Do You Need to Forgive Yourself?

“Forgive yourself,” he said. This statement smacked me in the face because I thought I already had.

Learning to forgive yourself is a crucial part of any healing journey. It’s even a critical part of success.

In this life, some days are wonderful and we want to keep them on replay. Then, there are those days that we want to just wipe away from our memories. If you don’t learn to forgive yourself (and others), your past will continue to haunt and torment you. 

There are times in life when people—whether intentional or not—disappoint or hurt us. These instances have the power to leave us emotionally and mentally scarred, and even paralyzed. There are also times in life when we disappoint or harm ourselves by our own actions. When you forgive yourself, you give yourself permission to experience internal peace and healing. 

It’s easy to forgive someone when they give you an honest apology; it’s much harder to forgive when they never apologize or show no regret or remorse. It is even harder when you have no explanations for that person(s) behavior and no possible way of getting those answers.

A little story time…

In my early 20’s, one of my mentors caused me significant emotional harm. At the time, I was looking for approval, wisdom, and guidance in life. Instead, I found myself confused and emotionally scarred. Over the next ten years, this “enemy” lived in my mind. Those initial disappointments turned into insecurity, doubt, and low self-esteem in so many areas of my life. I was emotionally scarred.

In the following years, I convinced myself that I forgave this person. However, at times, I found myself bitter and angry about the harm this person caused. They took advantage of their position in my life and I was still angry. I wanted an apology and remorse. I never received that.

One day, during one of my animated discussions about this person, a close friend said “you really hate [insert person’s name here], huh?” I was flabbergasted and appalled by the thought that I could harbor hatred toward someone. But more than that, the possibility of truth was terrifying. I quickly denied it and said “maybe a long time ago, but I forgave them. I’m good now, really.”

Hate was too strong a word for me to admit. But, my friend’s comment acted as a mirror and it was true. I hated that they misled me. I hated that I lost a mentor and I hated the fact that I was still allowing them to have control over my emotions.

After telling him that I forgive them many times (in my head), he said, “Well, then you need to forgive yourself.” 

At that moment, I realized that I was still affected. In many ways, that disappointment was still impacting my life. Since I never received an apology or acknowledgment from the person, I was unable to move on. I didn’t have closure.

I thought I had moved on. In my mind, I was stronger and more confident than anything anyone could do to me. I wanted to be unaffected. After so many years, I was upset with myself for even allowing this person to still affect me. I thought I had moved on.

Yet, he was right. It was still affecting me.

The good news: I started forgiving myself which allowed me to really start healing. While we cannot always control what other people do to us, we can control how long we allow it to impact our current reality.

Whether you already forgave the person(s) who hurt you or you are working on getting to that point, please take some time right now to start practicing forgiving yourself.

Set yourself free and start embracing your healing.

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