something wrong is natural. It may also be useful. Without this feeling you wouldn’t have a moral compass and where would you find the motivation to do it differently or better next time?
Not all negative feelings are beneficial. Shame can lead to feeling like you need to deny your wrongdoing and can make you feel worthless as a whole. Feeling like you’re a bad human-being can undermine your efforts to be better or change.
On the other hand, guilt is about feeling bad about behavior and its consequences and does not undermine your worth as a human. Recognizing that doing bad things does not make you a bad person makes you less likely to engage in hurtful behavior.
Therefore, healthy self-forgiveness is all about releasing destructive feelings of shame and experiencing guilt as a natural emotion to encourage positive change.
Own Your Mistakes. Self-forgiveness is only effective when the individual takes responsibility for his or her wrongdoings. Without recognizing the wrongdoing, what is there to forgive?
Self-forgiveness works better when constructive change involves acknowledging both the positive and negative aspects of yourself and your behavior.
People who can own their mistakes have more realistic and balanced views of themselves that makes them more likely to take responsibility for their negative actions.
Make True Amends. Until you have made it up to yourself in some way, forgiving yourselves is most likely to work correctly when you feel like you’ve earned it.
Sometimes it is obvious what needs to be done. As an example, if we damage someone’s property we can replace or repair it. However, there are other times where the action to make amends is not as clear.
Sometimes instead of going through the motions of atonement, we should consider how our behavior affects others and work towards future change.
Summing Up Self-Forgiveness
Self-forgiveness should not be all-or-nothing. It is a slow process that does not always result in a complete release of negative feelings. This is normal and healthy.
For self-forgiveness you cannot view yourself through rose-colored glasses. Having an honest response to recognizing your capacity to cause harm can lead to your potential for doing ‘good’ in this world.
The Purpose of Forgiveness in Recovery
Those with substance abuse problems at their core are gentle people who are hiding from emotional pain.
Figuring out whom you hold responsible for your pain can be difficult. Oftentimes, it is someone who is close to you and it is easier to pretend that person did not hurt you. You might even take on the blame yourself or perhaps it was you who hurt yourself.
Either way, you need to learn to accept the truth of your pain. As you start to face the facts and work through your denial and deception, life and sobriety will begin to get easier.
You’ll begin to understand the truth of your situation and this can be a huge step in recovery. At the same time it tends to lead to an anger that you have denied for long time. You refused to feel this way while you were actively in your addiction and your addiction may have even helped you hide it from both yourself and others.
This is a powerful type of anger that needs to be addressed. Anger is a natural emotion to feel and to overcome it you have to recognize that it exists in order to release it and move forward in your pathway to healing. That is where forgiveness becomes exceptionally important.
Forgiveness is a difficult thing for some people, being open-minded and empathetic with yourself and what you have been through is a key to your recovery.
Forgiving others and yourself allows you to grow as a human being and opens you up to a happier, healthier, and sober lifestyle that is a lot more enjoyable than before.
Kindness comes from forgiveness and you will get what you put into your own forgiveness efforts.
Forgiveness allows you to become unstuck and will move you forward on your journey to a happier life.
Need Help recognizing, understanding, and dealing with Resentment and Grudge issues?
If you want to begin finding out about Grudges and learning how to deal with them, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.
The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.
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Tips For Letting Go of Anger And Resentment, From Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins, peak performance strategist, talks about strategies to avoid holding a grudge and learning to let go.
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