How To...Forgive Yourself

How To…Forgive Yourself 

 

In an previous #ThoughtfulThursday we discussed How To…Forgive, today I want to talk about forgiving ourselves because I don’t think we do so enough. How many times have you held on to regret, shame, or hurt from something that you’ve done or has happened to you over 10+ years? I know I have my list of things that I wished I shouldn’t have, or I should’ve known better than to, or my favorite – how could this have happened to me? If you’ve had any of those moments it’s absolutely time for you to let it go and forgive yourself. 

Your inability to let it go and forgive yourself is creating baggage for yourself and it’s probably contributing to your negative self-talk. I know for me I have a lot of negative self-talk when it comes to dating and it’s largely stemmed from my poor choices in past relationships, which if I dig a bit deeper is stemmed from my low self-esteem, and if I go a little bit deeper it’s a symptom of not feeling worth, and if I go a little bit deeper it’s a reflection of my daddy issues. Being honest with ourselves about our negative self-talk and taking the time to dig deep enough to find the root cause allows us to heal instead of simply move past it. 

 

1.     Love requires forgiveness

There is no form of love that doesn’t require forgiveness whether it’s parental, familial, friendly, or romantic. Yet somehow we forget that self-love requires forgiveness as well. Or maybe we think there’s nothing to apologize for to ourselves because how can I possibly offend myself? Well there are times when we disappoint ourselves, make stupid decisions that we knew better than, or we simply missed the mark. And there’s no amount of self-inflicted guilt than that of the religious nature, we can harp of that for decades to come w/out a second thought. Especially when you’re dealing with the “major” religious sins like divorce, homosexuality, or children out of wedlock. **I say major in quotes because there isn’t a sin scale in the bible…religious people have created a sense of which sins are worse simply to make themselves feel better…but that’s another rant for a different day!**

So if every type of love you participate in requires forgiveness, how is loving yourself supposed to be any different? It’s not! I’m not saying that you should behave recklessly and just walk away as if it’s all good…we should always be working towards self-improvement. But forgiveness means letting go of the hurt, shame, and disappointment and moving in a better direction. If you are making strides in this self-love journey, it’s going to require a good amount of forgiveness along the way. 

 

2.     Let that shit go!

Excuse my French but ya’ll I’m tired of us hurting! We as a black community have got to stop holding on to hurt and pain that we’re passing along to our children and grandchildren without even noticing. It’s time to break the generational cycle and begin to create generational blessings. When I think about the concept of generational blessings that means wealth and access, but it also means peace and a healthy way of living. We get so focused on wanting to pass down a financial legacy that we forget to address the baggage we’re passing down as well. Think about the baggage you carry and how it reflects to those in your family. Looks pretty similar doesn’t it? 

You may not be able to change a thing for the generations that came before you (who knows maybe you will!) but at a minimum you can change the trajectory for the generations come behind you. They don’t even have to be your child, but if you are in that child’s “village” you are making an impact in their lives. The most formative years for our inner voice is between the ages of 5-13…and everything that is said to your during these times is going to become your inner voice later on. I’m very conscious of this with my little sister but also as a cheer coach. I know that I’m apart of their “village” and what I say to them and how I make them feel will impact how they speak to themselves down the road. I am a firm believer in discipline but I also understand I have to speak with patience and love as well, in order to create a healthy balance. 

 

3.     Learn the lesson and move on

As with any test we face in life, if you don’t learn the lesson you will have to repeat the test until you do. Take my advice and just learn the lesson as quickly as you possibly can. Until you learn the lesson you’ll end up dating the same type of person, end up in the same financial crisis, and ending the same friendships over and over again. The quicker you commit to learning the lesson the quicker you’ll be able to move on from there and stop retaking the test. When I’m dealing with something hurtful or disappointing I always try to take a moment to pause and reflect on what that moment is trying to teach me. 

It’s not always easy to stop in the middle of hurt and reflect on lessons to be learned, but I do hope that at some point you begin to reflect on not only what can be learned but how can this hurt be avoided moving forward. For me this was made clear when I left a very toxic relationship and my very next relationship was practically the exact same person. In that moment I learned that you are who you attract and that there was a very broken part of me that was attracting very broken men into my life. After leaving that relationship (a lot quicker than the 1stversion) I decided to take a break from dating until I could understand what was broken about me and learn how to fix it. 

 

4.     Dig as deep as necessary

Just as I broke down the example in the intro, sometimes we have to look at our issues and dig deep until we get to the root cause in order to find true forgiveness. Start with the issue and keep asking “Why” and you’ll eventually get there, but aim to ask “Why” at least 5 times. Here’s an example: 

Statement: I suck with money 

Why: I never have enough money to cover the bills and end up w/ late or NSF fees

Why: I don’t make plans for my money 100% 

Why: I hate feeling constraints on my spending, I want to be able to get or do whatever I want 

Why: Growing up I always felt like I couldn’t do certain things because of the money

Why: Being raised by a single mother of 2, money was simply tight and she was trying to teach responsible spending habits. 

 

Here’s another example from a client I work with: 

Statement: I never have enough money and I live paycheck to paycheck

Why: I buy my kids clothes and shoes every check and there’s nothing left for me 

Why: I feel like they should have everything I couldn’t have growing up and not want for anything. 

Why: My parents were on drugs and they would take money from me, I just don’t want my kids to hurt like I did. 

Why (Do they need clothes every 2 weeks): I guess they don’t I just want them to be happy 

Why (Do you think they need clothes every 2 weeks to be happy): They don’t, they’re just happy when I’m home and get to spend time with them. 

 

So as you unpack some of that baggage, just keep asking yourself why and when you get to that root cause, you’ll be able to unlock your freedom and healing. 

 

5.     Don’t do this “healing” thing alone

Far too many times we try to deal with our issues alone or don’t want those around us to know that we’re struggling. Especially for Black Women we often fall into the “Superwoman Complex” and I’m here to let ya’ll know it’s just not healthy. We are built to be social creatures and we do better when we’re able to be honest about who we are and what we’re struggling with. That’s why a good vent session feels so good, you’re taking off the mask you wear for the world on a daily basis. You may not realize but we all “put on a good front” when on the inside we may be struggling and doing that on a long term basis is just unhealthy. 

Sometimes we all need a listening ear because so much of our pain is rooted in feeling unheard about our struggles or hurt. Think about something you’ve been dealing with and imagine how you’d feel if someone just heard what you said the first time. Would the hurt be as strong? Or has the receiving party’s dismissal or minimization contributed to the hurt? And each time you tried to tell them led to more hurt am I right? That’s why there is such a benefit to going to therapy, it is an unbiased (trained) individual who will listen and help you process all of the things you’ve been holding onto. 

Even if you don’t think you’re “that crazy” I recommend trying therapy even just once because I believe it will help you deal with the every day issues we all deal with. I have dealt with depression and suicide but even when I’m in a good place I look forward to therapy sessions to unpack some old baggage. In those session I have learned how the things that happen that appear to be small or unrelated always have a deeper root…I just have to keep digging and my therapist helps by grabbing a shovel.