“I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself, “that’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” C. JoyBell C.
Most of us realize that the person we need to forgive the most in order to live our lives completely happy is ourselves.
Yet, we don’t really understand that the things we most need to forgive ourselves for are not so much our past actions – but who we are in the world. Sure, maybe we were mean to someone in our past or feel guilty about the way we treated a friend or partner, but deep down the thing that holds us back is the grudge we carry against ourselves for not being who we think we should be.
There is a saying that when we point our finger in blame at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves.
And if you think about it, even when we blame others for the condition of our lives, deep down we are also blaming ourselves. Maybe we blame ourselves for not being loving, worthy or loveable. Or perhaps we blame ourselves for being mean, too much like our mothers or not being enough like our sibling. It might even be that we blame ourselves for not meeting the other person’s expectations of us – or even our own. And while we may be aware of our own self-loathing on some level, we are not likely aware that these are the things we most need to forgive ourselves for in order to live the life we most want.
I recently was reminded of this when I found myself over-the-top angry with someone in my life. I was aware that the anger was eating me up, but couldn't let go of the blame and resentment I had toward them. I began thinking about forgiveness and ultimately realized that if I wanted to be free of my anger, I had to forgive them. But, at the same time, I recognized that I wouldn’t be complete until I too decided to forgive myself - the reality was that even though I was mad at this individual for not fulfilling their promise to me –underneath it, I was really mad at myself for not being able to do the task on my own. I felt inadequate and helpless. I was beating myself up underneath it all – and that was just making me feel worse. It was in that moment that I recognized that to experience complete forgiveness, I had to work on forgiving myself for my own perceived shortcomings. Indeed, if I expected to find compassion for the person I was upset with, it would have to begin with me having compassion for myself.
After all, how can we expect to feel fully happy and benefit from forgiving another if we continue to hold grudges against who we are?
Once we are able to accept ourselves, our flaws, our shortcomings and release ourselves from the bonds of our negative recriminations, we can truly begin to see the humanity and gifts others bring into our life. Forgiveness is ultimately the process of letting go of anything that might stand in the way of living the life we most want to create. If we are always holding onto negative grudges – especially against ourselves – how can we expect to step boldly into a future filled with joy and peace. How can we expect to feel loved even if we don’t love and forgive ourselves? Once we completely forgive ourselves for who we are, we find that we can finally step into our true, authentic selves.