Forgive yourself first

Forgive yourself first
Being able to forgive yourself may just be the most important part of a balanced emotional life. Many scholars, gurus, books, and philosophies emphasize the essence and importance of forgiveness. Everyone explains it in their own way, but the ultimate message is always the same: forgiveness is liberating for your heart and soul.

It disconnects you from emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, feelings of injustice, and powerlessness, not to mention the event itself that caused you this pain. If you have been hurt in any way or by anyone, forgiveness from everyone involved, including yourself, is the beginning of the recovery process. Why is that?

Information processing

The mind is constantly given an enormous amount of information that it has to process. Basically, it doesn’t do its job that bad; in fact, it does a great job of processing this information. However, when the mind fails to fully process information from an event, that information keeps returning in the form of thoughts until complete processing has taken place.

Forgive yourself first

For example, you may have been bitten by a dog at the age of five and have never fully processed this, the confrontation with a dog does not evoke a pleasant, pleasant experience for you, but the fear and pain you felt when you were bitten. Because of this, you could live in fear of dogs for the rest of your life. This can also happen if you’ve been in a relationship where you weren’t treated well, or your coworker gets that promotion at work you’ve been hoping for years.

As long as you don’t fully process these experiences, those experiences continue to run like a mill, flashing through your system over and over again and confronting you with the emotional consequences of the incident. A future experience in the same theme is then repeatedly approached from the unpleasant experience from the past. This can take years and often the incompletely processed thought is eventually placed in the subconscious or the “back” of your mind.

Your mind uses this as a defense mechanism. It preserves the experience to be able to warn you about dogs in the future, which can bite and hurt you again, just like in the previous incident. A great principle, after all, you don’t want to cut yourself twice with the same knife. This means that a line, a connection, remains between you and the incident. The disadvantage of this is that you take the unprocessed experience with you in a negative sense. Base future steps and decisions on a negative spiral.

Your mind uses this as a protection mechanism

Forgive yourself first

In the example where you missed out on a promotion, you might start to believe in beliefs like “I passed by the previous promotions, I’m sure that will happen again.” This arouses frustration, anger and a feeling of powerlessness. You’re whining about who’s to blame. You will blame others and yourself for what should have been done or said differently in the past so that you would have received that promotion.

With this focus and attitude, there is a good chance that the promotion will go to another one next time, making you believe even more strongly that it will “always” stay that way. An endless circle of self-fulfilling prophecies. Many think that forgiving has to do with approving what happened or the person who “wronged” you. The belief behind this is that when you forgive someone, you say, “It’s okay that this or that happened.” However, the “truth” is different. Lewis B. Smedes once said it beautifully:

“To forgive is to release a prisoner, and to discover that you were that prisoner.”

What does forgiveness mean?

Forgiving also does not mean forgetting the event. It means that you remove the negative emotional charge from the event. Similar to a wasp sting, you take the painful venom-filled sting out of the sting. Forgiveness is a message to YOURSELF saying, “I choose to cut the “umbilical cord” between me and the incident”. “I choose to no longer base the choices I will make in the future on the negative consequences of what happened in the past”.

You rid yourself of incompletely processed thoughts, emotions, and anything with which you no longer wish to associate yourself. You mainly forgive yourself for everything that you think you should have done differently in the situation. In fact, you forgive yourself for holding onto the stressful consequences of what happened.

Is trouble forgiving?

Forgive yourself first

Then ask yourself the following: does the past and the incident change because you remain angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed, and/or sad? Does that change the facts? That promotion went to that colleague on a date “X”, that is a fact that will remain, even if you brood about it for another 20 years, remain angry, and continue to relive the feeling of injustice. The past may be sour, but every detail at that moment remains what it was then, it cannot and will not be changed. What you can change is the way you deal with it today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and every day after that.

How do you get started?

Forgive others for the wrong you believe they have done to you. Forgive yourself for everything you feel you should have done differently to avoid this but didn’t. Explore how you can grow in a positive way and become wiser through this experience. What valuable quality and skill would you like to develop through this experience? What positive actions will you take more in the future to strengthen this growth? You may need help in this process. Give yourself this help, even if you find it difficult to ask for help. It can help you process an unpleasant experience faster and more effectively.



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