Forgiveness Begins with YOU
Over the past year, I’ve struggled with the concept of forgiving myself for not doing more to repair the relationship of a loved one who is no longer with us. I spent countless days wondering what I could have said or done differently, and fantasized scenarios where the outcome was different. Sadly, I had unconsciously come to believe that the unbearable pain was an acknowledgment of my love, and forgiving myself was not an option.
I realized there was nothing I could have done to change the circumstances of the past; yet, the lingering sadness, guilt, and regret remained. What I hadn’t realized was I would be unable to truly accept the situation, or to heal, without giving myself permission to forgive. I mean…how do you forgive yourself when you’re filled with regret, guilt, and shame? Not to mention, the underlying self-limiting belief that says, “I don’t deserve to be forgiven”.
Forgiveness is an act of courage, and a gift we give to ourselves!
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of your personal struggle against what has happened, and to no longer be held hostage by past experiences that keep you from moving forward in your life. It is an act of courage that breaks down the invisible walls that we thought would protect us, and is a gift we give to ourselves.
Forgiveness is a process!
The process of forgiveness allows us to become open to gain wisdom from the experience. We should use this process to explore our actions, asking what we might do differently, and to set an intention to not repeat the thoughts/actions/or behaviors. There is often no way to undo past mistakes, but when possible we can/should make amends.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen in our heads…it happens in our hearts.
To forgive it is important to….
· Identify what you want to forgive yourself for, as well as, the limiting beliefs/negative emotions that are attached to the experience. If we try to forgive ourselves without letting go of the underlying emotions/beliefs we become stuck in a self sabotaging cycle that blocks the process.
· Accept the situation and circumstances as they are. We have no control over the past; however, we have a choice in how we respond to it.
· Surrender any attachment or wish that the situation could/should have been different. Be willing to look at the experience through new eyes.
· Receive wisdom from the experience. All of our experiences are learning opportunities.
Forgiveness is an ongoing process….
After we’ve forgiven ourselves, we may continue to have a hard time coming to terms with what happened, and the pain from the experience may reoccur. We can forgive ourselves and still believe we were at fault, just like we often forgive others when we believe they have done/said something wrong. Remember, we can regret what we did, and still be willing to accept we made a mistake. Remain prayerful knowing that forgiveness is a gift we can always give to ourselves. It is also helpful to remember that we’re all doing the best we can in any moment. The truth is, if we had known that our actions would have caused pain to others or ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have done it. And even if we knew that we were causing harm, we had no idea how much we would regret it in the future.
Healing Steps to Self-Forgiveness
Acknowledge what you've done, and how it has affected others.
Sincerely consider apologizing, asking for forgiveness, without making excuses.
Accept that you can't force someone to forgive you.
Allow others to move to forgiveness in their own time.
Commit to treating others with compassion, empathy, and respect.