Almost everybody can look back and reflect on things they’ve done and regretted. That’s definitely one option that many (including myself) have indulged in. But hey, let’s take this opportunity to do differently. Let’s start with forgiving ourselves.
Maybe because we were ashamed of ourselves, brought on by some indiscretion; we allowed someone to abuse us and inwardly we knew better. Perhaps we were mean to people who were trying to be kind or truthful to us – shutting them out of our lives. Maybe, because of paralyzing depression, we didn’t do all that we could have or got involved in some kind of harmful addiction(s). The list goes on. But now is the time to let it go and forgive ourselves.
Scientists say that you will find it easier to forgive others than you do yourself. Isn’t that peculiar? I’ve heard it said this way; treat yourself like you would your best friend. Would you do or say a particular thing to your best friend? No? Well, don’t say it to yourself. Wouldn’t you give your friend the benefit of the doubt? Then give it to yourself as well.
A chronic state of anger and resentment interferes with life. According to Sharon A. Hartman, LSW and clinical trainer at the Caron Foundation, “When resentment is interfering with your life, it’s time to forgive yourself. It’s been said that forgiving doesn’t mean not being angry with yourself, but it means not hating yourself.” Because, truth be told, we all mess up. Just don’t live in that moment perpetually or let one stupid period of your life define your life.
Hartman continues, “It’s about relinquishing a source of pain and letting go of resentment. People think forgiving yourself means you are letting yourself get away with whatever you did. The pain and anger you are feeling are supposed to be our punishment.” But the point is that the punishment should fit the crime. Don’t overdo it.
Of course, there’s therapy; but do you have a small number of friends or family on your side? Or a deep faith? Then talk it out. Many have found grace using these avenues. Grace is defined as unmerited help given to one, meaning, whether we deserve it our not, some assistance was extended. It is an act of love.
You’ll know when you have forgiven yourself. Hartman says, “You know you have done it when the memory gives you no more pain and anger. It’s as simple as that. You can say, ‘I am free of this,’” You never forget it, but it doesn’t trouble you as before. But remember, forgiveness is complete when we are transformed or when we have learned the lesson and will not allow ourselves to repeat the action.
Ultimately, by applying these suggestions, we will have a less troubled life. We will have a longer and healthier life. And we will want to live a good life despite our frailties.