We often talk about how much better we are at forgiving another yet we cannot forgive ourselves. We regret decisions that seemed to put our family through the ringer, screwed up a relationship that in hindsight was a blessing to us, and we have each made our share of mistakes.
For a long time I’d beat myself up for investing in real estate, relying on “gurus” who were suppose to teach us how to make money in the market, and for turning over responsibility to manage our investments to a relative and later a management company.
This list could go on and on. I cannot go back and change my past… but I can learn from it and I have. The consequences of my actions are my responsibility. It was however by experiencing these darkest hours that I learned a valuable lesson that was not part of my formal education. And in the end the lessons make me the person that I am today… and that is progress!
“I am not proud of all the things I have done in my past; but I am not ashamed of them either. Every choice I have made in my life (whether good or not so good), has brought me to this very place.” – Michael Merritt
If you are struggling and can’t seem to forgive yourself try one of these Simple Steps to move forward in your life:
- Clear the Air. If what you have done has hurt or alienated someone, apologize. Whether you write a letter, e-mail, call or meet them face to face… be the bigger person. Make the effort to acknowledge that your actions hurt them and that it was not your intent to do so. Do not however make excuses or try to justify your actions. Keep it simple. Once you apologize it is up to them to accept it or not. You however have taken the first step and you can move forward. A couple of notes about this Simple Step… If the other person chooses not to forgive you then that is their choice. You cannot demand or force them to forgive you. You can only apologize. Realize that depending on what the situation was they could choose to move forward without you in their life. While you may not like that each person has to do what is best for them.
- Take Personal Responsibility for Your Actions. Regardless of whether another person is involved or not, recognize and accept, your culpability. When you admit to yourself, and perhaps others, your role then you control your next steps. If you choose to blame others then you believe that have you have no control of your life… that you are a victim. Are you? Probably not… or you wouldn’t be looking to forgive yourself.
- Step Back. We are often so deep into our regrets and the emotions of the situation that we lose our objectivity. If it was your best friend that had done what you regret what would you say to her? Is she over reacting, making a mountain out of a molehill, can’t let it go? Coach yourself as if you are your own best friend. Take her/your advice to heart.
- Look for the Lesson. In every one of life’s challenges there is a lesson to learn. It is not until you realize what the lesson is that you can move forward. Until you figure it out you may repeat the same mistake. Try this. Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed and ask yourself what you would do differently if you could go back in time. Acknowledge that you cannot change your history however you now know more than you did when you made your original decision. Now, give thanks for the lesson. Once you realize that you are wiser forgiveness follows.
It’s up to you to choose to forgive yourself and move forward in life… or not. Forgiveness releases you to live the life of your dreams. Without it you remain stuck in the past, in your misery…and that feels bad. Choose forgiveness because in doing so you are choosing to be happy and that feels great!