We all mess up at some point in our lives. Strangely but surely, it’s often harder to forgive oneself than to forgive others. How Do I Forgive Myself when I have made a grave mistake I really should never ever have committed?
Have you cheated on your spouse? Shouted at your parents because they forgot to wake you up at 7am? Hit a child in anger? Schemed to get to the top in your career at the expense of others? The list of potential human misdeeds is unquestionably long. It’s no wonder that if you perform a google search on “how do I forgive myself” – it yields 16.8 million of results.
Recently in the media in certain parts of Asia, there were news of an ex principal, a media mogul and many famous and perhaps less famous people involved in an online vice surrounding an underaged girl. The scandal apparently involved some 80 people being charged in court, and an ex-principal receiving a 9 week jail sentence. It was unfortunate but we all make mistakes in our life. Some are just ‘luckier’ in not being found out. When we commit a grave mistake, the people around us are hurt. Our relationships built on trust are broken. If we cheat on our spouses with whom we made lifetime vows, can we still be trusted by our business associates or friends?
The Living Guru is in no position to judge others on what’s right and wrong. Remember to be guided by :
“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
To the ex-principal and Howard Shaw and the rest, perhaps this episode was a blessing in disguise to give you an opportunity to move away from a situation you always wanted to, and realise who your true friends you can count on in times of need. The Living Guru is absolutely certain that many people would want to pray for you if you let them.
But clearly, forgiveness is needed before one can move on to mend relationships etc. And forgiveness starts with learning how to forgive oneself. If The Living Guru may speculate – chances are those who are currently in the media spotlight for the underaged online vice – are beating themselves up in a big way and would give an arm or leg to turn back time…
If you have made mistakes and want to move on or make amends, start with learning how to forgive yourself.
Let’s take a cue from Joretta L. Marshall, a United Methodist minister and professor of pastoral care at the Eden of Theological Seminary in St. Louis regarding how to forgive yourself :
“I think people often try to forgive themselves for the wrong things,”
“We think we ought to forgive ourselves for being human and making human mistakes. People don’t have to forgive themselves for being who they are — gay or lesbian, or having some kind of handicap. Forgiveness means being specific about what we did that needs forgiving.”
The secret to forgiving yourself is to take responsibility for your actions, but not to let your mistake or perceived failure bury you or put you into a state of inaction. When you fail, when you make a mistake, reflect and learn from it and make the effort to move on. Don’t beat yourself up indefinitely.
When you reflect on how to forgive yourself, ask this important question:
“Are you worthy of forgiveness?”
Perhaps that’s the most difficult part, and one way to do so is to give yourself the forgiveness you so willingly give to your loved ones.
In addition, contemplate honestly at what occurred and why. Will you repeat the mistake, or stay away from the scenarios that tempt you to make the mistake? Are there deeper issues that cause the mistake to be made in the first place, that need to be dealt with?
When you arrive at the state of being able to say yes, that you are worthy of forgiveness, in your heart, you are one step closer to forgiving yourself. Do learn to become more resourceful, and ask for help when you need it.
Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself that acknowledges you’re human. It is not dependent on what others say or what the court proclaims. You can’t always stay away from failure, but you can learn how to forgive yourself for failing short of standards required of you. Self hatred, shame, guilt all are feelings that occur to help a human understand that they have done something wrong and are meant to help prevent us from repeating the action.
Next, take constructive steps to consider what you have done to resolve the issue for yourself. Have you given up or are your working doubly or triply hard to repair the problems that resulted. You must put in alot of effort to fix the problems. Look for all viable solutions. Ask for help from others and consider professional help if required. In our society, seeing psychologists or psychiatrists are taboos to many, and you have to recognise that getting professional help is being constructive towards resolution.
Finally, recognise that it’s our conscience that guides our inner selves about what is right and what is wrong. If you are have a religion or believe in God, pray to have the wisdom and peace of heart to reflect and to know what you should do.
Let me quote to you this to encourage you to learn how to forgive yourself –
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn,
and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
– Luke 6:37
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