A couple of weeks ago, I posted Fighting Parkinson’s, and practicing forgiveness. After a discussion about forgiving others, I wrote, FORGIVE YOURSELF! IT IS NECESSARY!!! In a coaching call later that day, and in subsequent coaching calls, we have been exploring this concept further, and today I will present a more in-depth look at forgiving yourself.
The conversation began by exploring what exactly did I mean by “forgiving yourself.” I answered with a handful of questions:
Do you ever look at the past with guilt or regret over what you feel you should have done?
Do you ever look at the past and think “I wish I had handled that differently.”
When you look at the past, are your thoughts about things you did filled with “I should have,” “I would have,” “I could have?”
When you are doing things now, do you ever think, “this isn’t quite good enough?”
When you are doing things now, do you ever think, “I should have done that differently” or “I wish I had done that differently?”
The response was “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” And I responded by saying, “All of these are judgments about yourself; they are self-criticisms.”
“So, you are the one doing the judging, right?” “Yes.”
“And, who is your victim?” “Me.”
“If you are the victim of self-criticism, then who is your tormentor?” “Me.”
“So, if you are the judge, what does a judge do to a tormentor on behalf of the victim?” “The judge punishes the tormentor.”
“If you are the judge, and the tormentor, and the victim, can you see the vicious cycle you are in of tormenting yourself with self-criticism and then punishing yourself?” “Yes. It is like running around a hamster wheel and never being able to get off.”
As we were pausing for a moment and letting this concept sink in, the person said to me, “If we take this to the logical end, then I am the jailer who puts me in the jail cell as my punishment from me, the judge.”
To that, I smiled, and said, “Yes. However, if you are the jailer, then you hold the key to your own freedom. And that key is called forgiveness of yourself.”
FORGIVE YOURSELF AND BE FREE!!!
Here are the steps to your forgiveness-of-self “Get Out Of Jail Free” card (for our Monopoly game enthusiasts):
1. Stop judging and criticizing yourself.
2. Agree with yourself to not utter a negative word about yourself.
3. Agree with yourself to not think a negative thought about yourself.
4. Do not break these agreements, ever!
Accept that your best is good enough, and that life is a learning experience…experience by experience, you are learning something. Sometimes what you learn is that things did not turn out how you wanted them to turn out.
Instead of self-criticism for the result you did not like, how about saying, “Okay, that did not turn out how I wanted. I will do it differently next time.” And then move on to the next experience. You learn and you move on. No self-criticism.
Please forgive yourself. It will set you free.
You are worth it!!!
All my best,