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How to Forgive Myself

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Written by   1
6 months ago

The opinions that I write are developed understandings that I reach upon time spent pondering. They are still opinions. Just as the world constantly changes, building and growing from a foundation being perpetually placed, so do my understandings of my surroundings, my opinions, and therefore the opinions themselves. No one person can know the answer, unless the source of all things itself were to reveal the answer to all. However, we can learn from each others ideas and opinions, and grow toward a common truth together.

I think basically everybody acts in ways in their lives they wish they could take back. Often, when we make an action that we deem to be “not okay” we struggle with it, emotionally. This can lead into regret, guilt, self-resentment, and other emotional burdens. It seems as though the way out of these burdens of pain through which we spin around and around, is forgiveness. So we go to the person whom we have “wronged” and we profess our apology and emotion around it in hopes that they will accept and forgive us. I think in a majority of situations, it seems as though forgiveness from another party is what is ultimately necessary for the first party to let go and move on from the burden of the guilt or regret. Sometimes, there may be no way to connect with the other person to find forgiveness from them, so the issues must be dealt with internally by oneself. So is that even possible?

Is it possible for a person to find forgiveness alone? In a recent conversation with an old friend, we specifically discussed whether or not a person can find forgiveness without another party involved. You see, he believes it is impossible. He referenced the bible, and a few verses from it trying to portray the importance of finding healing through others, finding forgiveness within others, and that one person is unable to do this alone. One major reference was to the story of David and Goliath, and how David went on to be King of Israel, did some terrible things, and later wrote psalms on finding forgiveness for the aforementioned behaviors. I agree that through others, it can be much much easier to find forgiveness. It feels like it’s almost validation, more than anything else. When someone else validates that I can let go of this guilt or regret I am holding onto, and which I feel so poorly about, suddenly I can do it. It’s as though I am given permission to let go by someone acknowledging that I am a “good person,” and now I no longer need to feel like a “bad person,” at least until the next issue arises. It can also be said that true healing can be found when two people work together through an emotional restraint like this. By holding space and providing support through a problem, a person can see who they truly are through the other party, and again find the forgiveness in that person that they need for themselves to evolve beyond their stagnant space. And honestly, this is excellent, and necessary to be able to locate that “healing button” within our own being. Though, the more I think about it, the less I am able to differentiate this from the idea of surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones. See, even without seeking forgiveness in these friends and loved ones, often times just the simple act of them reflecting me back to myself is enough to remind me who I am so that I may find the forgiveness I seek within myself.

So I do something shitty….It certainly doesn’t feel good, and I don’t mean to do something shitty, but I do. Then I have to figure out how to live with it. This often is less about finding forgiveness (for me at least) and more about dealing with the accompanying belief that came along with the shitty behavior or action. I find myself seeing that I acted in a way that is completely poor, and then I cannonball into this idea that because I did a “bad thing” I am now a “bad person.” I’ll be bold here if I may, but if that’s the mentality, then forgiveness may not do a damn thing toward letting that go. So to be willing to allow any forgiveness by myself, I find that I have to begin with acceptance. This involves me identifying what happened, really looking at the whole situation and allowing myself to feel everything it carries. This often involves me cringing, tensing up, feeling pain, etc., and takes me a hell of a long time to complete, because I shy away from what I don’t want to look at until I can’t procrastinate any longer. And I aim to do what I find to be the toughest thing: Face all of it. If I can face it, I can see underneath it. When I can see underneath it I can find understanding for myself, and compassion. None of this excuses the behavior, of course, though through this self understanding and compassion, I can begin to accept what happened, why it happened, and recognize the power I have to make sure it doesn’t happen again if I so choose. I find that facing the pain is the most difficult part of going through pain, yet when we shy away from it the pain prolongs, so the logical thing is to see and move through it, yes?

