TGIF (Thank God I Forgave)
Last week I told a story about Jim who learned how to forgive himself and begin to turn his life around. While Forgiveness can be a POWERFUL psychological concept, we also have to beware that self-forgiveness can be tricky and we need to be aware of that, too. ‘What, Sean??? I thought all I had to do was forgive myself and others!”
That’s true and you should! Let’s look at a few things to consider also about self-forgiveness:
Guilt is Good: Well a little bit of it that you don’t hold onto and burden yourself with is good. When you do something wrong, it’s probably a good thing that you feel bad about it. It’s a reminder of your moral compass and you can learn about what do next time. We aren’t talking about the emotion of ‘shame’ which uses elusive tools to hide feelings of low-self worth which can make us feel very broken, we are talking about guilt which is a bad feeling about a behavior and not the self. When it comes to self-forgiveness, its good to let go of shame associated to things from the past but also being aware of feelings associated to guilt for things we have done as by taking responsibility over it. This helps us get along better with others and help ourselves tremendously. Guilt is a signal for ourselves to investigate what’s going on in our mind and heart, what to do about our behavior, how we feel and what we do.
Acknowledgment: Awareness is the first step, right? Acknowledging a wrong or misgiving FIRST allows us to move to into forgiveness whether that is for ourselves or others. Acknowledgment of all the sides of ourselves, our behavior, and forgiveness, including self-forgiveness allows us to look at what is really going on, why we did it, correct it for the future, and then not only own up to it, but do something about it. Getting off the hook all the time doesn’t, especially with ourselves, without really looking at whether or not we should might actually lead to sociopath-like behavior where we are always unapologetic for everything that we do even when it hurts ourselves or others. We must find a healthy way to acknowledge what has happened in order to not just have healthy social relationships but most importantly, have a healthy relationship with ourselves. Acknowledging leads us to responsibility.
Responsibility: After we feel a smidgen of guilt in our psychology and acknowledge that it is ok (and NOT ok), we can stand up tall (well half tall because we are half way there). Next, we have to take Responsibility, own up to the wrong-doing that we have done and then…do something about it. When it comes to Forgiveness, it isn’t just about sending a letter, having that conversation or any other act of forgiveness, its about owning up to it internally. Have a sense of pride that you are able to face yourself and own up to it. Because no one is around, this can often allow us to feel off the hook too easily. If we truly want change with the self, we need to take full responsibility for what we have done, maybe even share it with someone else, be proud and forgiving towards the self and commit to not letting it happen again. Just like when someone you forgive expects you to not do it again, you should have that same expectation of yourself. What could you do to help yourself be forgiven and hold yourself accountable in a healthy way so that you don’t hurt yourself again.
Empathy: Often times we feel empathy for the person that we have hurt but not so much for the person who has done the hurt. In this case where we are talking about self-forgiveness, it can be a tricky process. Making sure to be empathetic to yourself from both sides of the isle is critically important. Having a deep understanding of both the victim (you) and the culprit (you) will allow you go grow and not fall into the negative pitfalls of Self-Forgiveness.
Remember that this is about Self-Forgiveness and not Self-Indulgence to only focus on yourself, chastise yourself, and act like a God that relieves you of all transgressions; its about being human, exploring the best of you, the lessons that you deserve to learn, the challenge of letting go, and the beauty of moving forward.
It isn’t just about letting yourself off the hook but growing through the process to become a better version of yourself. Going the the process lets us stand tall.
It’s about making mistakes, having a tad of guilt that leads us to awareness, responsibility, having empathy, and ultimately forgiving ourselves…and others.
Learn how to properly self-forgive! It may change your Life! That is What Sean Knows!
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