Forgiveness, for me, was a challenging process to work through because I didn't want to forgive my violators. I felt it was letting them off the hook.
What I didn't understand at the time was that I was continuing to let them violate me in my mind's memory of replaying the events every time I started to get close to someone new.
Although in my "logical" mind I could "rationalize" that the new person I was getting to know and be in a relationship with was NOT the violators from my past, my inner critic Trudy was still afraid, shamed, hurt, and anxious of being victimized again.
I could talk to her until I was blue in the face with all kinds of sound, rational, fact-based reasoning, and it would change nothing.
We (Trudy and I) would remain at a standstill and as a result of our standstill of not understanding, our relationship with our new person would fail.
The same scenario played out when it came to any un-forgiveness I had towards myself.
I wanted to ration with Trudy BIG TIME.
I wanted to convince her we were FINE.
I wanted to barter with her so we could MOVE FORWARD.
Self forgiveness is essential to moving forward and living vibrantly.
Self-forgiveness is the practice of forgiving yourself of past wrongdoings. It involves changing your perception of yourself and what happened through the eyes of self-compassion and self-understanding. By understanding the deeper mechanics of why you did what you did, and holding yourself in the embrace of self-love, you can let go, move on, and feel free again.
While we can sometimes feel haunted by a thought or intention we’ve secretly carried (once or many times), generally we feel most deeply impacted by what we’ve done. (Even if you didn't do something (were violated, bullied, hurt, etc.), your inner critic has took ownership of the wrongdoing.)
Here are some examples of actions that cause us guilt and shame:
Getting an abortion
Cheating on your partner
Physically hurting a loved one
Gossiping and/or spreading rumors
Destroying other’s property
Having a certain level of guilt/shame (remorse) after hurting ourselves or others is vital for without it, we would sociopathically ignore the impact of our behavior, and that would lead us collectively down a very fatal path.
Unhealed guilt and shame becomes highly toxic, and festers within us; when we can't let go of what we've done or what has happened to us. Picture a stagnant pool of water – that’s what a lack of self-forgiveness feels like. There is no growth, no movement, no freshness, no life inside, only the same old rancid sludge of self-hating thoughts.
In fact, when we carry toxic guilt and shame, we tend to create a negative and unrealistic image of ourselves in our mind. Such dark self-images sadly tend to create self-fulfilling prophecies or negative feedback loops.
In other words, (as an example) if we carry the negative core belief that we’re only good enough for our bodies (someone else's pleasure), we may perpetuate that same behavior in our next relationship.
Harboring or holding onto a secret of guilt or shame truly prevents one from moving on in a healthy, whole manner.
Here’s how self-forgiveness helps us:
We stop dwelling in (and endlessly reliving) the past
We begin living in the present moment
We have more hope for the future
We develop more self-love and understanding
We learn from our mistakes and transform as people
We have more energy and motivation for life
We learn to not hold ourselves hostage
We learn to live more vibrant rather than small
What I've learned and share with my clients is:
Understand that you cannot change the past
Our Inner Critic relives those past moments in an effort to right what we considered a wrong, and we can help her/him do that.
Reflection - Where you are now vs then
Throughout life, we all have varying degrees of mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity. When you were 5 years old, for instance, you had a lower level of maturity than at 15, 25, or 55.
The you then is not the you now. Your life has changed. You have aged. You have had more experiences. You have learned more, felt more, seen more, and understood more. Even your body has changed. There is not one part of you that hasn’t changed (except, your inner critic).
Trying something new
It’s important that we make space to process our feelings, especially those that seem to show up out of nowhere.. Mind you, ruminating and dredging up old memories repeatedly is not processing your feelings: it’s simmering in them. It’s time to do away with that form of self-punishment. Facing, feeling, and expressing what’s going on inside of you will be a vital part of your healing journey.
If what you've been trying and have tried to work through hasn't worked, it just means to try something new....not give up.
Lastly, being mindful of being human, not perfection.
We tend to beat ourselves up, where perhaps we should be giving more grace and forgiveness. Remember, we're doing the best we can, and when we know better, we do better.
There's something beautiful that happens when we can give ourselves the same ease, grace, and love we give to others. It changes the current relationship you have with your inner critic, who wants to be loved, forgiven, and valued.
You may very well be feeling triggered over something you may have previously worked through or forgotten about, don't be hard on yourself. It's a beautiful opportunity for you to forgive.
As always, I extend an offer out to you to get in touch with me to help you work through it.
Until next time, I send you so much love.