One of the most fundamental parts of recovery is the importance of letting go of the past. In previous articles, we have referenced the Hawaiin way — how the native Hawaiin community has come together to utilize spiritual practices to aid people suffering from addiction, substance use disorders, or other mental and behavioral health disorders. The Hawaiin way does this by focusing on bringing the past, present, and future together as a way to achieve an improved sense of balance and harmony to your health and overall well-being. This practice can be exceptionally useful in your recovery. There is an importance to learning from your past but not letting it cripple you and your future.
What Can We Learn From the Past?
Learning from your past is a process of intense self-examination. The first step is to acknowledge the mistakes or regrettable decisions you may have made. Instead of reminding yourself of those mistakes in a way that evokes feelings of shame or guilt, you can use them to motivate you to maintain your sobriety. You may initially go through the process of accepting and taking responsibility for those decisions during your treatment, but you can continue those best practices throughout your recovery too. Be mindful of the line between beating yourself up and productively making a plan to improve your recovery process based on what you learn from your past.
Once you have learned everything you can from your past, you can begin making a list of reasons why you want to maintain recovery. This helps you to focus your thoughts and stay on track during times of intense temptation. Your list may look different from someone else’s — as it should. Your experiences are all your own, and your list should uniquely reflect that. The list can help remind you of your purpose during your most challenging times. Sometimes, relapse is the result of little lapses that occur. Staying strong during the little struggles will help keep your mind focused when darker times roll around.
Being in the Present
Another benefit of learning from and letting go of your past is that it will help you live in the present. One of the hardest parts of addiction is how much of one’s life slips away while suffering. There is so much that can be missed – special moments in a child’s life, family events, holidays, and so many missed opportunities. Being in recovery may not bring those moments back, but you will finally be able to live and take advantage of each day and whatever opportunities it may bring.
During treatment, you may have had the opportunity to take advantage of a relapse prevention program. Often, relapse prevention provides the opportunity for people to work on goals for their future. These goals are important for individuals to have a focused plan for their recovery, but it is still important to live in the present moment. There is no way for us to know what the future will look like. We can plan for it, but as many of us know, life is unpredictable.
Looking Forward to the Future
Acceptance of the past leads to a healthier feeling about it. As mentioned, treatment may offer the opportunity for people to come up with goals and create plans for their recovery and future. Planning for the future should always be done cautiously. Whether you do or do not believe in the idea of destiny, the reality is that there is only so much we can do to plan for the future. We truly have no control over what happens, but we do have control over who we want to be. A healthy outlook of our past, acceptance of our mistakes, and the ability to learn from those mistakes guide us in our path to recovery and help us to cope with and handle any curveballs that life throws at us.
The hope is that you have the opportunity to self-reflect and come to a healthy acceptance of the pains of your past as they pertain to your battle with addiction. Recovery offers you the chance to implement all you have learned from treatment into the real world of your daily life. If you are still struggling, though, take comfort in the idea that you are never alone. The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center is meant to become a part of your support network during treatment and throughout your recovery. If you ever feel that the pain of your past is posing any threat to your recovery, do not even think twice about reaching out to us for support.