You are allowed to forgive yourself for anything and everything that has occurred along the way, including the big and little choices that haven’t sat right with you, or brought you in a new undesired direction or harmed you or others. In my last post, which you can read here, I wrote about forgiveness (with its medicinal and freeing powers), focusing primarily on forgiving others. But I forgot to mention an essential aspect of forgiveness: forgiving yourself.
I want to highlight self-forgiveness because it can often get overlooked or dismissed, even when we need it. It’s common to be hard on yourself, expect so much of yourself, and regret your choices even for years down the line, which can heavily disrupt your present life. But I want to remind you that you can forgive yourself for any and all of your actions, even those you swear are unforgivable.
This post is a PSA for you and me, and everyone.
We are all deserving of self-forgiveness, and that includes every one of us.
Like I said, It’s easy to be hard on ourselves. We want the best for our lives, yes? Some of us want to be perfect though, right? But wait, is perfection a real thing? Can we be honest and agree that we are all imperfect beings? If we know that to be true, what kind of standards are we setting for ourselves?
Furthermore, where do these standards originate? Who exactly placed these standards in our heads? Are we not allowed to make mistakes, even ugly ones? And while we’re at it, are mistakes even real? Aren’t we all just guessing and checking and learning along the way? Isn’t that what life is all about? Are we not here on Earth to experience and grow from all of it?
Sometimes we grant leniency to everyone else except for ourselves. Why not extend the sweet and tender act of forgiveness to the one you live with through all the years: yourself?
Okay, but then, maybe you’re thinking, what about the mistakes that are ugly. horrendous, disgusting, and harmful to others? Let me say we each do our best with what we have and know at any given moment. I understand that some people debate this, but I believe it to be true: we always do our best. Each of us does our best. When we know better and can do better, that’s what we do. As we travel the road, we learn more and gain new perspectives. With that, it’s easy to look back and think I should have done better! But isn’t that easy to say when coming from a place , further up the road, with more profound wisdom and a greater understanding? Can you offer yourself some compassion? You deserve this softness and space to be cared for and forgiven.
People grow and change and see with new clarity. Hindsight is 20/20. We see the past, and it begins to make sense; whether it’s been 5 minutes or five years, we can see our choices with more clarity, and we get to reflect on them and grant ourselves compassion and forgiveness for going the way we went and acting the way we did. We begin to understand how we have hurt others and ourselves along the way. Must we punish ourselves for our actions, time and time again?
You may think, “but you don’t know what I DID! It wasn’t good!! It was ugly, disgraceful, and the worst of the worst.”
Maybe. Maybe you did some ugly things (Hey, perhaps I did, too?!) But still, it’s all forgivable, and I’m not the only one who believes this.
So let me ask you, How would you talk to a friend? What would you tell them? (Now, if you’re realizing at this moment that you wouldn’t say to a friend to forgive themselves, then maybe this is an opportunity to open up to the possibilities of forgiveness. Maybe!) But how would you talk to a friend in a perfect world? Would you tell them to be gentle with themselves? Would you tell them it’s all going to be okay and you still love them?
Now, what would happen if you talked to yourself like that?
How would it feel for even a second to forgive yourself?
Breathe into it and feel it.
Listen, I spent years of my life drinking large amounts of alcohol, as much as I could get down my throat, and even that wasn’t enough. And as I’m sure you know, when a person drinks that much, big choices are made from a less than conscious state of mind. If you know, you know.
It hasn’t been easy to forgive myself for some of the choices I have made while in that mindstate. In some ways, it’s a work in progress, but the older I get, the more I see that everyone is on their path; we are all making whatever type of choices, and then we are presented with the opportunity to learn, grow, and become better versions of ourselves. And if this is the case, how are our actions ever unforgivable? How is this not good enough? I’d say we’re doing alright!
Here is something I have been doing as of late. I’ve been imagining my ancestors looking down at me, their chins resting on their fists, watching me in adoration and unconditional love, just like all ancestors do for their people. I imagine them with a soft smile on their face saying “almost.” or “it’s okay.” or “you’ve got this.” It’s a strong, confident, stable sort of support.
Ha! Are these the thoughts of someone who wants to feel better after nearly 20 years in a drunken state? Maybe. Hey, it helps. Imagine, 100 years from now, you’re an angel, looking down at your children or your children’s children, watching them go through it. Wouldn’t you love on them? Support them? Root for them and forgive them?
So why not offer yourself some of that goodness here and now? I think it’s a nice thought and even better in practice. I am sharing this as a reminder if you’ve been looking to read something like this.
Yes, you can forgive yourself even if others have not forgiven you. And yes, you can show compassion, even if someone else isn’t offering you the same. Yes, even the choices you’ve made that have caused great pain or distrust deserve forgiveness. You get to choose. Listen, not everyone will forgive you, and not everyone will tell you if they do. That’s life, baby! We are all on our paths, working through some things. We are all doing our best, even if that has resulted in messiness, hurt, pain, and trauma.
You have the opportunity to do better now. You can pick up and dust yourself off now. And you can forgive yourself for the choices you have made.
Life is here and now, and it’s not a requirement to participate in self-flagellation, even if others are doing so. You can have freedom, and you get to help yourself get there and fill it with sweet tenderness, too.