Face it, forgiveness is hard. I once went out and randomly interviewed 15 strangers on the street and asked them “Is it easier to forgive yourself or someone else?” Fourteen people immediately responded with some variation of it’s easier to forgive others and only one person, after pausing a few seconds said, he found it easier to forgive himself. While it was by no means an exhaustive research study, my work has allowed me to hear hundreds of people report it is harder to forgive themselves than it is to forgive others.
Yet, it is forgiving ourselves that can truly set us free. Think about it, the relationship we have with ourselves is our primary relationship because wherever we go no matter who we are with, we are our own constant companions. Doesn’t it make sense, to cut that person some slack and forgive them?
Here are 5 common things for forgiving yourself for:
- The opportunities in life you did not take. If there is one area of life that gets the most revisionist history, it is looking back at ourselves and seeing and believing that we should have known better. If you knew then what you know now, of course you would have taken advantage of every opportunity. Life is the biggest classroom of all, don’t chastise yourself for not knowing what you weren’t ready to know yet. Monday morning quarterbacking is a loser’s game.
- How you treated your parents when you were a young “know it all” whether that was when you were a teenager, in your 20s or just yesterday. Chances are, your parents love you and accept the good with the bad…if they don’t demonstrate that to be true, this one point is especially for you. The relationship we have with your parents is one of the most intimate ones you will ever have in your life. So there is a level of security as well as lots of opportunity for mistakes. When we are young and finding our way in the world and deciding who we want to be, rebelling against our parents and seeing them as “stupid” can be part of the process. You are a grown up when you can recognize that you are sorry for the pain you have caused and it’s never to late to say “I’m sorry.” If you are someone who has a lot to be sorry for think about ways to make amends such as a letter or better yet, a face to face meeting where you take full responsibility and don’t try to place any of the blame on them. Ask for their forgiveness. If you do these things in a heartfelt way and they don’t forgive you, you then know everything you need to know about them, but also you know that you have done your best. No one can change the past and eventually everyone has to make their own choices. Please make the choice to forgive yourself.
- Forgive yourself for all the ways you perceive yourself as not enough. It doesn’t matter how smart, talented, hardworking or committed you are, we all have things that simply aren’t in our genetic make up! Honor yourself for all the talents, abilities and accomplishments you do have. As you shift your focus to all the things that are great about you, you will begin to see more great things, so do it now!
- The ways in which you negatively compensated to cope with your life. Whether it was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol because the pain was overwhelming or being angry and nasty and lashing out at others because you were feeling so bad about yourself and all the other poor choices you made out of fear. Just the fact that you recognize now demonstrates how far you have come. Make amends with yourself.
- Having someone in your life you just weren’t able to love the way they deserved to be loved. Whether it was a romantic partner, a child or a family member growing up. We can’t give what we don’t have so recognize at least part of the problem was you didn’t love yourself enough…remember, self love should never be confused with arrogance or self absorption. Sometimes we truly don’t understand how important someone is to us until we have some distance or lose them. While this is never easy, it’s important to forgive yourself so that you can do better with them now or the next time. Honor that person and yourself by learning from the past so that you can do better now and into the future.
I believe that a lot of “bad” behavior actually happens because we don’t love ourselves. When we love and accept who we are, we are happier and more confident and when we are happier and more confident, we want others to be happy and hurting them becomes much less likely.
Most people don’t need a therapist, they just need a change.™
Coach Monique is a certified Emotional Intelligence Life Coach. She helps her clients get the CHANGES they want with emotionally intelligent and innovative tools, techniques and strategies to get RAPID RESULTS REAL FAST! Call 412-400-2085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your CHANGE TODAY.