Photo courtesy of soot+chalk
A few days ago I was in a foul mood and I ended up taking it out on my husband. He was happily whistling and making funny comments in the grocery store, and I was irritated with his lack of interest in which air freshener we should buy. I snapped at him as we shopped and then again when we arrived home. Later, I felt terrible about the way I had treated someone I love so much. I apologized profusely, and he said I was forgiven.
But I still felt like an awful person on the inside.
I’ve always had a hard time forgiving myself when I do something stupid, mean, or irresponsible. I guess the reason for that is that I work really hard to be the best person I can be, and when I mess up, I feel like I have to start all over. It’s all or nothing.
As a person with a lot of aggressive tendencies, I am not a natural ‘warm and fuzzy’ kinda gal. While I credit my aggressive and tough exterior as the reason I overcame a lot of obstacles to obtain the life I wanted, there is definitely a time and a place for taking charge. What I’ve had to do is recognize the times when I should be more tolerant, less rigid, and relaxed.
If you have trouble forgiving yourself when you act out, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that forgiving yourself doesn’t mean excusing your behavior – it simply means that you’re making an effort to keep your head high and your spirit happy despite your mistakes.
Also, continuing to re-hash your mistake will increase your feelings of guilt and anger. These are two very damaging emotions and can lead to a variety of health problems in the long term.
Ask yourself why you have to behave so perfectly while you don’t expect the same from others. For example, when my husband makes a mistake and apologizes, I am quick to forgive him and move on. Forgiving ourselves comes with accepting that we are all imperfect beings.
Remember, you only need to forgive yourself for specific actions, not for who you are as a person. Love and accept yourself as a person with any “flaws” or mistakes you have made.
Letting your mistakes stop your forward momentum in life would be the worst of all possible scenarios. Instead, imagine how you can improve upon yourself and remember – forgiveness is an ongoing journey. Accept that mistakes will happen again but try to view them as minor bumps in the road instead of road blocks.
Value yourself, learn from your mistakes, focus on the positive things in your life, apologize sincerely if you have hurt someone, and most of all remember that everyone deserves forgiveness. Even you.