We might not usually think of compassion in terms of addiction and mental illness, but the more we learn to have compassion for ourselves and others, the more we can help ourselves during the very challenging recovery process. Our addictions are often coping mechanisms for our pain, the pain of our mental health issues, and the pain of how we view ourselves. We’re extremely hard on ourselves. We put ourselves down. We don’t forgive ourselves for the things we’ve done wrong. We aren’t self-forgiving or compassionate with ourselves. We feel intensely angry with ourselves. Similarly, we deny other people our compassion as well. We hold grudges and take comfort in our bitterness and spite. We’re resentful of people, especially those who’ve hurt us, and we let our anger control us. The more we allow these negative, controlling energies to dominate us, the more we keep ourselves stuck in the same toxic patterns that contributed to our addictions in the first place.
Many of us use our drugs of choice to escape the difficult emotions we don’t want to face, the memories of our trauma, our anger and unhappiness. When we don’t feel compassion in our hearts for ourselves and other people, it causes us even more pain. It hurts us to feel so angry and resentful, to hold grudges, and to be consumed by resentment. It is all another form of distraction from our healing, and we distract ourselves even more from how painful it all is with drugs and addictive behaviors.
We can build compassion by working to shed how judgmental and critical we can be, both of ourselves and others. We can try to see what pain and difficulties were influencing us when we did the things we most regret, and we can try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes when we feel unable to forgive them. We can try to have more understanding about human nature – it is in our nature to make mistakes and then learn from them. That is how we grow. Our life experience, and therefore our recovery, wouldn’t be what they are without the missteps along the way. We can try to have more love and acceptance in everything we do. As we’re working to heal ourselves, compassion feels so much better than the relentless anger and spite we’ve been clinging to. Compassion opens our hearts to true healing and profound transformation.
Your new life starts today. Let Riverside Recovery be your support system as you do the work to heal. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our addiction recovery treatment programs.