To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.Lewis B. Smedes
The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love.
Forgiveness is a decision to let go of feelings of anger, resentment, vengeance and retribution towards someone who may have wronged you. While you may be lenient and generous with forgiving others, you could be hard on yourself. Often times, I find myself falling into this category. To name a few, I had a hard time forgiving myself for the kind of things I had to do to prove my love to people or the kind of things I had to do to survive.
I once stayed in a toxic relationship that negatively changed my perception about relationship and love. Why did I let myself be treated that way? Why did I stoop so low? Why didn’t I leave even before it got so crazy? I constantly asked myself over and over even after that relationship had ended years ago.
The self-criticisms were endless and I really didn’t show mercy on myself. Despite all these, there was still that part within me that was FINDING ME, a part of me that yearned to end the anger and rejection I felt towards myself for the kind of choices I made.
Recently, I was speaking to a friend and she told me how she finds it extremely difficult to look into the mirror due to the lack of reconciliation she had with her past. The good thing about her situation is that she acknowledged that she had some letting go to do and she was looking for ways to stop being a prisoner to her past.
Just like my friend too, I yearned for freedom. I knew I was in chains but my initial approach was wrong, I struggled to prove to myself that I wasn’t that person I was in the past. I did things that made me look smart just to feel better; I took courses, learnt new things but they never really helped until I tried the Four R’s of Forgiveness’ approach.
The responsibility stage is probably the hardest because here you must accept your actions, drop all excuses, justifications, surrender and be compassionate towards yourself. Understand that at that point, you did the best thing you could think of.
A lot of people keep on criticizing themselves but it barely works. Look at this, you’ve been yourself criticizing for years but it hasn’t worked? If I am to take a guess, I would say “no”. So, try approving yourself and taking responsibility like I did at the responsibility stage and see what happens.
I accepted everything that happened. I acknowledge that it can’t be wiped out, removed, altered or changed and I decided to move on with my life without ruminating over the past.
As a result of taking responsibility, you may experience negative feelings like guilt or shame. Instead, use these feelings to help u get stronger. While it is okay to feel guilty, quickly rule out any feelings of shame. At this point, stop blaming yourself be more compassionate and loving towards yourself.
Repair the damage and restore trust:
Making amends is an important part of forgiveness. Of course, when someone offends you and they make amends, you often feel better. Work on repairing the damage those things caused and this can come in the form of setting goals, seeing a therapist etc.
Forgiving yourself often requires finding a way to learn from the experience and grow as a person. Thus, to do this, you need to understand why you behaved the way you did and why you feel guilty. Think about steps that you can take to prevent the same behaviours again in the future and work on them. Yes, you may have messed up, but it was a learning experience that can help you make better choices in the future.
Victimizing or indulging in self-rejection does no good!
Let’s talk? Have you ever found it so difficult to forgive yourself? At what point did you realize that decision did no good and how did you triumph over the situation?