Does everyone deserve forgiveness?
Forgiveness has always seemed a little airy fairy to me. A notion which in theory is much easier than practice.
Forgiveness isn’t about changing the person who has wronged you, it’s about changing the impact the hurt has on you. It’s about taking control and responsibility for your life and the way you choose to live it.
There are many people who feel you should try to forgive all wrongs against you in order to live a full and happy life. I admire these people, but also fear they may find themselves in future situations where they are vulnerable to further pain and hurt.
I don’t believe that everyone deserves your forgiveness. There are people out there who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and pain they have caused. They continue living their lives as though they have done nothing wrong and they need not make amends. These people do not deserve your forgiveness but most importantly they do not deserve any of your time or thoughts. In such situations where you cannot permit forgiveness to your perpetrator, turn the forgiveness inwards. We often think that we need to forgive the other person in order to move forwards; this may be the case for some individuals but sometimes self-forgiveness is what we truly need in order to move on.
When I say self-forgiveness I am not implying that you are at fault for what happened to you or what you have been through. In situations where for example you have been victimised at the hands of another, there should be no blame at your feet. But there are always things you can forgive yourself for. Perhaps you want to forgive yourself for holding too tightly to the anger and pain resulting from what has been done to you. Maybe you wish to forgive yourself for finding yourself in a vulnerable situation where you were victimised. Whatever the situation, you are in control. Even in instances of hopelessness where you feel all is out of your control, there is always some aspect you can change; don’t forget this. You are more in control than you think.
Self-forgiveness allows you to distinguish feelings of guilt and shame, irrespective of whether they are justified or not. The truth is that you can’t fully forgive someone if you are not able to forgive yourself first. The same with kindness and love, you can’t fully give these to others until you first start with yourself.
That’s the key here and with all healing…start inwards and work your way outwards. The rest will fall into place. When you forgive yourself you essentially let that part of yourself go that keeps you trapped in a negative cycle. A cycle which has been preventing you from moving forward. Self-forgiveness takes time and practice, especially if you have been trapped in a negative way of thinking and view yourself poorly.
Being kind to yourself may feel completely alien to begin with. That’s okay. Keep with it, think about what happened, how you feel about it and what initial thoughts and emotions present themselves. Acknowledge here but do not judge yourself…if you find yourself slipping into old habits of berating yourself then acknowledge that too and let it pass.
Try not to get frustrated and throw the towel in. The more you do this exercise, the easier it will become and the experience will sit more comfortably with you. In time you can accept it’s in the past and no longer serves you to keep making yourself feel bad. In time you can let go or at the very least be able to recall the experience without feeling those overwhelming negative feelings and emotions. Surely reaching that place is better than where you currently find yourself?
Thinking about these things may be difficult so why not write about it instead? Keep doing it and in time your entries will be less judgemental, more rational and objective. Reading these entries back will evidence how far you have come. Ensure you celebrate these victories.
The key to healing is to look inwards and want to improve…more importantly you need to be willing to put the work into change. Nothing good ever came easy but this is something that is worth the work. Remember to cut yourself some slack, practice self-care and start exploring the prospect of self-forgiveness.