Forgiveness is a big topic, with entire books devoted to the topic. Surely, we all know the value in forgiving. But, recently I was pondering forgiveness in terms of self-worth. No matter how many kind thoughts we think about ourselves or how much we stop comparing ourselves to others or how many compliments we accept, etc. (see the past three blogs), if, in the back of our minds, we are continually thinking we should have done better, we shouldn’t have done this or that, we shouldn’t have treated him/her that way, etc., then true self-worth doesn’t stand a chance. All of the self-worth work we are doing is being cancelled out by our overriding belief that we messed up or should have done better and it’s not okay. How can we ever feel worthy if, somewhere in our minds, there is the thought that we should have been, could have been or wished we were other than we were? This is exactly what not forgiving ourselves means.
For self-worth to take hold, we have to, sort of, wipe our slates clean from time to time by forgiving ourselves. We forgive ourselves for not being our best, for not doing the right thing, for making mistakes, for hurting others, for not being perfect. Forgiving ourselves is cutting ourselves a break for not being flawless. Forgiving ourselves is admitting we have faults and being okay with it. Remember, the ego wants and needs to be perfect in order to validate its self worth (see Ego Post). To the ego, perfection equates with worth; and imperfection means unworthiness. When we forgive ourselves we stand up to the ego and say, it’s okay that we aren’t perfect; we’re worthy despite our imperfections.
When we don’t forgive ourselves, we deny ourselves love and worth. Living without love and worth is likely going to make us do more things we will later need to forgive ourselves for. And so the shame, guilt and lack of self-worth continue and grow. Not forgiving ourselves closes the door to love. When we forgive ourselves, we make room for love and worthiness.
Let’s take some time to wrap our heads around what forgiving ourselves means. Let’s be aware of how the ego’s need for external validation is involved when we are unwilling to forgive ourselves.
We’ll explore forgiving others and how to forgive in the next posts.