I was talking with a friend about a falling-out he had years ago with a family member. I shared with him my thoughts (and a couple of my blogs) about forgiveness and that forgiveness is about him and not about the other person. During the interaction he said “It sounds like you have an easy time forgiving others” to which I replied “I do forgive others fairly easy, the only person I have a problem forgiving is myself”. There is was my Light bulb moment!
I have been a national speaker for years, helping countless caregivers create boundaries and let go of guilt. I’ve shared tips on self-care, positive self-talk and empowered them to treat themselves better and here I am holding on to un-forgiveness against MYSELF! I quickly realized that the un-forgiveness I held onto from my past mistakes was getting in the way of being able to live a full and healthy life.
We’ve all made mistakes (see Mistakes will be Made) we wish we could take back, however; the reality is, the mistake has already been made, the deed has been done, there is no magic wand that allows us to go back and re-do it to create a different outcome. We can play the shoulda-coulda-woulda game but it’s really just an exercise in futility because what’s done is done. However; by not forgiving ourselves we remain in bondage to guilt and self-doubt.
Here are some points to ponder to practice self-forgiveness:
- Was I doing the best I knew how at the time and considering the circumstances?
- Did I mean to hurt someone else by my actions?
- Are others still holding my mistakes against me? (99.9% of the time the answer is no)
- Will holding onto un-forgiveness change the outcome? (again you cannot go back and re-live the situation so the answer is “no”)
- If someone close to me were holding onto their past mistakes what advice would I give them to help them resolve the un-forgiveness? (Then give yourself the same advice)
- What can I learn from the mistakes that were made that can help me make different choices in the future?
Really evaluate these questions and then recruit a close friend or family member to help you in not only letting go of the mistakes but releasing yourself from the guilt associated with the situation. Choosing to forgive yourself allows you to move past obstacles in that you would not have otherwise moved past without doing so.
“Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” -Leo F. Buscaglia