The hardest person to forgive might just be ourselves.
The key to self-forgiveness is remembering you are forgiving the younger version of yourself instead of the present-day you. It is the seedling that became you that you are forgiving. Having this awareness that the offense you committed was done by a less wise, mature, and evolved version of yourself can help neutralize any feelings of guilt and self-aversion.
Below is an eight-step self-forgiveness practice that can help you eradicate guilt and pain from past mistakes and in time lead you back to grace with a deeper understanding of yourself.
Write down the offense you are forgiving yourself for. Think back on your life; what comes to mind? If the situation you immediately think of seems too difficult to forgive, scale back and pick something easier. How old were you when you made this mistake?
Visualize the place that symbolizes this incident. Where and when did this incident occur? How old were you? Describe the scene and location you see in your mind. It will help you get in touch with this time period in your life and what you experienced so you can have one final taste of it before letting it go.
See that younger version of yourself who made this mistake, and say aloud or in your mind what you did. Name the person or people you hurt, how it made them feel, and how you let yourself down. What exactly occurred in this incident that you want to forgive? Be explicit and give as much detail as possible.
As you declare the mistake you made, identify and describe your feelings. Allow yourself to feel the realness of your guilt and pain. Briefly relive the experience. Let it all out if you need to scream or yell at yourself. Do this only for a few minutes and then stop. You don’t want to linger too long in this vibration.
What was the lesson from this incident? What was life trying to teach you through this experience? Is there something you are now grateful for that came out of this experience? The goal here is to identify a positive and valuable lesson. Write down all your insights and clearly identify the wisdom you gained and how you have grown.
What were you going through at this time in your life? Consider what you learned or experienced to cause you to make this mistake and behave this way. Did someone else hurt you in the same way?
Try to examine your state of mind at the time and how it could have led you to make this mistake. List the possible factors that caused you to act the way you did. How did you feel in the moment when you made this mistake? Desperate? Afraid? Unsafe? Keep your younger self in mind and the level of consciousness and maturity you were operating at. Is it possible you were behaving in a way that you believed was serving you in some way at this time?
This is not about making excuses or absolving yourself of responsibility. Instead, the goal is to give yourself grace and to develop a sense of compassion for your younger self by trying to see what occurred through the eyes of this less mature version of yourself.
Visualize staring at your younger self, looking him or her straight in the eyes and saying: “I forgive you. I love you,” and then embracing them. Hug them and tell them that they are safe.
In order to truly forgive, a genuine expression of love is necessary. One’s heart cannot be cold and standoffish.
Reflect on this. How does this sit with you? How does it feel? Were you able to look yourself in the eye and forgive yourself? Is it something you see as a possibility? Write down your insights.
Connect with your intuition by asking that wiser part of yourself for guidance. What messages are you receiving about this situation? What is this inner knowing telling you? Ask for guidance. Inquire if you have genuinely forgiven yourself. See what arises. If the answer is no, declare your intention to your higher self to eventually provide you with the grace to forgive yourself, then let it go and repeat the process in a few days.
Now, when you are done, do something kind for yourself.
For starters, find the nearest mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say: “I love you.” Then go grab your journal and write down whatever comes to mind. Maybe play with your dog. Hug your child. Eat a tasty meal. Go for a run. Listen to your favorite tunes. Maybe treat yourself and buy yourself something nice.
Whatever you do, just do something that reminds you how good it feels to be alive, and know forgiveness is a lifelong process and in time it gets easier.
Download my FREE Forgiveness Workbook that will guide you through a simple exercise to begin clearing yourself of any and all negativity, anger, and resentment you might be holding onto.
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