So far we’ve talked a lot about forgiving others in this 21-Day Forgiveness Challenge. There’s one very important person we’ve not talked about yet – and that’s you. It’s about time we take a closer look at forgiving yourself, what it means, why it’s so difficult, and why it is important.
Forgiving yourself is often harder than forgiving anyone else. We’re hard on ourselves. We are our own worst critics and as a result it’s often tough to forgive ourselves. It’s hard to admit and let go of our mistakes. Yet self-forgiveness is one of the most powerful parts of self-love.
When you learn to forgive yourself your past mistakes, you aren’t just able to start moving on. You will also start to develop a deeper feeling of self-worth. With that comes a newfound self- confidence that will serve you well in the days to come. Life is much easier and a lot more fun when you are able to develop a good feeling of self-worth and self-confidence.
Of course all of that is easier said than done. Forgiving yourself, as I mentioned earlier, is harder than it looks. It’s not something that comes easy to most of us. If you’re lacking in self-worth, and self-confidence, it will be even harder. The good news is that you can get there by following a simple step-by-step process.
Start by admitting your mistakes. You won’t be able to forgive yourself if you don’t know what you’re forgiving yourself for. Make a list, or simply start with some of your biggest mistakes. Admit them to yourself so you can start to move on.
Next, think about what you would have done differently, given the chance. Knowing what you know now. Maybe you didn’t make the best decisions, but you had to grow as a person to realize that. Forgive your past self for the decisions you made, and be thankful for those mistakes. They are part of what molded you into the person you are today. We learn from our mistakes and all experiences (good and bad), mold and shape us. Last but not least, vow to do better in the future. You have grown and become a different (and hopefully better) person as a result of the mistakes you’ve made. Forgive yourself for the things you regret and work on doing better going forward. Do this and you’ll notice how your feeling of self-worth increases with each good decision you make. Before you know it, you’ll be the confident, happy person you’re striving to be – thanks to self-forgiveness.
ACTION FOR TODAY:
Start reaching out to the people you flagged on Day 7 and let them know you want to talk and settle things between the two of you. Really focus on the people you want to fix relationships with first. Set coffee or lunch dates for the near future — tomorrow, if possible. Go through your list of people over the next few days. If there are people you can’t meet in person, consider setting up a time to talk over the phone rather than clearing the air through text messages.
For those of you that you may not be able to speak with the person or it is too dangerous to meet with them, try a simple version of the Empty Chair exercise.
This talk therapy exercise lets you express your thoughts and feelings as if you were talking to a specific person—in this case, it will be the person who offended or hurt you. Even though they are not present, you direct your words and gestures at an empty chair and imagine them sitting in it while you talk.
First, create a peaceful space for your “meeting”. Place an empty chair facing you. You can set the mood by lighting a candle and making sure there are no distractions or loud noises. If you have an object that belonged to the person or a photo of that person, collect that item and connect with the person. If you do not have anything, close your eyes and sit in silence thinking of the person for 5 minutes.
Second, “invite” the person to join you. Imagine them in the empty chair. Imagine what they are wearing, what they smell like, and the expression on their face.
Third, tell this person about your unresolved feelings. (You can have your feelings written down beforehand or just speak off the cuff.) This includes any feelings such as pain, anger, resentment, guilt, hurt, rage, unexpressed love, disappointment, or fear. Tell them what they did or did not do that hurt you or offended you. Tell them how you felt about it. Try to avoid blaming statements,
speaking instead in the first person about your own feelings and experience.
For example, “I remember when…”, “I was humiliated when…” “My heart was broken when…”
Fourth, tell the person how their behavior has emotionally, behaviorally, and possibly physically affected you. Tell them what your expectations were for how you wanted them to behave and how you wanted them to relate to you. Express everything you wish to say and ask at this time.
Then, stand up and sit in the chair across from you, embodying this person and responding to yourself as though you were them. Receive what you have just been told. Let it in. Reflect on the facts and the feelings that you heard yourself express.
Write about your experience in your journal.