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Alcohol and Mental Health

10 Powerful Ways To Practice Self-Forgiveness

June 28, 2023
10 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 28, 2023
10 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 28, 2023
10 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 28, 2023
10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 28, 2023
10 min read

Life is an ever-evolving process. We will — all of us! — inevitably make mistakes, experience setbacks, and face hardships. But while we're quick to forgive others for their missteps, we often struggle to extend that same grace to ourselves. As we face the challenges of changing our relationship with alcohol, self-forgiveness becomes even more vital. It's the key to releasing guilt, embracing our human imperfection, and moving forward with hope. Let's explore ten powerful ways we can practice self-forgiveness on our journey towards healthier living.

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledging our feelings is the first step towards self-forgiveness. It's okay to feel regret or guilt about our past drinking behavior. The unpleasant emotions are actually a good thing — they demonstrate our ability to express remorse and expect more from ourselves. However, it's crucial to recognize these emotions without letting them consume us. If we get caught up in them, we’ll be much less likely to move past them.

Step 2: Understand Your Actions

It's important to understand why we made the decisions we did. Sometimes, we act the way we do because of unhealed trauma, fear, or a desire to be loved by others. Reframing our actions from a place of understanding can allow us to see the true motives behind them, which often aren’t bad. Knowing this can help us see our actions as part of a learning process, rather than failures.

Step 3: Apologize and Make Amends

Apologizing to those we may have hurt and making amends can be a powerful act of self-forgiveness. It shows we're ready to take responsibility and make things right. If you’re able, initiate a face-to-face conversation with the people deserving of an apology. We can’t always control how others will respond, but we can take the mature step and address our wrongdoings.

If you’re unable to apologize to the person — you’re no longer in touch, they’ve passed away — write an apology letter instead, as if you’ll be sending it. It can also help to read it out loud when you’ve finished writing. Releasing these feelings can be an important step in healing and moving forward.

Step 4: Accept Imperfection

We all make mistakes. Accepting our imperfections can help us move beyond self-judgment and towards self-acceptance. We place too much unnecessary pressure on ourselves when we expect ourselves to always have things figured out and make the right decisions. Even the seemingly “perfect” people we encounter in life have their own regrets, insecurities, and shortcomings. Acknowledging this can be very freeing.

Step 5: Replace Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can keep us stuck in guilt and shame. Releasing this negative chatter and replacing it with positive affirmations can foster self-forgiveness. Pick affirmations that align with the message you want to get through to yourself. For example, you might say, “I’m human and make mistakes. I don’t need to be perfect.” Try saying your affirmations aloud (or writing them down and posting them where you can see them). Though their effect might not be immediately apparent, repeating them over time can help rewire your brain for more positive self-talk.

Step 6: Practice Self-Compassion

Being gentle and compassionate with ourselves, just as we would with a friend, can help us cultivate self-forgiveness. We wouldn’t be so hard on a friend in a similar situation, right? Let’s look at ourselves as if we’re one of our friends and consider how our thoughts and dialogue would change. We’d likely be much more encouraging and empathetic. Let’s extend this same level of loving kindness to ourselves.

Step 7: Reframe Your Narrative

We all have the power to reframe our narrative. Instead of seeing ourselves as "failures," we can view our experiences as valuable lessons learned on our journey. Every setback ultimately makes us stronger. A life without challenges would be boring, and we’d never learn and grow.

Step 8: Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, the weight of guilt and shame can be too heavy to bear alone. A mental health professional can provide support and guidance in our journey towards self-forgiveness. They’re trained in techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help us examine our thoughts and break free from those that don’t serve us. It’s okay to need extra help. Speaking to a professional isn't a sign of weakness — it’s a testament to our willingness to improve.

Step 9: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices help us stay present and avoid getting caught up in regret about the past. This focus on the present moment can help in the process of self-forgiveness. Our app has over 20 guided meditations you can choose from when you need to reconnect with the here and now. By regularly practicing mindfulness, you can build on your emotional resilience and foster more self-compassion.

Step 10: Celebrate Your Progress

Every step we take towards self-forgiveness and healthier living is worth celebrating. Recognizing our progress helps build self-esteem and reinforces our commitment to change. You’re doing the hard work of changing! And truthfully, most people don’t get this far. Acknowledge your little wins, and be proud of how far you’ve come in your healing journey!

Final Thoughts

As we strive to cut back or quit drinking alcohol, practicing self-forgiveness can significantly aid in our journey. It can free us from the burdens of guilt and shame, empowering us to move forward with self-compassion and resilience. By following these steps, we can learn to forgive ourselves, embrace our humanity, and embark on a path towards healthier, more fulfilling living.

Let's also keep in mind that self-forgiveness isn't a destination — it's an ongoing process. So, as we journey on, let's be patient with ourselves, celebrating every step we take towards a healthier and more forgiving relationship with ourselves. After all, life is all about growth and learning, and each stumble is just another step forward.

Practice Self-Forgiveness With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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