Step 1- Set a specific day
Schedule a specific day to forgive yourself. I’m going to take the lead here and declare the 15th of every month will be self-forgiveness day. For those who receive my posts via email, I will send you a reminder on the 15th of each month that your self-forgiveness is due. It will be like paying your mortgage but better.
And since repetition is a part of forgiveness, let’s do it once a month and make self-forgiveness a healthy habit in 2020.
Step 2- Write down 12 things that need to be forgiven
Today, write down 12 things you need to forgive yourself for. Writing down our hurts give them a real, tangible representation. They are not just vapor floating in our heart and mind.
I suggest storing the list on your phone for both permanence and easy access.
Also, be specific about a particular action or thought or feeling that needs forgiveness. If you said, “I want to forgive myself for a bunch of stuff I did in my 20’s”, it’s too abstract, too unclear. Forgiveness only works when it’s concrete. I also suggest writing down an estimated date, location, and a summary of your actions.
Also, let’s be honest, some hurts won’t be forgiven with one day of absolution, so there might be a specific hurt that you may need multiple months of attention. For example, my illness causes deep personal shame that I need to deal with. I’m dedicating 3 months (January, July, December) for forgiving my shame.
Step 3- Take time for self-examination
On the 15th of the month, find some interrupted time to think deeply about the specific hurt that needs forgiveness.
Pray, meditate, have a cup of tea and reflect on one specific hurt that needs forgiving.
Begin your reflection with:
I forgive you for__________. I will not seek revenge or revert to self-pity for my past hurts. I will accept myself as imperfect. Yet despite my imperfections, I realize I am valuable, capable of great things, and deserving of happiness.
Recall or write down the details of the event.
Recall or write down negative emotions the event caused you to feel.
Realize or write down a positive positive attitudes/realizations the event has gifted you.
Reframe your hurt. Though you can’t rewind time, you can use your hurt has a means of broadening your perspective and deepening your gratitude. Think or write down how the hurt presented you unique lessons and opportunities that you might use to help other people deal with their own hurt.
Step 4- Honor the private act of self-forgiveness
Keep it to yourself. Self-forgiveness is a deeply private exercise. Do not gloat. Do not post on Facebook. Do not not look for likes or outside validation. Forgiveness requires humility. Some people will not get what you’re doing. That’s okay. This is just for you.
Step 5- Do something nice for someone else
On the 15th of every month (our self-forgiveness day) do something nice for someone else. This can be offering a compliment to someone, write a thank-you note, buy a stranger coffee, give a homeless person a meal, donate to a local charity, etc. The point is–doing something nice for someone else is both healthy for us and others. Celebrate your improvement by taking action and improving someone else’s life.
You can make the world a better place for your family, friends, and anyone you interact with if you practice self-forgiveness.
This is important--forgiving yourself can be tricky business. Forgiveness is not a quick fix and there is no one-size-fits all solution.
If you forgive yourself for cheating on the taxes your forgiveness doesn’t exonerate you from punishment. And forgiving yourself doesn’t make it okay. This do-it-yourself absolution can be reckless. The point is–if we want to positively improve and grow we have to make peace with our past. We must forgive our past actions in order to accept who we are now.
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