The Amazing Power of Self-Forgiveness

Robert Terson

There’s plenty of content out there about the power of forgiveness; you’ve been told more times than you can count how exhilarating and liberating it is to forgive those whom you’re angry with. How it allows you to get off the hook, never mind about the other guy. It’s exceedingly true; although sometimes, when someone whom you loved and had great faith in has betrayed you in the worst way, it might be easier to swim the English Channel with one hand tied behind your back than proffer forgiveness. Good luck with those kinds of challenges.

What I want to talk to you about is quite different; although no less a challenge. In fact, for many of you, it’s an even greater challenge. I’m talking about self-forgiveness—cutting yourself some slack for the mistakes you make, especially the real doozies which gnaw away at your gut, keep you up at night berating yourself until you cry yourself to sleep’s peaceful relief. For too many the only relief from the agonies of life’s mistakes come in addictions—food, alcohol, drugs; sometimes they even prove fatal. Even on the lighter end of the spectrum, an inability to forgive one’s mistakes will lead you to giving up too soon, keep you from reaching the plateau of success you dream about.

Like so many of you, I always was hardest on myself; unforgiving of myself to the point of self-hatred. In my younger years I suffered from the evils of perfectionism, and I’d be willing to wager a ton of money that many of you suffer from it too. When the standard for yourself is nothing less than perfect, you set yourself up for self-hatred, because…if you’re human (you are human, aren’t you?), it’s an impossible standard. When you suffer from perfectionism, there can be no forgiveness in you for yourself—for all those “stupid,” “idiotic,” “crushing” blunders you make. Damn, how could you have done something so crazy? you wonder. You want to jump off a cliff, you’re so angry with yourself. You want to run away and hide from the world. There’s just no way you can keep at this; surrender looks so enticing, so quiet and peaceful. Perhaps you can find a bear cave and hibernate for a year or two.

There is no substitute for experience and I soon learned that the only way out of this self-imposed perfectionistic trap is to lighten up and give yourself the magnificent gift of self-forgiveness. It really is a simple thing to do. You just, as Nike says, do it! You hop off the perfectionism merry-go-round. You realize you’ll never be perfect; you realize you’re not only going to keep making mistakes, making those mistakes is how you learn and grow—they’re the positive building blocks of success. There’s no way to win without them. You know that intellectually, but now it’s time to know it viscerally. It’s time to actually embrace your mistakes, thank the Powers That Be you made them so you can move forward, rise towards your great achievement.

What do you say? Can you do that? Can you show a little kindness towards yourself and do that? Can you be smart enough to do that?

Sure you can. Just do it!

 

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