Self Forgiveness: You need only ask
Self forgiveness often feels out of reach. We are entirely too hard on ourselves. Or we take ourselves way too seriously! Still, one of the biggest challenges in my life is Self Blame. I know I am not alone.
We feel like we deserve blame and shame, yet we feel like we don’t deserve it in the same breath. Many of us go through life playing this blame game: “Is it me? Is it them?” In a way, that is how the story of blame stays so strong, by discombobulating us. In a confused vacillating state of defense and admonishment, we are more vulnerable and subservient to the wiles of shame and guilt.
Self Blame, along with his best bud Self Doubt, and his life-sucking neighbor, Self Hatred, are enough to drive anyone half crazy! And they have risen to epidemic proportions in our culture. (And we have exported them to other cultures.)
They have got to be stopped!
Blame, doubt, and guilt prevent people from feeling all the love and living the freedom that they deserve, instead making people feel unworthy, unloved, despairing, and afraid. The worst, worst, worst feelings in the world.
Too many people think that they are inherently flawed, (mostly because someone hurt them, yet they blame themselves for it.) On some level they feel like they deserved to have been treated that way. It is the only way they can explain why someone else would do something so horrible. (Plus the abuser probably told them it was their fault.) For most of us, the abuse wasn’t so blatant, but the negative voices come from somewhere.
We conclude that there must be something wrong with us.
But there isn’t anything wrong with us.
Not. One. Thing.
We are beautiful and beloved. And deserving.
Absolutely without question, deserving of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not condoning something horrible, it is about freeing yourself from the blame game. Freeing yourself from resentment.
People get very afraid of self forgiveness. They feel like if they forgive themselves, then they are “egotistical, uncaring of who they have hurt, or irresponsible.” I know, I have been there. They feel like shame is penance for what they did. If they let it go, they are “a terrible person” since they NEED to take responsibility for that. (And you know what I think about “need.”) Ironically, if they let it go, they would no longer think that they are a terrible person.
There is no risk to self forgiveness.
Self forgiveness is seeing the you, the preferred you beyond the blame and shame. Knowing that you are more than what happened to you, more than the names you’ve been called, more than your neediness and more than your bad luck might suggest.
Forgive yourself for “allowing yourself to be abused,” forgive yourself for being anxious, forgive yourself for getting a divorce, for surviving when someone else didn’t, for not being lovable, for not being thin enough, smart enough, for not “saving” your loved one, for being an imperfect mother. (All of that is in your head anyway.) You did the best you could, and you made it here. And I am sure you did far better than you imagined.
Forgive. You will not get struck with lightening. You are innocent.
Shame is familiar, and it is scary to give up. What if forgiveness feels worse? Forgiveness is how we heal, healing–by definition–cannot be worse. You will feel better.
Shame keeps you stuck under a really heavy weight. A weight that is not yours to carry. Forgive like there is no tomorrow, like you have done nothing wrong, because you haven’t. You are innocent.
You are innocent. And loved. Oh so loved.
Don’t forget, forgiveness is a verb, you keep committing to it, shame is familiar. It’ll keep coming back for a while, expect it, greet it, and let it go again and again.
Are you ready to try?
For added inspiration, read the short poem The Calm Came Back by Danielle Boostra.