Forgiveness. It is a powerful concept. It becomes an even more challenging endeavor when it comes to forgiving ourselves. Sometimes the burden of remembering your past behaviours or decisions can result in the creation of shame and guilt. Potentially, this release of guilt, shame and even self-hatred can be achieved through personal reflection and through the deliberate act of intentionally healing your hurt and pain. It’s doubtful that it will just go away on its own over time. Instead, it might grow and fester like a wound that hasn’t healed properly. However, healing requires patience and sensitivity. It’s not a process you can rush through and expect an immediate result. Although a personal choice, this might be a process that is best supported through a trusted counselor, friend or through therapy groups or friendship circles.
Certainly there are steps you can take right away and the first is being aware of the areas that you would like to focus your energy and forgiveness on. Creating a list of areas and triggers that make you feel uncomfortable will help you become more aware of your areas of concern around forgiveness. Being open, gentle and accepting of these areas about yourself is key as well. If these areas you want to forgive yourself for have involved actions that have been harmful to yourself or others, you can take steps to address these issues in order to prevent them from recurring. You might want to acknowledge that the investment of time and effort will be worth it in the long run as you aim to have a lighter, more joyful existence. You can consider that those people around you will eventually benefit in this positive change as well. Even imagining what it would feel like to be free from guilt or anger would be a worthwhile exercise. How would you benefit in experiencing a greater sense of freeness and aliveness aside from the guilt or shame? What would you imagine yourself to look like? Feel like? Act like? As you envision this scenario, it opens your mind up to the possibility of future healing and the re-defining and restructuring of your life and purpose. You can start imagining how you might make amends through letter-writing, phone calls or journaling – all the while considering the potential impact of your current and future actions on yourself and others.
January has historically been the time of renewal, planning and a time for resolutions. If we believe that people have the capacity to change, we might take time now to choose a couple of ways to lighten our spirit and to effect positive change in the lives of ourselves and those around us. Forgiveness in some capacity might be one option. All change - however bold and life-altering - begins with just one little thought.
Happy New Year!
“Your anger, jealousy, and other painful experiences are your avenues to spiritual growth.” Gary Zukav