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WriteOnFightOn Life Lessons,Self-Forgiveness It’s like Hand and Stone for the soul (or your monthly reminder to forgive yourself)

It’s like Hand and Stone for the soul (or your monthly reminder to forgive yourself)



It’s like Hand and Stone for the soul (or your monthly reminder to forgive yourself) 

If you’ve been reading lately you know I’ve dedicated 2020, a year that began with a vengeance, to self-forgiveness.
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Why?
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Because we need it.
Because in my research of young men, depression, and suicide has lead me to understand how forgiveness might just be the most important practice for healing, recovery, and emotional growth.
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I’ve learned that you become what you study.
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My day job requires me to study literature so naturally I’ve come to know Shakespeare and a bunch of other dead white guys.
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But right now, the tugs of life are telling me to study forgiveness.
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Maybe it’s the fact I’m turning 40 soon or that forgiveness is a practice my friends struggling with substance abuse have talked to me about or that depression is increasing among young people.
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But no matter our age, if we’re all trying to become more self-aware–which I think we all are (except for the woman I passed in the supermarket bread aisle Sunday morning wearing a “I’m a BITCH” t shirt)– than nothing propels self-awareness more than self-forgiveness.
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So here’s what I’m doing:
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On the 15th of every month in 2020 I’m dedicating time to reflect on a single area of hurt or a memory-burden I carry with me everyday (additional notes are posted below).
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This is a monthly opportunity to further discover myself.
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And to do this–I have to sit with truth. I have entertain feelings or experiences that have hurt and continue to hurt me. To entertain the inconvenient truths of my life that have prevented me from accepting my character, healing, and becoming a better version of myself.
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It’s like Hand and Stone for the soul. Except the purpose of this spa treatment is to be uncomfortable.
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Because we begin to heal, recover, and grow when we when consciously admit the truth to ourselves (… and now that I think about it… maybe the “I’m a BITCH” in the bread aisle has reached an apex of forgiveness I pine for.)
On January 15th I encourage you to reflect on one hurt or burden you carry. Something you should have made peace with or put down long ago.
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And with this burden in mind, ask yourself:
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How did this burden make me more resilient?
How did this burden make me more appreciative?
How can I use the lessons I learned from carrying the burden to help other people?
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 I’m reflecting on my health this month.
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See, before I started this blog, I was an athlete. I defined myself to the physical things my body could do. Things I took for granted. But in 2013, I got sick, and I was suddenly a former athlete with a broken brain and a broken body.
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And this truth has been a hard one for me.
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Not playing sports anymore is one thing but playing sports with my children has brought sadness and shame.
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I want to play basketball with my children. I want to ride bikes with them. Challenge them to a race. Teach them to ice skate.
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But I can’t. Plain. Simple.
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Now–this has taken a long time to realize— but I’m privileged to watch them discover the wonders of sports and their physical body.  Wonders, that if I was too busy playing with them, I’d most definitely miss.
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Over the past 7 years I learned to rewrite the definition of myself. I realized being an athlete was just a chapter in a book I’m still writing.
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And so I want you to hear me say:
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I forgive myself for getting sick.
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I forgive myself for the sadness and shame I have inflicted upon myself.
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I am grateful that my sickness has improved my self-awareness and broadened my perspective.
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I’m proud to tell you that my sickness is an important part of who I am and like the dead white poet e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.”
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Be well,
Jay
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If you’re interest, here my notes for The Self-Forgiveness Challenge. But this is not a one-size-heals-all system. Forgiveness is not an exact science. Please adopt and modify to best fit your needs.
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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.  

Next…

Recall or write down the details of the event.

Next…

Recall or write down negative emotions the event caused you to feel.

Next…

Realize or write down a positive positive attitudes/realizations the event has gifted you.

Next…

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.


Need some encouragement? Some reassurance? Need to stay positive? This hardworking, suburban soccer dad with fancy hair can help. Subscribe and, like a pizza, get my posts delivered to your door ( your email inbox).



 

 

 

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