You can’t believe you did it. You knew it wasn’t right but you did it anyway and people got hurt. You’ve tried but you can’t stop beating yourself up. Just when you think you can let it go the memory rears its ugly head and reminds you of your transgression. An error in judgment you made years ago. A mistake from which you are still carrying the heavy burden of guilt.
I hear you. Been there, done that. What stops us from forgiving ourselves for the less-than-savory things we’ve done in the past? Do we feel we are not worthy or perhaps that deserve to suffer? I’m here to tell you friend, this is not the case.
I believe there are other equally important questions we need to ponder. For instance, what good has come from our unwillingness to forgive ourselves? Has this lack of forgiveness toward ourselves made us better people? Has it given our life purpose? Has it been of great benefit in any way?
Most likely the answer to all these questions is the same. No. So what is the alternative? For a lot of us forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing we will ever do. We’re convinced we are the worst of the worst so forgiving would be akin to letting ourselves off the hook. Irresponsible. Selfish.
But we would be wrong. On the contrary, forgiving ourselves would be an act of mercy. A gift of compassion. We’re not going to forget what we did and we’ll do everything we can to never let it happen again.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard for self-forgiveness is this…forget the mistake but remember the lesson. Forgiving isn’t the same as condoning. It doesn’t mean we lack regret or we aren’t sorry. It means we recognize that we have done wrong, we are sorry and have learned what we needed to from it and are moving on. Staying immersed in guilt and continually beating ourselves up robs us of peace.
We aren’t perfect. We are human, flawed and fallible, and we make mistakes. We do stupid crap without thinking. Sometimes we do stupid crap while we ARE thinking but we do it anyway. But if we have done what we can to make amends and taken to heart the lessons learned, why continue to beat ourselves up?
We are not defined by our mistakes. We all have a light inside that connects us to each other and to something greater than we are. Forgiveness, not only of others but of ourselves, makes our light shine brighter and the brighter we shine the lighter the world becomes. Never have we needed this more than now.