Self-forgiveness is about learning how to forgive yourself for mistakes you made or choices you made, at great costs. Often we wonder, how it is possible we messed up so much, how did we come to this?
Things may not always add up. Our actions do not always reflect us. The actions of other people do not always reflect them either, or sometimes they do. We find it easier though to forgive others, than to forgive ourselves. The scrutiny we place upon ourselves can be unrelenting.
“To heal, you have to get to the root of the wound and kiss it all the way up” — Rupi Kaur
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Why Is Self-Forgiveness Important?
According to Kendra Cherry, MS, Author and Educational Consultant, with statements reviewed by Steven Gans, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, forgiveness can reduce stress, which in turn increases immunity, eases mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and increases physical health due to a reduction in anger and an increase in heart health.
So, as well as aiding in such widespread issues as anxiety and depression, when we practice self-forgiveness, our overall health increases.
If we do not find the key to forgiveness, for ourselves and others, we continue to worry and punish ourselves into a mess.
There are seasons of our life where we can certainly use painful lessons for good, and to learn from. But when it comes to how we treat ourselves, until then, we hurt.
We simply hurt ourselves. It doesn’t have to be in any big way. It can be in the way that we don’t let go of a mistake. It may not have even been an unconscious mistake. We may have known why we did what we did, and made a decision to do it anyway, and that makes it harder.
Self-forgiveness can have many benefits, while self-loathing is not productive at all. The first question to ask yourself is, “Why did I do wrong?”
Making a mistake, making a blunder, has nothing to do with who you are or who you have the potential to become. It is not a reflection of your self-worth.
We are all human; we all make mistakes. We all do things for different reasons; the key is finding your reason. When you discover your why, you will unlock your truth. You will know how you got to this point and make the important decision to decide for yourself whether or not to go down that path again.
Meaning In the Mess
Sometimes, we break down and reveal more vulnerability to the people we love when we acknowledge our own mess. This can lead to greater revelations about ourselves and our life. When we acknowledge that we are not perfect, others can relate to us and find greater strength too.
In simply saying, “I’m sorry,” doors of accountability open and refuge can be found in relating our struggle to our strength. “I’m sorry, but I can try to make this up to you,” is also great for a new start. It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect. But it does mean you can start to salvage the situation.
Finding meaning out of the mess means that you’re done pretending, to yourself and others, that everything is perfect. It means that you will stand up for yourself, for others, and what you believe in. It means that you will start to heal.
The end goal? To finally be able to let go.
Letting go means to forgive yourself for what you didn’t know and what you thought you had to do (or not do). It means to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and your mistakes. But that doesn’t mean excusing yourself from accountability.
Identifying a mistake, deciding not to repeat it, and owning the damage you caused is part of the journey. Don’t keep beating yourself up over it. It’s a hard balance to find at times, but it’s worth it to be able to reap the health benefits, and move on with your life.
YOU are worth it.
Sometimes, self-forgiveness is about finding joy in life instead of sorrow. Once you let go, you learn to live. Remorse does account for some sorrow, but it does not mean you live in sorrow and regret for the rest of your life.
Maybe you didn’t have to forgive yourself for doing something wrong. Maybe you had to forgive yourself for doing something right.
Maybe it was because you knew it would come with a cost. But you were willing to pay it to do that right thing (or maybe simply not do that wrong thing).