The GEM Debate:
Do Yourself A Favor—Forgive Yourself! (POLL)
Forgiveness is such a double-edged sword. We should forgive our enemies, but they’re the last people we want to forgive. We think forgiving is for the weak, but to forgive takes inner strength. Forgiving has no power to change the past, but it has infinite power to change the future. Sometimes we’re okay with forgiving others, but can’t seem to forgive ourselves.
Forgiveness is a double-edged sword for me. It’s such a touchy-feely concept, yet I think of myself as a touchy-feely person. The inability to forgive is a deeply emotional thing. But, what I’ve learned is that when I’m unable to forgive, I’m hanging on to the wrong emotion.
Think about what it takes to be unforgiving: anger; regret; intolerance; a refusal to let go of the past; the imprisonment of the mind; and perhaps, most importantly, it reduces the ability to love oneself. When you think about the space that all that negativity takes in your heart, how is there room to truly love yourself? And, I mean, to love you in a way that takes courage—a way that says, “I’m flawed, but no less worthy—in fact, even more worthy—of the love I give to others.”
In my humble opinion, each one of us could change the world or, at the very least, how we treat one another (which really does change the world) by speaking to the wounded person inside and saying, “I forgive you.”
I was talking to a friend once and she told me about a relationship with and subsequent breakup from her boyfriend years ago. I mean, this happened in the 1990s. From the story she told, it was pretty awful. There were physical and verbal fights, destruction of personal property, and stalking from both parties. My friend and her ex have both moved on to more productive relationships, but I could still see the sadness and anger bubbling up all these years later.
At the time, I didn’t really know what to say to her. I don’t think she wanted advice as much as she wanted to vent. But, that’s the problem. Why should she want or need to vent over something that happened nearly 20 years ago? I’ve given it lots of thought and if she’s reading this now, I want her to consider this quote I found:
“You have always made the right decision at the time, based on the person you were and the information you had at the time. So, if you are certain that the person you have now become would not make the same decision, then stop beating yourself up because you are condemning an innocent person.”
Related: THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Isn’t that the most gorgeous thing you’ve read all week? If that doesn’t make you forgive yourself, I don’t know what will. We’ve all done and said things that, with 20/20 hindsight, could have been done or said differently. For better or for worse, every mistake has taught us something. They have made us who we are, but they don’t have to define us. It’s up to us to forgive ourselves and make those regrets springboards for happiness rather than the coffins we build for our souls.
Today, I will forgive myself. Please join me. We can all take responsibility for our own lives by making amends to ourselves. That will certainly make it easier to forgive our so-called enemies. In the end, our enemies are really our friends. Without them, we wouldn’t know what to do to forgive ourselves.
Don’t know how to forgive yourself? Stay tuned. Tomorrow’s 10 From GEM will cover this very topic.
Related: ASK RENE: FAMILY FORGIVENESS
What about you? Do you forgive yourself? Do you think you need to? Take the poll and share your thoughts below.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.