This week’s focus will be self-forgiveness. I have found that forgiving yourself is much challenging than forgiving others. So, why is forgiving yourself so challenging? Now, the list of human misdeeds are so long. There are as many judgement and shame based misdeeds as there are people in this world. Furthermore, we define misdeeds according to our perceptions: a culmination of our attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts about an act. These perceptions are instilled in us since childhood by adults in our lives, by our cultures, religious preaching, and societal norms.
Forgiving others misdeeds are easier, because they don’t live in our heads. And, forgiving ourselves is challenging because the one criticizing lives in our heads, and we are expose to its narration in our every move. The truth is no one beats us up harder than we beat ourselves up.
So, how do you know you need to forgive yourself? When you are feeling lingering anger and resentment, that’s a clear sign you need forgiveness. Please don’t confuse this with being angry at someone for wronging you, we will discuss that next week in setting boundaries. The lingering anger & resentment that need your attention this week is cloaked as Self-hate because of tremendous guilt or shame associated with it:
- You judge and criticize others, projection
- You compare yourself with others, beat yourself up more
- You have many regrets or feel stuck in a cycle of “I wish … es”
- You picked a wrong partner/spouse
- You yelled at your child
So, if you judged yourself/others for being ______, and felt shamed for doing/being _______, and guilty for doing/being _______, then you have that lingering anger and resentment in you that most likely is showing up as projection onto shaming others, making others guilty, judging others, or simply comparing yourself on constant basis with others. It can also show up as assuming someone is judging you, shaming you, or making you feel guilty.
I want you to do this the next time you find yourself trapped in any of the above situations:
- Stop –> Pause –>
- What did you just feel? Name it or name them!
- What are the thoughts going through your head right now? Confront them!
- Where does this thinking come from? Most likely it is conditioning/childhood.
- Reset –> “I am greater than this thought/feeling”. Release it from your mind and body: “I understand what you are saying Bertha, I do not need your advice anymore, It is time for you to stop interfering in/with these matters.” Feel what part of your body feels lighter … replace your thought/feeling with the opposite of what it was or what you want it to be! The ball is in your court!
Now, lets focus on how do you forgive yourself? It’s phenomenal but true that people often confuse forgiving themselves for ‘Who they are’ instead of ‘What they did’ … You owe no apologies for being gay, lesbian, handicap, having mental illness of some sort … etc. You do, however, need to apologize for hurting someone who was gay, lesbian, or handicapped. Do you see the difference? the first scenario describes ‘shame’, the second scenario describes ‘guilt’. When you feel guilty, don’t let it linger because it will turn into shame. Shame is the least constructive state of being. When you feel shame definitely don’t let it linger, it will rob you of happiness and prosperity.
So, here is are some action steps to free yourself from self-criticism and begin the journey of self-forgiveness:
- Be Mindful (Week 1)
- Practice Self-Care (week 2)
- Give your critical narrator a name & tell her off once in a while: I have named mine Bertha 🙂
- Feel the Shame, judgments, and guilt. Stop –> Pause –> Reset: These feelings are not making you a bad person, they only need your acknowledgement. You are a good person because you feel them, you don’t have to constantly live with them, and hate yourself because of them, and project them onto others! It is OK to feel those feelings, don’t feed them, hit the RESET, so you can move forward.
- Make Amends with yourself: Define your values and morals often!
- Keep your promises to yourself! This is BIG DEAL!
- Do small acts of kindness to transform self-punishment into self-forgiveness.
- Learn to compliment those who you envy: this will replace self-pity to self-empowerment.
- Practice Emotional, Physical, intellectual, spiritual self-care! This is crucial!
- Do the steps every day for a week!
Here is the Mantra for this week:
I am Capable of moving beyond my mistakes.
I forgive myself one day at a time until it’s complete. *
I release the past so I can step into future with pure intentions
*NOTE: Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you are not going to be angry at yourself anymore, but it will free you from hating yourself, so the anger and resentment will be less intense.
Here are some optional ideas:
- Write yourself a letter. Make amends with yourself or the other person.
- Experience the grace of being forgiven by sharing it with a community that you feel comfortable with. Anonymous Groups are a wonderful Start.
- Write a Story about it! This is something I do with my clients when they are totally pre-occupied with the shame of what they have done. If you are interested, you can personal message me and I will send you the outline: Mahmooda@wholewise2wholefit.com