Forgive and forget, right?
Wrong. It is never that easy. We’re told from a young age that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Shaking off those words are never easy, to better illustrate this I’d like to share an excerpt from one of my favorite books called Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi found on page 121: “Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures. No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and failing to rip their skeletons from our flesh.” The paragraph illustrates the power of negative words gruesomely. But isn’t that what words to do us? Words said by others and more importantly words said to ourselves. We say forgive and forget when other’s have wronged us but what about when we feel we have been wronged by ourselves?
How do you move on, let it go or forget the damage you inflict on yourself? I’ve heard for every insult you put yourself in debt you should repay yourself with five compliments. But that’s it isn’t it? We are always going to be in debt to ourselves or holding ourselves hostage. Another example from Ignite Me on pages 358 and 359 says: “Words are like seeds, I think, planted into our hearts at a tender age. They take root in us as we grow, settling deep into our souls. The good words plant well. They flourish and find homes in our hearts. They build trunks around our spines, steadying us when we’re feeling most flimsy; planting our feet firmly when we’re feeling most unsure. But the bad words grow poorly. Our trunks infest and spoil until we are hollow and housing the interests of others and not our own. We are forced to eat the fruit those words have borne, held hostage by the branches growing arms around our necks, suffocating us to death, one word at a time.”
Words are powerful and often times we forget just how powerful they can be. We should be telling ourselves kind things, learning more how to love ourselves. But it’s hard to love yourself when guilt, self-loathing, and bitterness take place into our minds. These feelings can be brought on by others and their actions, yourself and your actions or maybe both.
We make mistakes in life. But we’re told to have no regrets, that everything always happens for a reason. Having that mindset isn’t always the best. We get stuck on maybe trying to find those reasons and possibly end up blaming ourselves. It’s important to recognize where the blame comes from. If you feel you’ve done wrong then take responsibility and forgive yourself. If you feel you’ve been wronged then don’t harbor the unnecessary guilt that comes along with blaming yourself for things that are not your fault.
Placing blame on yourself can come from any past mistake. A guy you ruined your beliefs for by sleeping with him. A razor to your skin. A drug ingested multiple times. Alcohol drank to feel numb. Anything that compromises your beliefs and morals, we feel uncomfortable. In psychological terms this is called the Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Our attitude and behavior is inconsistent which is psychologically unpleasant. We resolve this inconsistency, rid ourselves of this discomfort by changing our attitudes. If you’re against premarital sex and you engage in premarital sex you feel uncomfortable because your actions are no longer matching your beliefs. So you start to think that eh maybe premarital sex isn’t so bad. This thought process alone is to avoid feeling guilty.
Instead of forgiving yourself you make up more excuses. Or change who you are completely. Understanding that you have potentially made choices that are your fault shouldn’t make you feel more guilt. You should look at yourself and apologize for causing yourself pain. You’ve wronged your body with self inflicted pain? Say you’re sorry. Apologize to yourself like you’d apologize to your friend.
If you’ve read my mental illness post then you know I struggled with depression and guilt. Forgiving myself was one of the steps that had to be taken to be able to no longer hate myself. From a Christian aspect we should forgive ourselves because Christ has forgiven us and loves us regardless of our sins. That is easier said than done. I felt unworthy to even love myself, leaving me being unable to forgive myself.
Once I forgave myself of the transgressions I inflicted on myself I was in fact able to move on. Not forget. I will never forget where the choices I have made left me. But I no longer blame myself. Blame ends with forgiveness.
Why is forgiving yourself so hard? I’ve spent days struggling to get my brain to connect with my fingers to get the answer to this question. To be honest I’ve come up blank. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. There are too many variables for this question to be tested and answered correctly. Forgiveness is personal. It depends on what kind of background you come from, what religion you practice and your world views. I can only tell you that to be able to forgive yourself you’ve got to stop doing the thing that is causing you the guilt. You can’t keep giving yourself a reason to need forgiveness and expect life to go on. You have to acknowledge what has caused you guilt or pain and cut that out of your life. Once that is complete only then forgiveness can be reached.
Sometimes we just want to keep those things buried, move on from them and pretend they never happened. Maybe they’ve hurt too bad or its been too long. Doing this never really solves the problem, only prolongs it. I believe it is only okay to do this after you’ve forgiven yourself. Release yourself from the burden. To be sorry comes with admitting that you were wrong or what you’ve done is wrong. We don’t like to be wrong and admitting to that could be a sign of weakness. What I suggest is writing a letter. Write out what you need to apologize for. Everything you’ve done wrong put it on paper. Doing this can allow you to get these things off your chest and let them go. For Christians it takes repentance. Christ has taken the burden off our shoulders. For that I am thankful.
Love yourself. Every aspect of yourself. Accept the apology you have given yourself. Tell yourself thank you. You deserve your love. Life is hard, don’t make it harder then it has to be.