Practicing self-forgiveness after relapse is part of our healing process. We must learn not to see relapse as a failure. The fact is that relapse is part of the recovery journey for most of us. It isn’t required nor inevitable, but it is a reality. Learning to reframe relapse in the context of our wider recovery is essential. Self-forgiveness in recovery brings peace of mind and progress. Recovery can sometimes feel like two steps forward, one step back. The most important thing is that we’re moving forward. It’s what is meant by the saying “progress, not perfection.” Take responsibility, but always be kind to yourself. Here are three actionable ways of practicing self-forgiveness after relapse.
Embrace Acceptance After Relapse
Understanding acceptance is an important part of recovery. It is not surrender nor complacency. It’s also not simply a kindness we extend only to others. Acceptance means making peace with the truth about ourselves, what has happened and what we’ve done. The key to practicing self-forgiveness after relapse is accepting responsibility while letting go of guilt and shame.
Accept that relapse happened and accept where your decisions or actions may have played a role. It isn’t about guilt or blame. In this context, acceptance means trying to see things clearly and honestly and making peace with the truth. Personal recovery is nothing less than a miracle. You’ve made it this far. Own what you did, but also give yourself the credit you deserve. Know that acceptance is where you will find the peace you seek. It is both the calm in the eye of the storm and the focus you need to move through it.
Practicing Self-Forgiveness: Make Right and Move Forward
Having accepted that the relapse happened, the next piece is action. Be open and honest about it with people you trust. Part of practicing self-forgiveness after relapse is letting sunlight and air into the room. We know relapse is sometimes a part of the recovery path, so we don’t keep secrets in shame. Tell the truth and make any amends that are appropriate if you’ve done any harm or violated any trust.
Make things as right as you can. But also recognize that dwelling on the past and focusing on things we cannot change are both obstacles to progress. This step is about clearing the air so you can move forward with a clear conscience and firm footing. Practicing self-forgiveness in recovery is a process. Each of these steps will help prepare you to move on to the next by giving you closure and peace of mind if you follow them to the best of your ability. Try not to dwell or ruminate. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Keep your head up and keep moving forward.
Learn and Grow
Another key to practicing self-forgiveness after relapse is to use what we’ve learned to help us grow. Self-forgiveness in recovery is about accepting and letting go. When we accept what happened and our responsibility, we are sharpening our perspective. When we make things right by applying amends if needed, peels back another layer. Finally, we look for any lessons in what happened. Can we identify any triggers which were involved in the relapse?
Were there signs that we missed or ignored? What might we have done differently? Throughout this process, it’s important not to lose sight of your goal. We are practicing self-forgiveness after relapse. That means letting go of guilt and shame as it arises. We don’t back down from accepting responsibility, making amends or learning from the experience, but we don’t hurt ourselves in the process either. This part is where we turn lemons into lemonade.
Practicing Self-Forgiveness after Relapse
Recovery is about healing, learning and growing. Every challenge we face in recovery, including relapse, is an opportunity for growth. The keys to self-forgiveness are awareness and acceptance. We see the truth clearly, accept it, take any responsibility we have and put these learned lessons into practice. Doing the legwork not only helps us grow, but it helps us understand that we are worthy of self-forgiveness.
If you or someone you love is living with a substance use disorder, Promises Brazos Valley can be part of your solution. Please give us a call at 844-667-8240 anytime, 24 hours a day. There is hope and we can help.