"To err is human. To forgive is divine."
Forgiveness is divinebecause it asks us to do something that is virtually impossible for us mere mortals. I'm suppose to forgive the people who wronged me? I'm supposed to just let it go? Forgiveness is hard because many times we feel (and actually are) entitled to our rage, hurt and pain. Feeling that rage, hurt and pain can feel good, but for how long?
After a while unforgiveness and the feelings it causes can consume us. It can make us sick. It can ruin our relationships or even prevent us from having healthy relationships. There are consequences for not forgiving.
What happens though when the person you have to forgive is you? How do you forgive yourself? Before I answer that, I should backtrack and tell you the what and the why of self-forgiveness.
Forgive yourself for what? Good question. You are forgiving yourself for mistakes, missteps and missing the mark. If you are beating yourself up about it, if you are drowning in a sea of 'what ifs' over something, if you are besieged with negative self-talk and thoughts about a certain situation, then you need to forgive yourself. Mistakes happen. Some times you let yourself down. Other times you do the best you can with the information and instincts you have only to find out later there was another way. It's okay. You have to learn what you can from those situations and let it go.
Why forgive? If you don't forgive yourself, you'll find that these past transgressions will keep you locked in a holding pattern, unable to move forward or stuck making the same mistakes over again. The negative emotions associated with not forgiving yourself will manifest somehow. No matter how you try to push those feelings down, they will come to the surface in some shape or fashion, usually at the wrong time or directed at the wrong person.
So how do you forgive yourself. There are different ways to do it, here is what has worked for me.
- Think about what you need to forgive yourself for. Focus on one issue at a time.
- Spend some time in meditation addressing the issue: why did you do (or not do) what you did; what can you learn from that mistake; who were you at the time you made the error and how have you grown and changed?
- Apologize to yourself for your mistakes.
- Recount all of the things you have learned from this situation. What positives can you take away from what has happened? What won't you do again? What will you do differently the next time a similar situation arises?
- Develop some affirmations or statements you can use when you start to feel that unforgiveness again.
Forgiveness is a part of love. To love yourself fully you must forgive yourself fully.