“I have some issues with my past self but she was young and I forgive her” – This was a saying on a t-shirt of an illustration (artist unknown) that I posted on Instagram. Through the power of social media, this has already been shared over 300 times (30 times my normal share count). Throughout all of the shares, comments, and direct messages, I realized that forgiveness could feel like an unknown territory. A scary, vulnerable territory that not many people want to step into…but why? Many of my followers believe that they need to heal first, and then forgive. On the contrary, forgiveness leads to healing. Trusting in the power of forgiveness, especially for yourself can heal the hurt and pain. A lack of forgiveness can cause self-sabotaging behavior, so with that being said forgiveness is necessary.
Ok Natalie…that’s great, but how do I start this process?
First, I want you to be really honest with yourself and answer these following prompts with as much vulnerability as possible.
Steps to self-forgiveness
Write these down, if possible.
Take 3 deep breaths, inhaling for the count of 3, holding for 3, exhaling for 3. With each breath, set the intention that you will allow yourself to be open to change.
What do you need to forgive yourself for? Notice any feelings that were triggered by these thoughts and give yourself permission to acknowledge and process your emotions. Normally, the first thought that comes to mind is a thought you need to pay attention to.
Now, I want you to acknowledge that a mistake was made, and also acknowledge what you learned from that mistake. This will help your mind to view this mistake in a more positive light. The mistakes were all learning experiences, even if it was made multiple times. Remind yourself that you did the best you could at the moment, but now it is time to use that learning experience as a tool for growth. I want you to also notice any resistance you have at any moment during this process and write that down as well.
What is your inner critic telling you? You can even have a conversation with this irrational inner critic. Using compassion and kindness (if you were talking to your best friend), speak to this inner critic giving a rational response to each message. These can also be written down to help you organize your thoughts. It is also important to take the advice you would give your own best friend or someone that you care about.
Next, I want you to pay attention to your own self-talk and how you replay it over and over. Recognize 3 ways you speak to yourself negatively, such as “I’m a horrible person”, “I’m a mess’, “I keep repeating the same relationship over and over”, etc. When you notice yourself thinking or speaking these, imaging a STOP button in your mind and press it. Create a new, helpful saying and think or speak that instead. You could say something like, ‘Even though I have repeated the same relationship over and over, I have learned and I am now choosing to only allow healthy relationships into my life”. You are acknowledging it, and creating a different outcome.
By taking these steps, you will realize that forgiveness is a choice. Just as you are choosing to be hard on yourself and blame yourself, you can also choose to forgive. The question is, what feelings are getting in the way of your choice to forgive? Is it guilt, anger, resentment? Do you feel that you need to punish yourself for “being stupid”? These are the types of beliefs I have seen in my clients, and they do not serve you. They only give more power to the negative emotions and strengthen them.
If you find that you are still struggling to forgive yourself, it may be beneficial to see professional help. Forgiveness is important for growth in all aspects of life. Feel free to schedule a consultation with me to see if an Inner Child Healing may benefit you.
YOU ARE WORTHY OF FORGIVENESS.