Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.Buddha
Growing up, I experienced a few instances of bullying – both covert and overt. It was a painful experience, being bullied. But instead of just one instance of being bullied, it came in waves. Crest after crest, like a wound being torn open over and over again, being singled out and excluded from peers was extremely gut-wrenching.
Over the years, I was told repeatedly – “you have to learn to forgive if you want to heal”. However, no matter how many times I forgave the same people in my mind over and over again in multiple healing sessions, relief never came.
Want to know why?
Because I never learned to forgive myself, until a few years ago. My true feelings of shame, doubt, and insecurities I kept hidden – even from myself.
Beneath the tough exterior (I never dared to look), was someone who couldn’t stand the image of her self-reflection because of what it reminded her.
I came to believe that I was weak, that something was wrong with me, and that the world was always out to get me. There must be something I needed to hide so that the world and pain couldn’t track me. And so I built a wall – a thick exterior to keep others out. A shame, really, because I inadvertently locked myself out.
Self-forgiveness doesn’t really get much time on stage. We’re told to forgive and forget, not for those who did us wrong, but for ourselves. But forgiving those outside of ourselves moves us nowhere. Not until we learn to forgive ourselves.
The idea of forgiving yourself may sound foreign – it sure took me a really long time to figure out what or why I would need to forgive myself. How could I do anything to hurt myself?
But believe it or not, you’re the worst perpetrator. Only you can hurt yourself in ways others can’t. You hold the key. You know where to press what buttons, and in what order. And to live through such a harrowing experience of self-directed hatred and shame, you learn to look the other way.
Before you shut your browser with the thought that you don’t have anything to forgive yourself over, ask the following questions (and answer them honestly).
- If you saw a bunch of kids crowding around a helpless boy/girl on the floor, taking turns kicking/hitting the child curled up on the ground, what would be your reaction? How many times a day do you “should” yourself? You know: I should have worked out today… I should have been more attentive to my spouse before leaving for work today… I should have stood up for myself when my supervisor wrongly accused me of causing the company a huge contract/deal… If you have any shoulds like I do, you’re figuratively kicking, punching, and clawing at yourself in distaste and disgust.
- What life regrets do you still live with? Chances are, if you hold any regrets in your heart – you haven’t forgiven yourself for something.
- What is your biggest fear? Fear of failure? Fear of not being good enough? Chances are, you owe it to yourself to send self-compassion and self-forgiveness where it belongs. If you fear failing, or not being good enough, you’ve been feeding yourself poison for decades.
It’s time to take the biggest leap towards healing your heart and soul – it’s necessary if you want to set any meaningful goal in life (trust me, otherwise you’d be spending the better part of your life running circles).
Reach out to me if you need guidance on this part of your journey. I’m only a click away.
Live with intention. Lead with inspiration.