This 1 Step Will Remove Guilt & Make You Forgive Yourself
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections
Guilt is something that, once begun, is hard to stop. It’s a bad habit and is extremely hard to break.
Sometimes it’s so much easier to forgive another person than it is to forgive ourselves. We have our ideals of what we should be and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
While it is a good thing to expect good things from ourselves, it’s another thing to beat ourselves into the ground for it.
If we are trying to do good things, why do we rack ourselves with guilt? What good comes from beating ourselves up?
In order to get rid of guilt, first there must be forgiveness. We need to be able to forgive ourselves.
This is not an easy thing to do, especially with the demands we put on ourselves. This is not to say that we shouldn’t have standards for ourselves and goals set to do and be better.
The goal is to be able to fall short once in a while without giving up on ourselves, thinking we will never amount to anything. Because it just isn’t true.
So what is the secret?
The ONE Trick
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Forgiveness becomes so much easier when we love ourselves. We have a genuine appreciation for the good and the bad attributes that we have and are able to use them for the benefit of others.
Think about how much easier it is to forgive someone that you love, rather than someone you don’t know or someone you don’t like.
It can take some time to really understand the good that we have in ourselves. Seeing the good deserves just as much time and focus as seeing the negative.
The more we look at and see ourselves for who we really are, the easier we are to love.
So who are you, really? What do you love about yourself? Start listening to those who love you if you need an idea of where to start.
How To Love Yourself
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Every single person has good traits that make them lovable. The trick is to find them.
This is actually something that deserves an article in and of itself, but for now, here is a taste to get you started. Be watching for future articles that will go more in depth on this topic.
Sit yourself down and ask yourself a few questions. Don’t move on until you find the answers to the following questions:
What am I good at?
What makes me happy?
What do I love to do?
How can I make someone smile?
You don’t even have to limit yourself to one answer per question, or asking them more than once. In fact, the more this is repeated, and with different answers, you can start to see your true self.
Allowing yourself to recognize the good, rather than to simply focus on the negative, makes you more lovable. You really are quite awesome when you stop and think about it. Who wouldn’t love you?
With all of these great qualities you’ve found, how could you not love yourself? That’s not just something that others do. You must love yourself in order to have any quality of life.
Without self love, we put up with a lot more abuse in just about every aspect of our lives. We can get that not only in our personal relationships, but at work, school and in any activity you participate in. That self love is what makes us stand up for ourselves and not put up with anything others will dish out.
“Without forgiveness and love, you will live with resentment, bitterness, malice and strife which result in more pain. You can never love without forgiving. Forgiveness deepens your ability to love and frees you from pain.”
― Kemi Sogunle
If you are good enough to be worthy of love, why would you also not be worthy of forgiveness? They are, after all, tied closely together.
You deserve to forgive yourself just as much as any person who has ever lived. If Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, losing her entire family and suffered immensely at the hands of German soldiers, yet still forgive them and include them in her post-war efforts, I’m pretty sure you can forgive yourself.
I have long admired Corrie ten Boom’s love for others.
She loved people enough to hide Jews in her home in the Netherlands.
She loved people enough to suffer side by side with them, all while encouraging and lifting them through despair.
She loved people enough to forgive one of the very soldiers who stood guard, causing immense suffering of many.
Most importantly, she loved people enough to include herself in that love. Facing death, she still dared to smuggle a bible into the concentration camp with her so she could have what was most important to her.
Once she gained strength from the thing she loved most, making it a part of her, she shared with others.
However, she first needed that strength that comes from self-love.
Corrie was put in a concentration camp because she was caught smuggling Jews. She was doing a good thing, made a mistake in judgement (she was betrayed by someone she chose to trust) and was caught. Her operation stopped, and she suffered.
It could have been so easy to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. She failed. How many more could she have helped if she had not gotten caught? How many lives were endangered by this choice to trust?
Corrie’s sister Betsy was also imprisoned, and died in the concentration camp. Corrie could have shouldered the weight of Betsy’s death as her own fault.
Rather than focus on all of that, she chose to forgive herself, focus on the good and keep giving.
How often are we in a similar position. We try to do good. We fail. We face some nasty consequences. Do we drop the guilt to move forward? Or do we carry it around, holding us back from the goodness that is around us?
The Golden Rule
“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”
― Marvin J. Ashton
A good way to practice this self love is to love and be kind to others. This is more difficult than it sounds. The world we live in thrives off of rude and sarcastic remarks.
Whether these are intended to be cruel or said in jest with a friend, they still contain a grain of truth and can still be hurtful.
No wonder we find it so hard to love ourselves when we are peppered with negativity all day long.
Finding the good in others is a great way to practice seeing good in yourself as well. You can then, to an extent, become your own therapist to build yourself up.
We live in a world that likes to tear people down. If you are going to build yourself up, who will?
If you don’t share the good things you see, who will?
Practice seeing good in others, and let them know. People need to hear good things once in a while.
So in addition to being good practice, it can strengthen relationships with sharing positive affirmations.
Added bonus: feeling good about lifting others and doing a good deed. Doing good deeds and giving compliments is just another reason to love who you are!
So maybe when we hold ourselves to a higher standard, it should be a greater appreciation of yourself and your ability for find the good in an increasingly negative world.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
― Mark Twain
Alleviating guilt comes through forgiveness, and it’s so much easier to forgive when you understand and love yourself for who you are, flaws and all.
Keep striving for improvement and higher standards, but know that you are still worth loving and worth forgiveness, even when you fail. Failure shows you are at least trying.
Failure is a good thing, and yet another thing to praise. Keep an eye out for future articles on this as well.
You are only holding yourself back being burdened by guilt. Stop beating yourself up and instead spend that time and energy to build yourself and others around you up.
You are great and are doing wonderful things. Keep going.
So What’s Next?
As a free gift, I have made a guide to help you on this journey. Click Here to get your 8 step guide to understanding and loving yourself, flaws and all.
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