“Forgiveness isn’t approval for what has happened, it’s choosing to rise above it”
If you are struggling to recover emotionally from a divorce or other challenging transition in your life, have you ever considered it might be because you haven’t forgiven yourself?
Maybe you have played the blame game and want to point fingers, or maybe you are struggling with the hurt and anger from the past and are tormenting yourself about what role you played in said situation.
Here is the truth, it doesn’t matter why your marriage ended, why you got fired, why life decided to throw a shitstorm your way. By holding onto all of the negative feelings that come up, you are preventing yourself from moving forward.
But self-forgiveness, can often be a hell of a lot harder than forgiving someone else, am I right?
“Forgive yourself first. Release the need to replay a negative situation over and over again in your mind. Don’t become a hostage to your past by always reviewing and reliving your mistakes. Don’t remind yourself of what you should have, could have, or would have done. Release it and let it go. Move on.” -Les Brown
Everyone makes mistakes. We have all done things in our lives that we wish we could take back. They eat at us, and we feel awful about them. Maybe not daily but something often triggers a memory that can feel like it’s haunting you.
During my personal growth journey, I focused a lot on forgiving others, and I was forgetting there was one other person in my life, that I am closer to than anyone else, that I hadn’t forgiven for things she did—and that person was me.
Once I started focusing on that, I began to notice a change in myself. Forgiving myself facilitated healing.
Self-forgiveness is not about letting yourself off the hook. It simply means that you accept what has happened, acknowledge you can’t change the past, learn from your experiences and you work on moving forward.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger suggest that there are 4 stages of forgiveness:
- Restore (or don’t repeat)
My interpretation of her stages:
- OWN THAT SHIT! Even if you try to pretend it never happened, it’s not going away. Face what you have done. This is a hard stage because you might try to rationalize it or justify your actions. Even if there might be a tiny bit of justification, you need to do your best to set that aside and just sit with what you did or said.
- FEEL IT: Once you fully accept responsibility, this is where guilt and shame can enter which sometimes makes you want to start rationalizing or justifying again. This stage can be emotional, bringing up feelings of worthlessness or depression. But the guilt is natural. Feel it!
- WRITE IT/SAY IT: Write yourself a letter. Just for you. Tell yourself in this letter that you are forgiving yourself for XX. There is something to be said for getting your thoughts on paper, writing can be liberating. After it’s written read it out loud to yourself and then—get rid of it. Burn it or rip it up and let it go. Say it involves expressing remorse to another person. This isn’t always necessary in self-forgiveness; however, you might feel it’s necessary for your healing. Be prepared for the fact that the person on the other end might not be at a place yet in their life to forgive you—however, step can still be beneficial for you.
- LEARN YOUR LESSON: Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from your experience so you don’t repeat them and use them as an opportunity to grow. Change includes doing meaningful actions that will make a difference in your future.
Self-forgiveness is not something you do for others—it’s something you do for yourself.
- Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean you are excusing your action.
- Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean you will never think about the situation again.
- Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean you should forget the incident ever happened.
Whether you are working through a trivial mistake you’ve made or one that influences many areas of your life, the stages you need to take in order to forgive yourself will look and feel the same.
By forgiving yourself you are accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution with it. Being able to move forward in your life can be hard to do if you aren’t making peace with yourself from within. Forgiving yourself truly is treating yourself with kindness.
Remember, You Got This!
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