Is it yourself?
This week, forgiveness has rested itself on my heart.
What do we talk about when we talk about forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the letting go of the inner pain. It is letting go of the torment of regret, revenge and negative thoughts that have held you captive, not giving yourself the grace to move forward.
Struggling with forgiveness for a long time, I can understand the pain associated with it. It consumed me. I held me in the dungeon of my own self-loathing and left me reeling in the turbulence of my own lack of self-love.
As I write this, it is the rainiest day of Spring so far. Everything feels cold. The sun has retreated behind the clouds, and rain is continuing its role in replenishing and cleansing. It is Spring, unfiltered. There will be sun again.
I am careful with forgiveness on the whole. Not with administering it, but of overselling it. Forgiveness is often pitted as trying to make sense of the wrong somebody has done to you. Of the boundary crossed, or the upset that was made apparent in your heart.
Far too often, though, we forget about the most important kind of forgiveness: to ourselves.
Let us ask for forgiveness. Not of 'God who has never condemned us,' but of ourselves, for all we think we did and did not do. Let us give ourselves permission to begin again. - Marianne Williamson
I am still atoning.
I am atoning for malicious words. For passivity. For insensitivity. For being too responsive, and not reflective enough.
Of late, we have nothing but time so I have naturally been thinking about who I was, who I am and who I want to be. Like so many, I have had run-ins with people who have considered me any number of things because that is simply what I represented to them in their grand story. In some ways, I played the part of the role given to me, but I struggled to look back on my past with such pride.
One thing I need to be able and willing to forgive myself for are opportunities I believed were missed. This year has been a very clarifying year so far for me, but 2019 was a year I didn't look back on with much pride and acknowledgement for the journey.
Outside of failing to get a men's health column off the ground, leaving a news organisation acrimoniously, one of my podcasts ending, friendships ending and my Nan passing away it was a very troubling year for me.
The thing is, I have to be willing to change my mind about the situation I found myself in. Learning to forgive myself for not taking the time and coming to the best decision possible is important.
According to Psychcentral.com:
Forgiveness can be a gift that we give to ourselves.
Here are some easy steps towards forgiveness: Acknowledge your own inner pain. Express those emotions in non-hurtful ways without yelling or attacking. Protect yourself from further victimization. Try to understand the point of view and motivations of the person to be forgiven; replace anger with compassion. Forgive yourself for your role in the relationship. Decide whether to remain in the relationship. Perform the overt act of forgiveness verbally or in writing.
If the person is dead or unreachable, you can still write down your feelings in letter form.
Don't be so hard on yourselves.
My friend told me to not be so hard on myself. Give myself the grace to be loved by myself and others. Atoning for things that have passed, for the role in you played in a relationship, for staying in a relationship that wasn't serving you.
If you are struggling with a decision, or continue to look back to a past that no longer exists and beat yourself up, it's time you forgave yourself.
Pull out the journal. Listen to a podcast that is supportive of your journey. Through mine, or through others. (Would you like a podcast episode playlist organised by themes? Let me know.)
If you are labouring over a failed friendship, relationship or an acrimonious ending of some kind, it's time to forgive yourself.
If you said something on the internet long before you had fully formed your opinion as a young person, it's time to forgive yourself.
We can't look to other people for validation and forgiveness. We need to be able to understand that within ourselves lies the power to change. We are holding ourselves accountable for the actions of people we don't recognise anymore.
Be easy on yourselves. I'm trying to be.
The past cannot be returned to and amended, while the future can't be identified with until it happens. The present is what we have to work and play with, so that is something that we need to bear in mind when administering ourselves with very troubling thoughts about ourselves and our past actions.
Blaming ourselves, being harsh on ourselves - all of these things damage our spirit.
They keep us from elevating, and it's like if you have you ever held a grudge so long, you have no idea why you are holding it?
That you just know that the person you are bearing the grudge deserves your scorn?
Do you believe yourself to be deserving of scorn? Of derision, each and every day for the rest of your life?
It is so much easier for people to hold onto grudges than to let them go. It is so much easier for people to chastise themselves than to tell themselves that they are loved.
I write this for the people who wound themselves, like I do, with the thoughts of the past.
But most of all, I write this for the people to whom I may have caused some kind of harm, likewise the ones I have taken longer than usual to forgive. I write this for perspective and reflection.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting the way you were treated as justified. It means moving forward and freeing yourself from the pain.
Who have you not forgiven?
When will you move on?
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