The art of self-forgiveness
Let it go!
Self-forgiveness is often one of the most overlooked aspects of self-care. Universal teaching is to forgive others, but what about oneself? Why is forgiving oneself more difficult than forgiving others?
What is self-forgiveness?
Self-forgiveness is the act of forgiving oneself for past mistakes. It is acknowledging and accepting an event or behaviour is in the past and letting it go. Any remorse over it would not change what happened. Self-forgiveness helps to overcome the repentance, shame and guilt that many experiences over past mistakes.
Most people have made some mistakes in the past. Many keep beating themselves up with thoughts of how they have ruined their our lives or that of others. While most know the adage that “to err is human”, most forget that “to forgive, divine.” Past mistakes should guide people not to define them.
Lack of self-compassion and self-forgiveness in a person continues a vicious circle of guilt, shame and remorse, which can block development and growth as an individual.
Steps to Self-Forgiveness
- Acknowledge, and process emotions: Some emotions are painful, and many people do not know how to deal with them, making the healing process difficult. Acknowledging, and owning feelings is the first step towards making amends with oneself. Often journaling helps in acknowledgement. When one writes down one’s thoughts, it is easier to acknowledge the emotions.
- Learn the difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations: No one is superhuman. We all make mistakes; the key is to learn from them and then move on to be a better version of oneself.
- Analyze: There is a choice to be made; to be one’s best friends or worst critics. To analyze the voices in once psyche, it helps to ask whose voice is this? Does this voice belong to an authority figure from the past? What would one’s best friend say in this situation? Would one be so harsh with one’s own child? Why beat up the inner child?
- Build mental resilience: Some people may be born resilient; however, there are tools to train brains to build and sustain mental resilience.
- Be Self-compassionate: With the power of self-compassion, one can be kind to once’s inner child It is important to give the same kindness, love and care that one would give to a person in need.
- Realize that one cannot change the past so gracefully accept it: If any of one’s action has hurt someone asks for forgiveness, this includes self-forgiveness.
- Have a learner rather than a judger mindset: Remember that people make mistakes, but people are not their mistakes.
- Work on coping mechanism: This could be yoga and mindful meditation what ever keeps you in flow.
- Professional help: If everything else fails, seek professional advice to deal with guilt and shame and other difficult emotions you may be experiencing.
Self-forgiveness surely does not mean that a person should shirk away from taking responsibilities of their actions and consequences. It implies that one accepts responsibilities, learns from it and not afraid to start afresh.