Ways to Forgive Ourselves and Others

Forgiveness is an inside job

Have you heard the saying “forgiveness is an inside job”? It’s true, but how do we get free from old resentments and anger that block our release into forgiveness and peace?

 

As Carley Hauck explains in her recent article in Mindful magazine, we may be holding on to past hurts because “our inner narratives or personal stories can easily lead us down a path of reactivity.  We start blaming and shaming, and as a result, we are not able to move forward into compassion, understanding, and forgiveness of ourselves or others. Simply put: when we get stuck in our heads, weaving narratives, even after a simple squabble at home or work, it becomes more difficult to recover.”

 

I encourage you to read her full article, but if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably suspect the solution I  recommend: mindfulness practice. That’s right, being in the present moment and recognizing the feelings in a non-judging way is the first step to forgiveness.  Here’s what’s worked for me and countless other mindfulness practitioners:

 

How to Forgive Yourself

  1. Name and acknowledge your feelings of anger and resentment.
  2. In this new space you create between your emotions and your reactions, you have the freedom to choose how to respond with compassion.
  3. Write a forgiveness letter to yourself. Forgive yourself for the times you didn’t speak up or take good care of yourself or claim what you wanted. Forgive the times you didn’t say “no” when you wanted to or when you didn’t set healthy boundaries. Your mindful attention will reveal what you need to forgive.
  4. Create a loving phrase that will help you whenever you struggle to forgive, such as “I am a loving person and I deeply want the best for others. I forgive myself.”
  5. Feel gratitude for the lessons you learned along the way.
  6. Begin to cultivate compassion toward yourself and others you’ve had difficult relationships with.

 

As Hauck wisely observes, forgiveness has layers that we uncover through mindful attention. It’s also a choice – one that can feel counterintuitive when we’ve been relying on anger for strength. But our true strength and resilience come from letting go and moving on in peace and with compassion for ourselves and others.

 

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm