WE have all faux pas’d and live with some guilt. Whether we cheated on a test or in a relationship. Or maybe we let ourselves go. Maybe we yelled at someone a bit to loudly and harshly. Sure, some of our transgressions were pretty bad, maybe you broke the law. Or maybe it was just standing someone up and still feeling crappy for doing so.
If you still remember the action and still feel a twinge of guilt or major pangs of guilt, its time to forgive yourself. Look in the mirror and apoligize to yourself for making the poor judgement calls, for hurting others, for hurting yourself, for not being perfect, for being human, for letting yourself get pulled into bad situations and not being strong enough to get out, for not saying no or for saying yes. This is not about abdicating responsibilty, not at all, its about letting go of screwing up and moving forward. Sometimes you can go to that person you hurt, and say you are sorry. Sometimes you can make a donation of time, money, or things to make an atonement for your long ago transgressions.
Or maybe do something extra if you feel bad about something you did. Forgiving yourself is not about saying, oh nevermind that I was awful. It saying, well, I WAS awful, and I won’t be anymore, and I learned something. Its also about letting go of what you DIDN’T do. All you can do know is make this Day One.
One of the 12 steps is all about confession, but I really believe sometimes confession or asking for forgiveness can be selfish.
There was a Dear Abby piece about school bullies apologizing at reunions, some even asking for the “victim” to accept the apology. I don’t think the confessor should ask for forgiveness from someone else. That is almost another form of bullying, oh forgive me cause I feel so bad for what I did. What the former bullies should have done was say “I am really sorry for being such a bully in High School and for saying and doing such horrid things, you didn’t deserve any of it. Thank you for letting me tell you that.” Don’t demand acceptance for what you did, but feel better for having apologized.
Confessions are more for the confessor than for the person they wronged. Sometimes, sharing what you did doesn’t make the other person feel any better. So think good and hard why you are confessing. Is it for you or for the other person? And be totally prepared for the consequences, which may be well deserved. If you confess, don’t demand forgivness, say, “I hope one day you can forgive me.” And then give it time. That person need to process what just was said and deserve the time to choose.
Forgiving yourself is the first step in being able to really be able to apologize to others and fix the wrongs.
If someone apologizes to you, you can accept the apology, or you can not. It is totally your call. Accepting the apology does not mean you forgive them, it means you realize they are trying and they may or many not mean it. You do not have to forgive them, that is not your responsibility. And not accepting an apology should not make you feel bad, it is your right, and somethings can’t and shouldn’t be forgiven.
But in order to grow and change and make YOURSELF a better person, and forgive yourself, you accept who you were and who you are, and can then move forward. You can truly only fix yourself, but you can try and ease some of the pain or problems you caused.
Today, forgive yourself for something you did, and then find a way to make-up for that.
My transgression that I forgave myself for today was baling on a friend a couple of years ago before a trip. The reasons don’t matter. It was one of the reasons I lost the friend. I have apologized to my old friend and paid for my share, but she has still refused to accept my apology. Today, I forgive myself for that mess.