In order to become more peaceful within, it's essential to learn how to forgive. Some of us may not struggle with forgiveness and some of us may. Regardless of where you stand with the concept of forgiveness, ultimately everything is interconnected. When we learn how to forgive ourselves we, simultaneously, learn how to forgive others. How we treat ourself will always be reflected by how we treat others.
Forgiveness is an act of surrender. It's letting go of any blame or regret around past mistakes, large or small. It's releasing any shame around actions of the past. It's practicing acceptance of past choices, while believing that you did your best given the time of life and situation at hand. Period. It's acceptance of where you’re at in your life currently, whether it’s what you envisioned for this time or not.
Life rarely turns out how we expect it too. That's what keeps it interesting.
So often in life, the biggest battle we face is with our own self. Finding inner peace asks us to find acceptance of who we are at the core. Forgiving ourself requires us to accept that we are imperfect. Accepting imperfection allows us to make mistakes along the way without feeling shame. The path toward this acceptance comes with realizing that mistakes are gateways toward learning personal lessons. A mistake is like a compass......gently guiding you along. Trust that.
For the record, truly living requires risk and going outside your comfort zone in order to grow. The truth is that you should and will continue to make mistakes if your really living, learning and growing. It's human. Mistakes can help you learn what's ultimately right for you. Without mistakes or risks, life can become still and dull. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, tie your hair back and take a step toward something unknown, especially when you can't possibly predict the outcome.
That's where the biggest rewards often live. In the complete unknown.
Self forgiveness can be tricky. Finding forgiveness for ourselves is often more difficult than forgiving others. Ironically, as I said earlier, how you treat yourself is always reflected in how you treat others. This will always be. For example, if you’re not forgiving of your own mistakes, it will be a challenge for you to forgive others. Non forgiveness is a habit that carries onto everything.
Much of what drives our want for others to forgive and acknowledge us, is our inner desire to forgive ourself.
For the record, you don’t need another’s permission or validation to be worthy and deserving of forgiveness. The truth is that you will become stuck by holding onto past resentments, hurts and living in regret. Living in regret is a really miserable place to live and pointless. Figuring out how to let go, surrender the past and ultimately forgive yourself for any human mistakes you've made along the way is essential for your happiness.
If you’re struggling with the concept of forgiveness. First and foremost, I point you toward looking at the relationship with your own self. My guess is that, if you're chronically “hard” on yourself, you're more likely to be hard on others. If you struggle with forgiving yourself for past actions and mistakes, you're also more likely to judge others just as harshly. This creates a lot of unneeded struggle.
With that being said, the gateway to untangle this destructive pattern is to work toward accepting the past and where it has led you as of right now, in this moment. No judgement. No story attached to your current reality of how it "should" look differently. As you practice non judgement and acceptance you will be able to find more peace with the past and your current life situation. Believing that everything has been and will continue to be presented to you in order for you to learn is a perspective that can help you find acceptance.
Easier said than done, I know. Although, learning how to be more gentle with yourself will organically untangle all the fixed and rigid emotions that create the harsh cycle of non forgiveness.
Here are some quick tips to remember around forgiveness:
Accept that you will make mistakes; Mistakes can help you to learn more about what you do and don’t want.
Accept that life is a journey that is constantly shifting and changing; Get out of your own way by accepting where you are. Practice believing that you're right where you should be. Resisting this idea will just bring suffering.
Accept that “your best” effort might shift with the days, cycles and time periods of your life; Realize that you cannot always be on your “A game,” nor is it human to always show up 100%.
Accept the imperfection that is human. Shift away from looking at things from a "right" and "wrong" standpoint. That tends to breed blame and points fingers.
Forgiving yourself will improve your life. Forgiving both yourself and others will release unnecessary suffering and pain that you're holding onto. It’s worth it to take a look at your relationship with forgiveness. It can be a huge game changer to shift your relationship with this concept.
* Image by Amy Lynn Bjornson, San Diego Photographer.