What’s in it for me? I have been hurt by something. Who was it – me or you?
To truly forgive, we must learn what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. We must learn how to forgive. For example, when I think about forgiveness, I instantly think of how someone has hurt me; an action or transgression that made me feel a range of emotions, like anger, pain, fear, and envy, to name a few. These emotions are not based on another’s actions, but our attitude about the situation. That is why forgiving someone is a process, taking time to work through these emotions and our reasoning behind them, it is not an event.
Just because we may have chosen to forgive someone, it does not mean we have to accept their harmful actions. We do not have to let someone treat us with disrespect, contempt, or in a harmful way. It is letting go of the resentment and bitterness, while honoring the right to healthy boundaries. We don’t know why others hurt us or why we allow their actions to upset us, but by learning to acknowledge our role and missteps, we can process our emotions in non-hurtful ways.
Additionally, in some instances, choosing not to forgive can be an effort to regain power lost over another person’s ability to provoke anger and resentment. As a result, learning how to forgive also means understanding when not to forgive someone. Learning to put this power dynamic aside helps to diffuse the hurtful impact when we are wronged. Asking questions, such as the following helps with learning how to forgive.
- what my role in this was?
- was I being the best version of myself?
- is my rigidity against forgiveness out of spite?
These are important questions when on the fence about forgiveness. If truly wronged against all your good-nature, then freeing yourself from the prison of resentment is as simple as forgiving.
How to forgive an addict
When you love someone who is an addict, how can you forgive them for the hurtful things they have done and said? Substances hijack the brain and elicit behaviors in our loved ones, over which they have little or no control. Most addicts don’t love themselves, let alone treat others with respect and compassion; there is very little consideration for the ramifications their use has on those they love.
Substances are used in an attempt to eliminate hurt and pain. Though forgiving an addicted loved one can be hard, and at times not possible, it is the safest form of compassion we can show, while still maintaining important boundaries. What can you change in yourself to elicit desired behavior from your significant other? Forgiveness is the beginning.
How to find self-forgiveness
If you have caused others harm while in active addiction, how do you find and achieve self-forgiveness? Acknowledging why you use and addressing those issues is a good place to start. What am I avoiding by using? Is it my negative self-worth? Is it my inability to love myself? Through working with others, self-reflection, and practice, dealing with those issues builds a foundation on which forgiveness is possible.
As momentum builds, forgiveness for the ‘smaller harms’ is possible as, clawing out of the trench, you are empowered by growth and change. Does this happen overnight? No – recovery is a process and the continuous act of identifying parts of ourselves that we don’t like, working on them, and changing, is the way to forgive not only others, but also ourselves.
Interested in learning how Project Courage can help support your self-forgiveness process? Contact us today and we can start a dialogue about forgiveness and recovery.
By: Liz McCall