How to Forgive Yourself

Who do you need to forgive in order to land in 2021 with more peace and freedom? If you just answered yourself, you are not alone.


What does it mean to forgive ourselves? Where do we feel the pull of guilt, shame, and remorse? And what happens when you have the underlying sense of unresolved forgiveness of lack of reconciliation?


What does forgiveness actually mean? 


To cease to feel resentment against an offender, it’s the detachment of carrying the resentment with you of a mistake or harmful situation. Forgiveness is something we crave when we feel guilt, shame, or remorse.


We feel these things in parenting, partnering, in managing our money, in how we interact with our parents, our friends, our clients, our coworkers…You’re carrying guilt about whether you call your parents enough, whether you are available for your kids enough or in the right way, for not being the initiator for sex with your partner, not responding to texts or messages from friends and your sister fast enough.


There’s guilt with a capital G reserved for the big stuff - Putting boundaries and sometimes distance with friends and family, divorce when you have kids or family who is going to be impacted, leaving a job that relies on you or an organization that has expected you to show up. Or when we make a big mistake in saying something unkind in a moment of heated emotion or don’t follow through with a commitment we made to someone we care about.


Some of this remorse is warranted - feeling regretful and wanting to make it right or help the other person to feel seen, heard, and understood is a healthy response to big mistakes. That is a key factor in connection - we have to own our choices regardless of the intention and acknowledge the impact we have on others when we mess up. It deepens the bond, significantly increases the trust factor and the relationship is stronger as a result of forgiveness and the process to get there.


What is guilt?

Guilt is based on the perception of DOING something wrong, incorrectly, or bad, right? So when we feel guilty, it’s a sign that we are judging our choices. And it really comes down to alignment - when you are acting in alignment with your values, your beliefs, and your vision for your truest life. The first time you choose to do something outside of those parameters, guilt begins to seep in.


So your guilt, remorse, shame about these things are misplaced, unnecessary but most importantly literally keeping you from embodying your truest, most authentic self. Layering on decades of “failed” attempts to grow and expand your experience in your health, your partnership, your parenting, with your money and your career - it’s tricked you into being gunshy about doing something new - anything that could potentially reinforce this heightened sense of guilt and shame. That’s why so many of us stop trying new things as we get older - the younger version of ourselves hasn’t had decades of shitty messaging from the world ingrained in our experiences so we were more willing to say yes and trust that we could make it happen.


 It’s not scientifically possible to perfectly execute the plan each and every time you are learning something new or incorporating a new aspect of your next level self. You’ve been setting yourself up for failure, self-doubt, self-sabotage, every time you subscribed to this model of doing life.


In order to forgive yourself, you have to acknowledge when you actually made mistakes or errors in judgment vs when you were given the wrong handbook or guidelines to doing something new or expanding on what you already do.


Make a list of all the things you want to forgive yourself for without judgment - the things you feel guilty about, the things you are embarrassed to admit you did or didn’t do, the stuff that fills you with heated shame - you aren’t showing this to anyone and you aren’t keeping it. But do yourself the favor of writing those things down - all of them. Set a timer for 10 minutes and sit quietly with yourself to dump all of that out of your mind. Nothing is too big or too small if you feel guilty or shameful about it.


Get it out. Then you will go through that list and cross off the things that aren’t actually mistakes or errors in decision making.


I’m asking you to do this because when you have the underlying sense of unresolved forgiveness or lack of reconciliation, you are playing a smaller version of yourself. These ambiguous parts and pieces of years past and recent efforts that ended up in the land of guilt and shame in your mind and are taking up space and need to be cleared.



What does it mean to forgive ourselves?


It means we accept and fully embrace the idea that we are doing the best we know how to do with what we know at the time. It also requires us to take a true inventory of our lives considering all the variables that impact how we feel emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally in any given moment.


If you are operating from a place of stress but aren’t acknowledging the significant stress factors at play, you are beating yourself up for not being a superwoman.


You’ve got to understand and believe that your truest self is always wanting to be the best version of herself. Your internal spirit is 100% committed to love and connection and compassion - it’s the years of feedback and relationship patterns that have settled into habits that have convinced you you are somehow bad or not doing it right.


You cannot do YOUR life wrong. It’s impossible because it’s never been done before. So you are doing it for the first time - you’re parenting your specific kids for the first time each and every day for their entire life. You’re being a daughter and a partner and friend on this day in this year with this wisdom and experience for the first time - you’ve never had this amount of experience before right now.


So the question to ask yourself instead of “Am I doing it right?” or “Is this a good choice?” is “is this aligned with the life I want to live? - is it effective?”


We forgive ourselves by answering this last question starting today. And as you practice using that question to reduce the emotion and increase the awareness of whether or not it will get to your best life - the times you didn’t ask that question will start to fall away from your highlight reel. You’ll see that the choices you’ve made in the past were just that - decisions - not moral declarations of goodness or evil.


I love you. I’m here for you. You are not a burden and are so very very lovable.


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