This is part 4 of a 4 part series on forgiveness. Part 4 in this series discusses forgiving yourself and finding peace with your past. The parts in this series are as follows:
- Why Should We Forgive?
- Building Deep, Meaningful Relationships Through Forgiveness
- Overcoming Trauma Through Forgiveness
- Forgive Yourself and Find True Inspiration
It is often the case that when we focus on mending relationships, we think about friends, family and significant others. The last person we think about is ourselves. And, most often, the person we judge most harshly is ourselves. We identify ourselves with the mistakes we’ve made, and rank our self-worth with our actions.
Shame Opposes Inspiration
One of the main components of self-forgiveness is letting go of shame. Shame is what happens to us when we identify with guilt. When we feel guilty, we believe we have done something wrong and feel bad about it. When we experience shame, we believe that what we have done wrong defines who we are.
Shame drains motivation to do positive things for ourselves or to make positive changes in our lives, because we don’t believe that we deserve it. It sabotages our efforts to maintain meaningful, healthy relationships. It is the epitome of a self-perpetuating, negative perspective because the shameful perspective causes us to do things that make us feel more shameful, such as sabotaging potentially promising relationships.
Shame is one of the single biggest obstacles to inspiration, because inspiration leads us to an understanding of the beauty, wonder and power of our own spirit. When inspired, we recognize our own magnificence as a creation of and from God. This is the opposite of shame which convinces us that we are worthless.
Our self worth affects the way we treat others. It is virtually impossible to condemn ourselves and treat others with genuine, sincere kindness.
6 Ways to Forgive Yourself and Eliminate Shame
- Recognize that you are a creation of a divine power that produces only magnificence. To deny your magnificence is to deny the magnificence of God’s creation.
- Pray for forgiveness and the power to forgive yourself.
- Recognize that actions you have committed in the past have no influence on who you are this moment in the eyes of God. Your human personality, your wisdom and the decisions you make in life change over time. Think about the person you were 7 years ago compared to the person you are today. Would you have read this blog 7 years ago? (I probably would have thought it was cheesy.) Did you treat your friends the way to treat them today?
- Let go of the opinions of others. There are over 6 billion people in the world, and over 6 billion potential opinions. Inevitably, you will find someone who holds your actions against you. You will also find someone who loves and adores you regardless of your shortcomings and mistakes.
- Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, everyone makes poor choices from time to time and everyone has hurt someone else due to ignorance, anger, selfishness or poor judgment. You are no exception. You’ve done it before, you will probably do it again. The best you can do is learn from your mistakes and change your current behavior.
- Focus on what you can offer the world and how you can serve and share love with others. Move forward bringing no expectations based on your past experience. The world changes, we change as humans, and predicting your behavior tomorrow based on yesterday is as ridiculous as predicting tomorrows weather based on yesterday’s (unless you live in San Diego, but not so much here in Wisconsin).
Each day is a gift from God and a new opportunity for you to offer your gift to God in how you live it. Leave behind the filth of the past and offer an uncontaminated gift.