Why is forgiving yourself so much harder than forgiving others? We’ve all had to forgive someone at some point in our lives….yet it can be almost impossible to forgive ourselves, even for the small things.
The following quote is something I pinned on Pinterest months ago. I get several alerts each day since then that someone has re-pinned it. That shows me there are a lot of people out there who have trouble forgiving themselves.
I tend to be a very forgiving person. I don’t hold grudges. I’m not spiteful or vengeful. I think I try to see the best in others even when they’ve made mistakes or hurt me in some way.
Don’t get me wrong…there are things that I’ve found hard to forgive, but those situations are very rare and have involved someone doing something intentionally to hurt me or use me. Thankfully, I have only encountered a few people like that in my life. Once I realized what was going on, I just cut them out of my life. They’re dismissed with no explanations. We’re done.
We’ve all heard the expression…forgive and forget. I forgive, but I don’t forget. Bringing up the offense to the other person at a future time? That’s not what I mean. Sure I’ve slipped up and done it a few times, but I try to leave it where it belongs…in the past. When I say I don’t forget, I’m saying I remember what the lesson taught me so that I don’t put myself in that position again with that person or someone else. Survival instinct I suppose. I’ll forgive you, but my guard will be up and depending on what happened, I probably won’t be as trusting as I was in the first time.
Getting back to the topic of forgiving yourself….why is it so hard? I think a big reason it’s so hard is because we have to come to terms with some things about ourselves and they usually aren’t things we want to see. For some people it’s easier to punish themselves for the things they’ve done wrong versus conquering those demons and doing what needs to be done to change.
Many of us are much more critical of ourselves than we are of other people. We give others the benefit of the doubt, but won’t give ourselves any slack at all.
When dealing with someone you don’t trust or like, you can choose to forgive and not have contact with them anymore. But with yourself? It’s not an option. You can’t quit or walk away from yourself.
In order to forgive ourselves, we first have to admit we messed up. We have to acknowledge it and own it! It helps to remember that mistakes, failures, and really stupid acts are part of being human.
We all experience shame and guilt when we screw up, but we shouldn’t get stuck in that place. Life is tough, but we can’t let the past hold us hostage while we try to live. Give yourself time and patience and above all be honest with yourself while you work thru things.
Keep a journal, talk to someone, pray…whatever you need to do to get help. As a Christian, I have to remind myself that God has forgiven me. All I need to do is turn it over to Him. It seems like such an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not that easy to do, and when it’s hard to let go & let God…. I pray even harder.
Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can. No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. You will hurt people. You will have regrets. We are all worthy of the kindness and compassion we show to others and we have to learn to extend that to ourselves.
If you think you’re a wretch and treat yourself like one, you’ll act like one. Forgiving yourself can be a hard process, but tell yourself you’re a good person who made a mistake and start acting like it….which is, in fact, what you are!