Forgiving Yourself: The Real Challenge

Not too long ago, I wrote about how hard it is to learn to cope with the words people say. How we find ourselves challenged and hurt by things. But something I nestled in there was words about forgiving yourself. Forgiveness in general is sometimes a hard topic to think about. Because at its core it is saying that when someone wrongs you that you accept that it happened but you’re going either move past it or stop feeling angry about something. It is a willingness really. The willingness to just drop everything. Drop all that negativity and accept that it cannot be undone and move on with life.

When you think about forgiveness you think about the things people have done to you. The things that were painful and we still are left reeling from. Maybe it was the man of your dreams and all the disappointments he left you with.  A friend that betrayed you and made you feel small. When forgiveness comes to mind, it usually is what others have done to us. And it is true. People do things that make us harbour such a resentment towards them. That we do have to question it and decide if it is something we need to let go.

However, what if. What if the person doing those hurtful things is ourselves? That all the bad things or horrible things that hurt is…is the person we’ve lived our whole lives with? What then. What then is forgiveness in the sight of ourselves in the mirror. And that is a hard question because, it is not like forgiving another person. No, it is dealing with what we’ve done. The things in our past. The things that keep us up at night. Because there’s a saying that is so true. And honestly, I am not the biggest fan of Nietzsche however, he once wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra;

But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain.

Now again I am not the biggest fan of Nietzsche for numerous reasons. And that’s an entire post for a different time. But he did nail something so perfectly right here. That speaks volumes on us and what we do to ourselves. What Nietzsche so clearly points out is that the thing that is the worst enemy. Is ourselves. We lay traps and do horrible things to ourselves. He says we doubt ourselves and do unholy things to ourselves. These are things that happen that we may see clearly. Or might not even notice at all. Well he uses some colourful language to describe it. It is just the things we are doing to ourselves. The things that happens throughout our lives. We often lose sight that we are not perfect. And we will bring harm to ourselves emotionally and at times physically. And they can be simple. Or they can be long standing actions wound up around experiences we’ve had over the course of years.

And this is where it gets even more complicated. We are doing the one doing this. And it takes manifestations in so many different forms. Maybe we’re blaming ourselves for a failed relationship. Or perhaps we are angry at ourselves because we cannot be happy. We had a bad argument and lashed out at a love one. The way and things we say or do. When it is, ourselves hurting ourselves. It is not the same as someone else.

We can choose to forgive another. And move on with life. But then when we go to forgive ourselves. Sometimes we are more hesitant.  Maybe we did not marry the person are family wanted and went after our true love. And instead of going external we turn inward. And direct that disappointment to ourselves. And it hurts. No matter what it is, we can hurt ourselves.

And when someone including ourselves hurt someone. We they seek forgiveness and we should too. We are so good at times of sabotaging and hurting ourselves. But why can’t we be good at forgiving ourselves? Because it is a hard journey. I spent years learning to forgive myself. And I can tell you, the amount of hatred I harboured for myself at times. The days of resentment. Waking up and fighting myself just to pull it together so no one else would know. It was taxing. It dragged me down into the depth of a hell you never want to be in.

When you don’t forgive, yourself you carry guilt, resentment, shame, hurt, or we even punish ourselves. And that gets in the way of happiness. It gets in the way of relationships. It doesn’t allow you to move on and truly enjoy the life that God has given us. We must learn to forgive ourselves.  You know why it is so scary to think that about this at times? Because we’re going to spend the rest of our lives with the very person we are. And imagine living a life with a person you hate every day in and out. That is the unhealthiest relationship in the world. You cannot go on like that.

But how do you learn to forgive? I am no expert. But it must start with love. You should show kindness, you should show love, you should show that no matter what happens it is okay we are not perfect. No one is. We all make mistakes. We all hurt each other and ourselves. We all do things that may not be right. But we aren’t designed to be perfect. We’re designed to be unique individuals. All different, with our own quirks and vices. But that is the person you must love.

When you unconditionally, love yourself you begin to accept your faults and mistakes. You know that no matter what you are who you are. And it is okay when things do not go correctly, or life goes astray because that happens. Not a single person on this earth can say they’ve done nothing wrong. I personally know I’ve broken hearts, said mean things, done things I am not proud of. And did it hurt other people. Yes. Did it hurt myself? Yes. Others have forgiven me for it. And it took a long time to just let it go. Just look at myself in the mirror and say. “Cameron. I know. I know you’re not perfect. I know it hurts but I forgive you.”

When you love yourself, you accept yourself. You accept the person you are. You let go of the past. You don’t hold on to the things that happened and you can’t change. Because the past is what was done. And that’s over and done with. You can get that back. Time travel is a pipe dream. And the paradoxes that would be created if it existed would tear the fabric of the universe asunder. Our lives are linear with many decisions and choices. So, we made the choice that set us in the present. And that’s where we need to focus. Loving ourselves here and now and looking at the past and saying. I’m going to let that go. I am going to love myself. I accept who I am and what I’ve done.

Again, it’s not about being perfect or trying to promise we will never do things again that are hurtful to ourselves. Because it will happen again. I promise you that. But. What we can do is love ourselves. And forgive ourselves. And live with that idea. It is the only way to find happiness. It is the only way we can live our lives. You know what it feels like to hate and not want to forgive yourself? It feels like every day waking up in chains wrapped around you. Strangling the life out of you. You can try to fake happiness and that you’re okay. But it doesn’t work. You grow tired. You lose sight of things. Is drowns out the light. And blots the sky with darkness. But in it there is a smouldering ember.

And it can transform you. It brings you back, and help you find happiness and it can help you find contentedness. I can’t think of any quotes right to sum this up but you can find them everywhere. You can find Tedtalks about not holding on to the past. Or even regret.

For me, I had to fix myself to find out what was wrong. And what I was holding onto. And eventually. I just let it go. I choose to no longer carry those sins with me. To not carry the things, I blamed myself for. Because they happened. And I accepted I am never going to be perfect. But I will still live a life where I give my best. If I fall short so be it, but I will fight for things and people I love. And. I will fight for myself because I love who I am. And who I will be. This past doesn’t define me.

And you know, the minute I forgave myself. I felt this rush of pure confidence and relief. Like years of carrying a weight around had left me. So, I ask you. What’s wrong with loving yourself? And let yourself know, that everything is okay. And that you accept who you are and what you’ve done. But more so you’re willing to move on. To be blunter, life is too short to spend it not letting things go. Especially if it what we’ve done to ourselves. Because we’re going to spend the entirety of live with that person in the mirror. So maybe now is the time to change that….



Additional Help

I normally don’t do this but if you’re seriously struggling please please please please please. Take the steps to find help. Talk to your pastor. Talk to a loved one. Talk to a therapist . If you know someone in need of help don’t be afraid to refer them to the many services available. Being unable to forgive yourself can cause serious problems. I’ve been there. So, take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because that’s truly the first step. Taking care of yourself.




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