I saw a semi-humorous quote today that read: “God may forgive your sins, but your nervous system won’t.” You may have thought of this in a different way – “I can’t forgive myself.”
Part of the challenge is that guilt often leads us to limit ourselves in our thinking. We say things like, “I’m always messing up at work” or “I’ll never get out of debt.” One step to begin to forgive yourself is to deconstruct these thoughts and beliefs that limit us from moving forward.
Letting go of something in our past isn’t easy, because after all it’s our past – it’s part of us. Just know, at any given time, we are all doing the best that we can. If you’ve done something in your past you regret, remind yourself that at the time you were either doing the best you could or had no idea how much you would regret the action in the future.
Keep in mind that we do learn from our mistakes and failures. As painful as they are, they can and should be stepping stones to getting some place better.
Finally, it’s easier to forgive someone you love. And people we don’t love, we can choose to walk away from. But we can’t walk away from ourselves, so it’s best that we do something more loving – give ourselves a break and the benefit of the doubt.
Remember is forgiveness is always about letting go of bitterness, sadness or hatred. Even when we forgive someone else, it really is for us. We are not letting them off the hook – we are choosing to no longer being bitter, sad or angry. So if you keep beating yourself up over something in your past, make it a point to do something you’ve needed to do for a long time – forgive yourself.
*Eric has his Masters in Counseling and when not on B105.7, works as a private practice counselor.**
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