Many of us have done things in our past that have caused others pain. We often feel guilty about those things, which can lead to us making a change and working to better ourselves and healing those relationships that were harmed. Sometimes, though, we go down the black hole of shame and regret. When this happens we beat up ourselves telling ourselves we are no good and deserve what happens to us because “we made our bed and now have to lay in it.” But, is this true? No, because it’s a judgment rather than self-compassion. When we judge ourselves we are sinking into regret, which leads to self-hate.
So, how can we avoid self-hate and judgment and come to a place of self-love and compassion? It’s starts with forgiving oneself. We all know forgiveness of others can be healing as well as freeing, but we often forget self-forgiveness. What does self-forgiveness look like? I found an article that resonated with me talking about the four avenues of self-forgiveness, which include:
- “Self-understanding”–What caused you to act the way you did and why? Have you learned from the actions and/or situation? What in your past could have contributed to your actions? Understanding yourself leads to compassion, which leads to forgiveness in an organic way.
- “Common humanity”–This is really about understanding that NO human is perfect, and we all make mistakes. When we can really look at ourselves as humans who sometimes mess up, we can forgive ourselves easier.
- “Earning forgiveness (taking responsibility, apologizing, and making amends)”–All of this leads to forgiveness of the self because you’re gaining forgiveness of others and are acknowledging your humanness and learning from the mistakes. You’re showing strength and putting the ego aside.
- “Asking for forgiveness from a higher power”–This can mean something different to every person. Sometimes the guilt, the shame, and the sadness we feel can be overwhelming so looking to something or someone bigger than ourselves can help alleviate that pain and lead to self-forgiveness.
We all make mistakes. I’m not perfect by any means, and I am currently working on my own self-forgiveness. It takes work and practice. Some days I think, “Yeah, I got this. I figured life out and I’m a rockstar.” While other days sadness can seep in and I think, “You’re awful and deserve what comes to you.” But, this isn’t loving and I have to remind myself that if I wouldn’t say these things to my dog, then I probably shouldn’t say them to myself and I need to be kinder to myself. We all have things within our past that can contribute to our actions in the present. I’m not making excuses, but those past experiences can have an impact and it’s important to be mindful and learn how those experiences can impact us and how to learn and grow from them so that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over. It’s essential to work on healing ourselves because when healed, forgiveness and compassion come easier. Remember, if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t do anything except make you feel terrible. Instead, reflect on what happened, ask for forgiveness from others and then work on self-compassion and healing in order to eventually forgive yourself. “This too shall pass” – Unknown.