Okay, so even as I am typing this it all sounds so easy it’s almost fantastical. I believe it to be true, but it sure as shit isn’t easy! In the last 2 years, I journeyed through some seriously emotionally tough situations. In navigating these moments, I made a ton of a mistakes. Yes. Like, in some cases, some really tough mistakes to make. During this time, I was so hung up on all the mistakes, viewing myself as a “horrible person” for making them, and even being told by the other involved party that I was “the worst person they’d ever met,” or “absolutely evil,” etc… You get the idea. I believed them! I heard their dark reflection of me, and I believed it. I believed I was awful, and evil, and undeserving of love and happiness because of my actions, and through being so incredibly hard on myself I continued to make the mistakes, over and over and over again. I became what I feared because I believed what I feared was true within myself. So when I was finally able to eject myself from that situation I was left with the following statement from the other party: “I don’t know how you’re ever going to forgive yourself for what you’ve done.” — — That stung, because truthfully neither did I. And then, days passed, and weeks, months.. And I just keep working on myself. My practices become these moments where I stop and really look at the things I did and said. I acknowledge them, own them, and accept responsibility for them within myself. This means that I accept myself, understand myself, and work on my awareness to make different and “better” choices in the future. Now mind you, I also attended therapy and spoke to some people about it, but not in terms of seeking forgiveness. For me, it was about being able to tell people about my mistakes and own myself as I am in that moment in front of them, without bringing up the mistakes of the other party in our interaction. So others’ acceptance of my mistakes was certainly helpful as well…. and that’s one of the major things I find it so easy to forget when so down on oneself: Other people love me. I am accepted by them, therefore I can easily be accepted by myself.

How do I accept myself where I am? I find that the only way I can accept, love, understand, care for, and even forgive myself is if I separate the “me” from the “self.” To do that, I have to sit in the very center of me, and look at myself with compassion as though I am a separate person. Which, I am. I am not my body, I am not my thoughts, and I am not my name. I am not even any of the things I have done. I am simply the consciousness behind all of that. So by taking a central seat in that consciousness and looking outward at what I so often relate to as “me” I can then look at myself with the same care, compassion, understanding, love, and even forgiveness that I would so quickly offer to a friend, a romantic partner, a parent or loved one. Recently, I am catching myself doing things like eating poorly because I am lazy, or watching tv instead of being creative, reading, or even learning a new skill (which I love to do), or anything like this. And I think to myself, how would I motivate someone I love? How would I care for somebody I love? How would I encourage someone I love? Well, I want to practice THAT. Because, fuck, it feels so good to be loved. So wouldn’t I want to love myself? Think of how some Parents love their children through thick and thin, no matter what. It doesn’t make any difference what “horrible thing” that child does, some Moms and Pops still show up and love them, no question. That’s also the type of love I could be giving to myself. What!? That’s crazy. So learning to make it a practice. That’s now a part of the routine, and it is a slow process. That’s totally okay. When I have mastered the art of giving that level of love to myself, I’ll be able to share that level of love with anyone I’d like. How great is that?

So from that place of love, there is forgiveness. End of story. I also realize it’s not as difficult as it seems. I believe it’s just practice, and commitment; Commitment to keeping myself healthy; Commitment to being honest with myself; Commitment to taking care of myself; Commitment to loving myself. From within love, there is forgiveness. By loving myself, I forgive myself. In my practice already, I have found much release in the burden I carry, even things going back to my childhood. I find myself bubblier, happier, and feeling more alive, more creative, more excited about life than I have in a long time. I am grateful for the process I am going through and all the wonderful lessons I am picking up along the way. Obviously everything I write is opinion, based on my thoughts and pondering, though sometimes I feel like I am just looking at code, and understanding it. I am sure as I continue to develop my ideas it may all shift as well, who knows! I am always open to understanding the most relevant idea to the moment.

Thanks for reading,

-a wanderer

may you find strength in your ideas, to grow along with them.

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Comments

What an amazing article! I admire the writing and it’s helpful for me. Still find a way to forgive myself. Anyway, welcome to the family dear. Happy to see you.

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