Why Forgiveness is an Act of Kindness Towards Yourself

Last week on the blog I wrote about what to do when someone hurts your feelings. One of the things that...

Last week on the blog I wrote about what to do when someone hurts your feelings. One of the things that I mention in the post is forgiveness, as a way to help you move past whatever someone did to hurt you.

Since the post has been up, I’ve received a number of emails from readers telling me how difficult it is to practice forgiveness sometimes, and how unfair it feels having to be the one “doing the work” when someone else should be doing it instead.

Thank you all for sending me these great questions. They made me think, and want to dig a little deeper into what forgiveness actually is, and why it’s a true act of kindness towards yourself…

Learn to forgive yourself first

We all have things that we’re not proud of, that annoy us about ourselves, that linger on from the past. Bad decisions we made, situations we didn’t deal with as good as we could have, people we hurt…

I like to think that everything begins with ourselves, forgiveness included. And just like I believe you cannot love someone deeply, truly, fully until you give that same kind of love to yourself, I believe you cannot enjoy the benefits of forgiveness entirely until you’ve learned how to forgive yourself.

So the first step towards forgiveness is not about giving your blessings to someone else, but surrounding your own bright self with the loving-kindness that comes from not beating yourself down anymore over a mistake you made, accepting that you’ve dealt with a situation in a shitty way or made a mistake, and silencing your inner nasty when she’s putting on the blame game.

An easy, yet super powerful way to practice self-forgiveness is this:

  • Give yourself credit for recognizing your mistake (or whatever it is you’re blaming yourself for). This is the first step towards growth, and not a trivial thing! You deserve to be proud of yourself. Shoulder tap lady!
  • Accept that mistakes are a part of life, and that you’re not the first one to make one, nor that this is the last one you’ll ever make. As a recovering people-pleaser, and somewhat of a recovering perfectionist too (hum hum), this was a difficult lesson for me to learn. For a long time my anxiety, and worry revolved almost entirely around me making mistakes. This made it hard for me to be social, go out and enjoy myself because the next days I would be filled with anxiety, worrying about what those people at the party thought of me, and whether or not I’d said the right thing, and been the right way (as if that exists!) all night long. A total nightmare! Until I accepted that I would never be perfect, and that mistakes were part of my life’s journey.
  • Know that you are a magical being that learns, and grows all the time! Mistakes are always in the past. And guess what? You don’t live there! You live in the present. Every moment of your life you have the choice to learn from your mistakes so that you can grow into a better version of yourself. I use this growth mindset attitude on a daily basis. Understanding that I’m not my mistakes, that I can outgrow them, and learn from them at the same time comforts me, and helps me to forgive myself.

Now it’s time to start forgiving others

Forgiving yourself is the most important step – but it’s only the first one. Practice it often, whenever you feel you need to. But don’t fall in the trap I fell into for so long: becoming great at forgiving yourself, but walking around with frustrations, sadness, and hurt feelings as a result of what others have done to you.

If you do, you’ll hang on to toxic energy that – newsflash! – only you feel! That’s right. The person that hurt you is most probably totally in the dark about what you’re feeling, and is not being hurt back. Only you are – again!

Forgiving others is a difficult thing to do. Believe me, I know!

And if you’re anything like me, it won’t come to you overnight either… (damn ego!). But you can do it, and it is so absolutely liberating, that I promise you.

The way I forgive others is not driven by selflessness (sorry Buddha, not there yet) but by sheer self-love.

Because forgiving others means being happier, living a better life, removing toxic energy, moving on… good things that will affect your own life first, not always that of the person you’re forgiving.

Forgiving someone comes down almost the same steps as the self-forgiveness practice above:

  • Give yourself credit for recognizing that someone has hurt your feelings. You’re protecting your boundaries, and taking good care of yourself there. Well done! As a people-pleaser, I really had to learn this the hard way… actually recognizing that I’d been hurt instead of internalizing all of it.
  • Accept that mistakes are part of life, and that other people are only human too. It might not make the hurt go away, but it can certainly deflect it from your ego, and help you realize that we’re all in this human experience together.
  • Use the growth mindset to figure out what you can learn when someone hurt your feelings. I believe there’s a silver lining to everything, and this is no exception. Maybe you’ve stumbled on a sensitivity you have that you need to safeguard more, or you weren’t clear on your boundaries enough. This is certainly not to say that you are to blame for someone hurting you, but simply that you can learn how to protect yourself from it.

When you learn to forgive yourself, and others, there’s one universal outcome I believe will come your way: you’ll have a better life. Less stress, less worry, more love, more compassion, and so many other wonderful emotions, feelings, and experiences.

That’s why it’s an act of kindness towards yourself. And for that alone, it’s worth it.

Now do tell me. Is it easy for you to forgive yourself? Others? What works well for you? Let me know below.

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It all starts with You

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