Forgiving someone we want to forgive can be difficult. Forgiving someone we don’t want to forgive – or we think doesn’t deserve our forgiveness — can be harder still.
Forgiving yourself often falls into the latter category.
Even when you want to forgive yourself, you may believe don’t deserve forgiveness.
It is the Big Lie, of course, but how do you stand up against it?
After all, no one knows better than you the truth of your transgression.
You know if you ‘knew better.’ You know the moment you decided to forge ahead.
Knowing the heart and soul of your error can make forgiveness feel insurmountable. And yet, there it is.
Without forgiveness, you are stuck in a self-defeating battle that does no one – not the injured party, not other involved individuals, and not you – any good.
The truth is forgiving yourself is as much about letting go of control as it is about taking responsibility. In that journey, you find the answers for your past, present, and future.
Are You Worthy Of Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a journey. It begins, at its core, with shifting the perspective from passive, helpless reaction rooted in the past to proactive taking responsibility for one’s past, present, and future.
It is shifting from “I’ve done wrong, and I’ll never do anything right” to the active taking responsibility of “I’ve done wrong, I take responsibility, and I can do right things to help my life and the lives of others.”
Forgiving yourself does not mean that you are absolving yourself of responsibility or making light of a serious situation.
Forgiving yourself means taking full responsibility for your actions, committing to a path of atonement, and allowing yourself the grace to improve, try again, and go on.
Taking responsibility for your actions often means full disclosure of your transgressions to a trusted other (therapist, church leader, family member, or support group). In doing so, you are allowing yourself to take full responsibility and not be tempted to hide some of the more painful facts. When you put energy into hiding, you are not putting energy into taking full responsibility.
As you take responsibility for your actions, be clear about the actions that are your responsibility versus the actions that are the responsibilities of others. Sometimes letting go of the illusion of control is the hardest part.
Evaluate shortcomings that may have led to the transgression. If you notice you have a pattern of lying, then it is reasonable to commit to addressing that issue in therapy with the goal of becoming honest. If you notice that you tend to minimize your wife’s role as a wife or mother, then it is reasonable to address the basis of your self-esteem as well as your view of women in therapy. If you tend to sweep problems under the carpet, then it is reasonable to address them with your partner in therapy.
At the same it time it is important to shine a light on and fight for what is best in you..
Allow yourself the grace to try again – perhaps harder this time and certainly with more mindfulness.
While perfectly made, we are, none of us, perfect. You probably wouldn’t feel shame if you didn’t have the capacity to know better and do better. You probably wouldn’t feel guilt if you didn’t know how you wished it would have played out.
Allow yourself to grow closer to your potential, you will have that much more positive energy to share with those around you.