“Oh My Thirties” co-host and friend, Corrinne Williams, shared this title gem from her grandmother with me. The original phrase inverted blessing and forgiveness (which are arguably interchangeable), but in either order, the phrase spoke to me personally.
In our most recent podcast, “Forgiveness,” Corrinne and I unpack all the ins and outs of forgiveness, particularly as it relates to an absent parent. But in true OMT form, we dived into the layers of unforgiveness and how to overcome.
Forgiveness can be such a major part of health—emotional, spiritual, even physical. Just think of the phrase “let go of the hurt,”--if it can hurt you, you can put forgiveness on it. And even though the phrase has become pretty cliché, it’s still a real thing. There are thousands of books, blogs, chat circles, and focus groups on how to forgive others, and many of us have been doing work to get to a good place-- self-included. Yet after the workbooks are shelved and the playlists have run out, I realized that so much of my work around forgiveness needed to start from within; I needed to forgive myself.
In our years here on Earth, we’ve all done things we might not be proud of. Maybe some things we did outright; maybe it was our inaction that we have to work through. We could have even been far removed from circumstances, but the emotions weigh heavier than anything. All that to say, sometimes forgiving yourself can be the biggest and most necessary exercise above all.
For me, unforgiveness of self has had more of an influence that I realized. Unforgiveness showed up in my relationships with others, with myself, and even my responses to and outlook on life. And I didn't realize it until many years later.
A few tools that have helped me to forgive myself.
Give allowance for humanity. You’re not perfect. No one is. You made some misinformed decisions. You could have done better. Things might never be the same now, but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself. It might be unfortunate, but it’s not impossible. You're a human being in a human experience and sometimes things happen. Consider it lessons for life.
Step away. Sometimes you have constant reminders-- certain songs, certain times of year, certain scars. Sometimes you can’t remove yourself from them, but you don’t have to be trapped behind them. Allow yourself to be removed from memories that are not positively serving you. You may not be able to forget, but you don’t have to be bound.
Think good thoughts. I’m a big believer in thoughts informing actions and outcomes; forgiving yourself is no different. Stop beating yourself. Stop cursing yourself out. Stop holding your head down. You may have messed up and fell short, but that’s not all you are. Think well and speak well over yourself.
Smile. No symbolism here. The command is literally to smile. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Catch eyes with your reflection, breathe, and give this amazing person a smile. Look into the eyes of this amazing person and be reminded that that thing, that action, that inaction is not all you are. And you deserve to smile.