Saturday, June 20, 2009

6 reasons to forgive yourself

I ran across this on the Huffington Post last night while the boys were having an all night RIFTS gaming party type thing with 6 of their friends, it is by self help gurus Ed and Deb Shapiro.

I don't know about the rest of you but I sure have a problem sometimes forgiving myself about things. I am my own worst critic. I have learned how to forgive others and even cut ties with people that continue to hurt me, but not so easy for when it is me beating up myself. Amy, whose blog, Making Space, had wonderful thoughts on "not touching the hot stove anymore."

So I think I needed to really see this last night. I wouldn't normally read a post like that on the HuffPo, but they titled it Dinner With Monica Lewinsky, lol. Well.......I HAD to read that! I am glad it wasn't really about Monica after all.

1. We are not who we were yesterday
Within the space of seven years every cell in our body dies and is reformed, our thoughts are constantly changing and our feelings come and go. We are literally not the same person we were a minute ago, let alone a day, a month or a year ago. As we are no longer who we were when we did the deed, so we can bring forgiveness and hold our past self with kindness and compassion.

2. Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting
Inside us is the equivalent of an airplane's black box: everything we have been through is logged in, whether we are aware of it or not. So forgetting something is not really an option. No matter how hard we try, it will always be lurking around the corner, waiting to drag our emotions down again. On the other hand, forgiveness accepts the presence of the dreaded deed, it looks it full in the face and says, 'Yes, I know you. Now let's have tea together and get to know each other a bit better.'

3. We can learn so much from our mistakes
By getting to know who we were we have the chance to learn from what we did. We can become our own greatest teacher by seeing how mistaken we can be, even when we fully believe we are right. Mistakes show us we are human. If we do not acknowledge our blunders then we are not only blind to our own failings, but we are also much more likely to repeat them.

4. I am ok but I don't always get it right
Forgiving ourselves is not the same as forgiving what we did. A bad or rotten act is just that, and no amount of forgiveness will change it. But nor does constantly blaming ourselves. For instance, Monica made some obvious mistakes - but to continually blame herself will get her nowhere fast. What we can do is to really accept what we did while forgiving that part of us that was unaware of what we were doing or how it would impact other people; the part that just doesn't always get it right.

5. Accepting ourselves, warts and all
When we do something wrong or hurtful we tend to beat ourselves up, to try to find redemption through shame, remorse, and even self-hatred. "I am such an idiot," "My stupidity ruined everything," "I am a hopeless human being." Forgiving ourselves is the opposite. It is a radical acceptance of ourselves just as we are, mistakes and all, so that we can know ourselves more deeply and honestly. And because, in the long run, it is only through such self-acceptance that we are free to love and laugh again. Remember: Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!

6. Letting go of the drama queen
This is one of the hardest things to do, but holding onto the story and the details of that happened is actually like a smokescreen that clouds our mind and stops us from seeing that we are more than the event, that whatever we did is not the whole of us. We can put the story down. We do not have to hold on to it, or keep repeating it in our minds. We can say: "I made a mistake, but I am not the guilt, I am not the mistake, I am not the failure, it is not the whole of me."

Forgiving ourselves is an ongoing process. Every time we criticize or blame ourselves for being hopeless, useless, wrong, stupid, for all the self-dislike and self-denial, for believing we deserve the bad things that happen, that we must have done something wrong to be so abused, for thinking we should have known better, that it was all our own fault, that we were asking for it, for rejecting ourselves, for abandoning ourselves, for ignoring or denying our own needs and feelings, we can simply say, "I forgive myself." We do not need to create more guilt, shame, or blame--the world has enough already.

Here is a little practice you can do. Sitting quietly, aware of your breathing, silently repeat, "Whether through my words or my actions, if I have created suffering for another, I forgive myself. If I have created suffering for myself, I forgive myself. May I be happy, may I be filled with forgiveness and love."

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