“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”Marianne Williamson
Breaking the Chain of Addiction by Releasing Guilt and Shame
Addiction is much deeper than just substance abuse. There is almost always a deeper, underlying issue that leads us to want to numb the pain. Many of us drink or use drugs to try and escape from our deepest hurts. Whether it’s childhood neglect from a parent, unprocessed trauma due to the sudden loss of a loved one, or a variety of other challenges in life, it feels easier to drink away our problems than face them head-on.
But the problem is that addiction only creates a vicious cycle. This vicious cycle only keeps us locked in our grief and trauma. We feel terrible about something that happened in our past, so we drink to forget. We begin to feel guilty and shameful about our drinking, so we drink more. But the thing to remember is that holding onto those feelings of guilt and shame only keeps us bound in our addiction.
However, when we choose forgiveness of our past mistakes, we actively choose hope and healing. One of the most beautiful things about recovery is that it allows us to extend love and gratitude toward our past selves. No matter how dark our past or big our mistakes, when we choose to forgive ourselves, we begin to break the chain of grief and trauma. And when we break the chain of grief and trauma, we break the chain of addiction.
Learning to Forgive Yourself (to Forgive Others)
Recently on Positive Recovery MD, Dr. Jason Powers and Julie DeNofa were joined by Joseph Gorordo. Joseph is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor who has been in substance abuse treatment since 2009. In long-term recovery since 2008, Joseph is also the Vice President of Business Development for Recovery Unplugged, Former President of the Austin Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, and current President-Elect for that same organization. Joseph now creates opportunities for others to find their way back. He recognizes how helpless many families feel when witnessing their loved ones struggling with addiction and provides resources to help them on their road to recovery.
During their conversation, Dr. Powers, Julie, and Joseph discuss the greatest gift recovery can give us and why a strong community is essential to our recovery journey. We know that addiction thrives in isolation, but when we have people who encourage us, empower us and support our journey, we become free from our addiction. One of the most powerful tools we have is the power of forgiveness. When we learn to forgive ourselves and our past mistakes, we begin to learn how to forgive others.
Extending Love and Gratitude
The synergy that’s created from forgiveness of self and forgiveness for others creates an opportunity to extend love and gratitude. We feel love for ourselves when we release guilt and shame. By taking ownership of our actions and acknowledging the pain we may have caused others, we begin to unlock the love we’ve kept hidden away.
When we embrace love and extend gratitude for the lessons we’ve learned, we can extend that same love to others. One of the key benefits of extending love and forgiveness is that it releases any grudge or resentment towards others. When we hold onto the hurt and anger, it only prolongs our suffering. But we can move forward and build stronger relationships when we forgive others and release the pain. Extending love and gratitude opens the door to communication and understanding, which is vital in establishing deeper connections.
2 Practical Ways to Release Resentment and Invite Connection
While forgiveness is essential to building stronger relationships, it’s important to remember that it takes time. Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does healing. If you’re struggling with forgiveness and extending love and gratitude, here are two practical ways to release resentment and invite connection.
- Create Healthy Boundaries
Forgiving others doesn’t mean ignoring the pain they might have caused you. It’s holding them accountable for their actions while understanding that their past mistakes don’t define them. Broken relationships can be restored, but there have to be healthy boundaries in place. You determine the healthy boundaries that allow you the safest space to love yourself and love the other person simultaneously.
It’s important to remember that we’re not putting up walls, but we’re creating safeguards. These safeguards allow the other person a second chance to reconnect with you in a healthy way.
2. Take Responsibility for Your Actions (and yours alone)
You are only responsible for your actions and how you respond to others. Forgiving others is a monumental step in extending love and gratitude. But sometimes, the other person needs more time to be ready to connect. Sometimes the other person hasn’t yet done their own internal work to receive your forgiveness openly. No matter the case, it’s important to remember that what other people say and do isn’t your responsibility.
How they respond or react to you is outside of your control. It’s time to let go of the idea that we are responsible for other people’s actions. We can’t control if someone takes what we say in a negative light, but we can control how we, in turn, respond to their behavior.
In Need of Care?
Are you or a loved one in need of addiction treatment care but unsure where to begin or what type of treatment is needed? We are happy to assist you every step of the way. We invite you to call us at (877) 697-1383 to learn more about our 14 locations from Houston to Austin’s Hill Country and our full continuum of care ranging from Detox through Aftercare. Together, we can THRIVE in recovery.