You recognized it was wrong. You stopped doing it. You made a plan to do something far better, or at least a plan to avoid it in the future. You are waiting on…what, exactly? This is the kind of test where not showing your work gets points taken off your score.
The first steps of forgiveness are simple.
After straight A’s, the next three steps can be difficult because they are F’s.
Forgiving yourself is difficult when you look in the mirror and see someone who has (failed, hurt, angered). Even if someone else has granted you forgiveness, to look at yourself and do the same can seem unlikely.
If you have hurt someone else, who has forgiven you, you are belittling the gesture by continuing to be unforgiving to yourself. You are saying, You may be willing to forgive, but I know more than you do. The operative word in that statement is but, and as we explored yesterday: All buts are cracked.
Forgiveness is giving up resentment for or claim of requital for (a wrong). If the but is legitimate, you have gotten forgiveness unfairly and committed another wrong. If the but is cracked, you need to self-forgive.
Not self-forgiving is a form of self-loathing. To resent yourself is counterproductive to effectively creating a better situation for both your forgiver and you.
After forgiveness, you need to fill out the form:
- Was the discovery, apology and penance sufficient to make you plan to forego this behavior in the future?
- What did you learn from this?
- Do you want to come back to this place?
If you answered the last question NO, the lesson has been learned. Rather than remember the pain of the process, remember the lesson and the resolve not to return to the place where the lesson needs to be refreshed.
You learned long ago the stove was hot. You do not want to return your hand to the flame. The burn of bad behavior stings as well. Refrain from it.
Despite what your waistline or BFF may say, you are not an elephant. Choosing to forget does not mean unlearning the lesson. On the contrary, the lesson is what is to be remembered.
Your actions reflect your attitude of change. You are a new person. The bad behavior is part of the old person which no longer fits the new you, who is leaving it behind.
Continuing to carry around the offense, and subsequently flaming yourself with it, erases the forgiveness and returns you to where you no longer wish to be. Consider the offense forbidden ammunition. Once forgiven, an offense no longer exists. You may not use it against yourself.
Watch the Watch
None of this process happens instantaneously. Each step takes its own time. This is not an excuse to carry it for any prolonged period. Dragging the process out is not penance.
Harboring the hurt of not forgiving yourself burns emotional capital better spent on pursuing the new, better behavior. Every time we are hurt, we change. In that change grows our power to forgive. The next time, it will be easier. The goal is to learn enough to make the lessons further apart.
Have you forgiven yourself for something recently? How freeing was it? Are the lessons getting further apart? How has it changed you and your perspective?
Tolerance and respect will be the topic of our Talk Tuesday. (The topic will be posted at 1900 EDT [GMT-5] and the discussion will begin at 2000. If you cannot stay until the discussion begins, please leave a comment or question for the group to discuss.)
© Red Dwyer 2012
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