I don’t believe any of us get through our lives without making some choices or decisions we regret. Some have a minimal impact. Others a more resounding effect. The latter may call for us to exercise the art of self-forgiveness.
Learning how to forgive ourselves asks us to be self-compassionate. It results in us feeling empowered. It’s a crucial component when it comes to letting go of our past mistakes.
Here are some suggestions on how to navigate the process. You can adapt and adjust these with what resonates for you, and remember that with this type of work we often have to revisit it a number of times before we completely heal. The effort pays huge dividends though, because once we release the heavy burden of guilt, regret and shame, we’re left with the blessings of the lessons learnt, the strength gained and the wisdom attained.
- Write a list of everything you received / gained from the situation. This can include what you learnt about yourself.
- Write a list of all the things you will never do again because of what you’ve learnt. This can be beautifully empowering.
- Write a list of the events taking place at the time, and the circumstances you were in, that led you to make the choice you did. This will show you that you did the best you could with where you were and what you knew at the time. It will remind you that hindsight always allows us to see a situation more clearly because we know the outcome. However at the time of our choice we don’t have that birds-eye view. We’re IN the situation and make choices to the best of our ability with the knowledge that we have.
Write a letter to yourself about the situation. You can include why you made the choice, why you wish you hadn’t, and all thoughts and feelings you want to express and release. There’s no need to edit or correct yourself. This is time to let it all out.
Set yourself up for a forgiveness ceremony. You can light some candles, choose special crystals, and create this ritual in any way that feels appropriate.
Burn what you have written (safely). As you do so, you can say something like “I now let go of shame and guilt around….. (fill in the blank with words of your choice here describing the situation). I understand and accept that I made the best possible choices I could at the time. I love myself even though I made a mistake. I forgive myself. I forgive myself. I forgive myself.
Do something to celebrate yourself, the lessons learnt and the letting go. You can buy yourself beautiful flowers, a book you’ve been eyeing out, a new journal, or take a long bath, enjoy a scrumptious meal, or anything that closes off the ceremony positively.
Every time regret comes up around the situation, find your most compassionate and kind voice. Think of how you would respond if a close friend or your child (if you have one) came to you feeling remorseful about something they did. What would you say to them? What tone of voice would you use? What reassurance, understanding and acceptance would you offer? Each time negative feelings resurface, draw upon that voice of self-compassion. This will not only soothe you, it will also facilitate further self-forgiveness.
Find a meditation you enjoy on self-forgiveness or loving-kindness and listen to it as often as you can, to reinforce the process at a sub-conscious level.
A FINAL NOTE
We all make mistakes. It’s part and parcel of life. Often though they turn out to be our best (albeit sometimes most painful) teachers. When we don’t forgive ourselves we keep our energy locked into the situation, instead of focusing on the incredible knowledge and growth gained.
Take your gaze off the choice. Remember it was made with good intentions and the information you had at the time. Focus on the learning. You are stronger, more resilient and so much wiser because of what happened.
Forgiving your beautiful self will bring you liberation.
So go forth and be free.
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