How to Forgive Yourself
Consider the good you can do; rather than the bad you cannot undo.
Most people are not very self forgiving, yet if you cannot forgive yourself what chance have you of forgiving anyone else? When you forgive yourself on not only forgive for yourself; you forgive yourself to also benefit others. If you feel something like, “I need to forgive myself”, then read on…
Forgiving yourself is one of the most unselfish things you can do. Everyone around you benefits as you will have more to give to others – especially you will be more forgiving of others. When you forgive yourself your whole attitude to life changes and improves, your whole way of seeing other people becomes gentler, kinder, more generous and more loving.
In order to forgive yourself you may need to think of a suitable way to make amends to the other person. Making amends can be a very good thing to do, but watch out for self punishment disguised as remorse. Making amends, or even thinking about making amends, should normally bring you a feeling of relief. If it does not then it might be that some form self-harm, or self punishment in disguise. Making amends may cost you; but it should not harm you.
If you have no access to the person (they are out of your life for whatever reason) yet you want to make amends, then do it by proxy and be particularly, kind generous or helpful to someone of the same race, group or type of person – or even just someone at random.
Do you believe God has to forgive you before you can forgive yourself? If so, ask yourself how you know that has not already happened. Then try and complete the Four Steps a few times and see if you are any clearer. (See Does God Forgive Me? in free ebook below)
In forgiving yourself The Four Steps to Forgiveness are basically the same. However, we change Step Three by adding a section on how others will benefit from us forgiving ourselves.
Step 1. I want to forgive myself for:
Pick one specific thing.
Example: I want to forgive myself for getting and saying hurtful things to my brother.
Step 2. I want to release the feelings of:
List the feelings you have around the event. You need to acknowledge those feelings to release them to move forward.
Examples; fear of being punished, self-reproach, self-hate, guilt, shame, etc.
Step 3A. I acknowledge that forgiving this situation will benefit me as I will:
List benefits which will come to you as you become able to forgive yourself. The benefits can include being free of the feelings you listed in Step 2, and feeling their opposite. Benefits can also include being able to create better relationships, getting a better job, having more money, etc., depending on what is relevant to what it is you are forgiving yourself for.
Examples; feel happier, be free, be more relaxed and so on.
As this is a self forgiveness process we add an extra step, Step 3B, to the usual four steps. In this step we focus on the ways others will benefit from you forgiving yourself. Some benefits might be spin-offs from the benefits you receive from forgiving yourself; some might be benefits which come to other people as you become more alive and creative.
Step 3B. I acknowledge that forgiving myself for this will benefit others, because:
Forgiving yourself can benefit others by helping you become a better parent, a more attentive friend, a better listener, and more forgiving person and so on. You might be less self-absorbed and more interested in others. You might become less needy and have more to give. Pick an example of a benefit to others which is likely to really matter to those around you.
Examples; I will be more pleasant to be around (less grumpy, sour and depressed), I will become kinder and more loving. I will have more to give.
Step 4. I forgive myself and I accept the peace and freedom which forgiveness brings.
As well as, or instead of, peace and freedom you can list specific benefits. You can also include benefits which others will receive too from the changes which happen within you as you learn to forgive yourself. Often the benefits you receive directly benefit others too. If you become a happier person, or a better employee, many others around you benefit from that. Being aware of the benefits to others, as we do these Forgiveness Steps, can help make it easier to forgive ourselves.
1. I commit to forgiving myself for getting angry at my wife/husband , so that I am free to live up to my full potential and can become a more loving partner.
2. I commit to forgiving myself for losing my job, so that I can move on and find an even better job with more pay for the benefit of myself and my family.
It is better to do the steps in writing at first. Start with small things, though you will find that with forgiveness there are no small things. Even forgiving yourself for what seems a petty, minor thing which happened long ago can cause big changes. Go round all the steps at least a few times and you will see how the ability and capacity to forgive builds within you as you do so. Add things, change the words you use (if you want) as you go around. Linger over the steps where you feel movement happening within you.
Of course none of this excludes making amends or apologizing where this is feasible and would be helpful; as long as doing so is not going to cause the others involved more pain. If you give it some thought and feel into what is right you will soon get some ideas as to what to do. If it is not possible to make amends; then live your life as best you can. Consider the good you can do; rather than the bad you cannot undo.
Written by: William Fergus Martin
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William Fergus Martin