Leaving on Platform 12…

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.


AThe first steps of forgiveness are simple.

  • Admit.
  • Apologize.
  • Amend.
  • Ameliorate.

After straight A’s, the next three steps can be difficult because they are F’s.

  • Forgive.
  • Form.
  • Forget.


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.

All buts are cracked.

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:

  1. Was the discovery, apology and penance sufficient to make you plan to forego this behavior in the future?
  2. What did you learn from this?
  3. 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.


african elephantDespite 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?


Talk Tuesday

Talk Tuesday

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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  1. Since I’m paranoid about making mistakes, I frequently freeze up and become paralysed by self-doubt rather than taking a step in the knowledge that it is the right thing to do.

    One of my father’s favourite sayings was that there is no such thing as an accident – so we were punished appropriately so often that we never forgot it and it became part of our responses.

    My youngest brother is now receiving counseling because of this and other kindnesses our father heaped upon us despite Keith being a career soldier replete with promotion to Staff Sergeant and much decorated.

    The middle brother, Neil, also retired with the same rank and medals, but has yet to face our past and get help…

    Love and hugs!


    • You have already taken the first steps, Pren, by correctly identifying the inappropriateness of punishing mistakes. Every one of use is human. We try our best. When you have done all you can, it is inappropriate to expect more. It begins by celebrating the small successes and the successes in which we contribute.

      And even if you are not engaging a therapist, you are truly seeking help. I feel compelled to add, making progress at it as well.

      • Thanks hun, I could write a book about what we went through as kids and what the press and media dug up, driving me to attempt suicide and psychosis.

        I wrote some poems on my blog which helped me a lot, but keep a handkerchief handy!!! 🙂

        Love and hugs!


  2. The self forgiveness part is a big one I’m working on… I have yet to totally clear that one…

    • D, not all of us every do it 100%. If you struggle with it, choose one thing at a time. Even beginning with something small which you normally would forgive, by acknowledging you have forgiven yourself, you make the next thing on the list a bit easier. Like I commented to Prenin, celebrate the successes. When you weigh the good first, the bad has a harder time overtaking the inertia.

  3. Red, what do you have to say about people that find it impossible to forgive themselves and others? Forgiving one’s self is a priority, no doubt about that, but how about people that just will not forgive, no matter what?
    I’ve always treated personal failures and mistakes like little packages– placed on a shelf and remembered, but NOT dwelt upon. Forbidden ammunition may be a good description. We do not become better people by forgetting the lessons life offers us. Have a great day Red!

    • That is a good analogy, Ray.

      As for those who are totally unforgiving, my experience has always outed they do not understand the difference between forgiveness and endorsement. We can forgive inappropriate behavior without condoning it. Only in very rare instances have I found unforgiving people to also have never experienced true, unmitigated forgiveness themselves, and then, they were victims of abuse whose abuser used forgiveness as a weapon of intimidation or fear. Both are mindsets which are difficult to overcome, yet not impossible.

      • Sounds like you’ve met my father – he was into mind games and punishment ‘games’ where you had to admit to and beg forgiveness for a mystery crime you had to guess to be punished for your ‘transgression’ which would leave him on a high all day – until the game began again…

        Love and hugs!


  4. I was the youngest in a family of four kids in a military (RCAF) family, and took the blame for everything, but i accepted it and let the guilty parties be free. This is admirable at times, but when your father is an RCAF pilot, the penalties can be rather daunting…

    • I disagree. I do not think it is admirable to take the fall for something you have not done no matter the circumstances. In doing that, you robbed the guilty of the lesson they needed to learn. As a child, you could not have known that at the time.

      Adults should never take the blame for things they have not done. It is a form of lying. Far better to bring the truth to light than save someone else the consequences of their own actions.

    • bear

       /  February 8, 2012

      Marc what you did by taking one for the team is wrong. I have said a thousand times if you did it own it. If you didn’t do it and you take the fall for it you’re stupid.

      By doing so the person who did the offense learns nothing. And you got punished. Where’s the justice?

      I have read your comments and you appear to be a good person. I agree with a lot of what you say, but my friend, this behavior was wrong. I do hope you do not continue this behavior today, it will only bring you heartache.

      But it’s not just you, there are plenty of people who do this in their adult life. They need professional help. They want the pain so they can say look what I did, I am a good person. Well, they are not. They are part of a bigger problem with themselves and their family.

  5. Love this Ann Marie. Forgiveness is one of life’s hardest lessons. What’s really sad , is when you can’t forgive yourself for things that really were not yours to take responsibility for. Also a hard lesson. Lots of wisdom here. Angie

    • Thank you, Angie. I see a lot of that, especially recently. We cannot control the actions of others, especially when it is a chain reaction. One example is making a decision which affects yourself and one other person. The other person decides they do not like the terms (after agreeing to them) and intentionally tells a third party (who has no bearing on the situation) only to garner commiseration or to inflict pain.

      You cannot feel guilty for the inappropriate actions of the other person. Too many people refuse to forgive themselves when innocent third parties are hurt even though they have been responsible in their own actions. In truth, there is nothing to forgive because there is no real guilt.

  6. I am glad you discuss how time plays a role in the process. Indeed the time needed for self-forgiveness can be considerably longer than one anticipates, if one even chooses to aniticipate.

    • As with any other emotional growth, the easy part is saying, “I will do this.” The doing is more time-consuming.

  7. I did, but I’m not sure it’s totally appropriate here. I forgave myself for not holding my tongue anymore and being the bigger person. I didn’t curse or scream, but I let someone (outside of my family) know how I felt about there actions. That really isn’t like me, although by my blog, some people may not think that.

    • It does apply here. Being able to stand up for yourself is an important component of healthy self-esteem. Want a Redism? The only ones treated like doormats are those who lie down before the door. You are going to enjoy my next award show.

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