What is the difference between “I like you” [and] “I love you”? This question was beautifully answered by Buddha. Buddha’s answer was so simple. When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.
It’s true, right?
We are a constant work in progress, yet rather than seeing that truth for what it is, we choose to be our very own worst critic. When we are done wrong by others, we are so quick to justify a reason to forgive them for their imperfections, yet when we stand in front of the mirror, we nitpick at our own worth until we see self-forgiveness as an unachievable ideology. Self-forgiveness is essential to self-healing.
Why is it we can reassure another being of his or her value, but not our own?
I agree self-awareness is imperative, but what about self-forgiveness? What about accepting our truth, instilling contentment in our personal history, and shifting our focus to manifesting a better future for ourselves?
In my life, I have found the gift of forgiveness easy to give and in hindsight, I find it was likely due to the unsureness of the other person’s state of being and consciousness. In other words, I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t forgive them.
Why is that?
I feared the irrational decisions that I would cause to be made if I didn’t allow myself to forgive.
Simply put, I feared they would take their own life.
As you have likely noticed, the use of metaphors for me is second nature; however, I do not want to contort what I meant by my fear in those moments. I didn’t want to be the reason a person chose to miss out on tomorrow and for a while, I wondered why.
Why did I think every one around me was suicidal? Why did I feel like my words held that much weight when it came to another person’s choice to live or die? Simply put, because they do and because I was.
See I was more focused on preventing the loss of those around me, that I was willing to lose myself in the process. I began to question what would change about the world around me if I wasn’t a mortal part of it anymore, because I wasn’t sure of the identity I was bringing through my own existence. I didn’t know what the world would look like without me, because I didn’t feel like many knew I was a part of it to begin with.
It doesn’t get much more honest than that. At that point I had a decision to make: either I was going to continue to give to others, instead of myself, or I was going to choose to give to others, in addition to myself. For a while I chose to continue to give so I did. I poured out my emotions, my time, my energy, my attention, my vulnerability. I poured and poured and poured until I had nothing left to give to myself.
The most monumental moment of forgiveness happened after I lost my baby, Remy. It is a part of human nature to want to put reason behind the most unexplainable moments in our lives — the ones that cut us the deepest (or in my case, the ones that caused me to cut the deepest. You can’t explain a silent miscarriage. You can’t identify a prevention method to guarantee it won’t happen again. You can’t research how to redirect your life after you had planned for it to go a certain way.
I blamed myself.
I apologized. I cried. I begged. I cut. I apologized. I cried. I begged. I cut. For 6 months straight, the same vicious cycle continued and I woke up encapsulated in the arms of depression every single morning when I opened my eyes. The moment I awoke, I didn’t want to be anymore. I asked 4 different doctors why. I thought maybe if I could uncover a reason, I could be mad at something other than myself. I didn’t want to believe in the possibility that karma worked this way. I had one doctor tell me he knew the cause, while another said the opposite, and a third said there was no way of knowing if either were right so I allowed my mind to go into a tailspin of mental destruction. I needed to know it was no one’s fault., because it wasn’t.
I got tired of always being tired. Something had to change.
I wrote on my bathroom mirror, “I forgive you.” Every morning when I woke up and walked in my bathroom, I was immediately greeted with forgiveness for not loving myself like I should have the day before; for not acing the test I didn’t study as hard for; for skipping a few things on my to-do list — I forgave myself.
Had we of received any of the listed apologies from others, we would have forgiven without hesitation so we have to begin doing the same thing for ourselves. It goes back to the mention of only having you at the end of the day and being aware of who you are and the company you bring to yourself, is a vital part of self-forgiveness.
It was time I gave myself some attention.
I didn’t want to fall so far into a hole that I had no way of navigating my way out and I didn’t want to admit to other people that I could have used a hand, but in both aspects, I learned how to do so on my own. When we make a mistake, it is so important we allow for forgiveness. This world puts so much pressure on us already that anything additional, just becomes too heavy and although it is okay to ask for help, it is important we know how to carry ourselves to the finish line.
Forgiveness is a choice, but it is not an option.
What do I mean by that? Well what would it mean if every apology you ever gave was followed by “it’s not okay” or “I don’t forgive you” — that’s a lot of pressure, right? Give yourself what you deserve as freely as you give it to others, whatever that may be.
When we refuse self-forgiveness, we are hurting ourselves in the most detrimental ways.
- You are reliving what you have done and that will only create mental chaos.
- It is going to impact your decisions.
- You eventually begin to verbally abuse yourself.
- You stop trying to make things better, because you do not feel you deserve better.
What you do when these things occur is going to determine whether or not you will own your decisions and mistakes, or you will be owned by them. Look at a situation objectively and realize just how big of a deal it actually was <or wasn’t>.
Whatever you consider to be a mistake at the end of the day, let go of before you tuck yourself in at night.
If we cannot change the past, then focus on the future. Forgive yourself for not being the person you wanted to be yesterday and do so by working to become that person today. You don’t have to love all of yourself, but at least find one thing to start with.
Forgiveness is not about giving a person something they deserve, it is about releasing the toxic emotions enveloped within the situation, and allowing yourself the peace you deserve.
If you truly want to feel enlightened, forgive yourself. Remove the weight from your shoulders with your own strength. Self-forgiveness is about putting an end to the self-punishment you have allowed for in not fulfilling the first. There is no way to dictate the path you take going forward, if you continue to distract yourself with the things already behind you.
Don’t just say it: integrate it into your life, believe it, and do not make a habit of denying yourself the gift of it.
I forgave my mind for arguing all of the things I know that I am and for echoing the words others used to push me towards detriment. I forgave my hands for my self-mutilation. I forgave my eyes for refusing to see the beauty I had to offer until it was almost too late. I forgave my body for failing me when my child needed me most. I forgave my tongue for the words I said to myself when I didn’t feel like I mattered. You deserve the epiphany that follows the forgiveness of one’s self.