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Posted by: Leslie White on 01/23/2018

Forgive Yourself And Let It Go

When I am upset with myself, I get this negative chatter that goes on in my mind.  This negative self-talk can cause me to lose my sense of peace, and I cannot stand to lose my sense of peace.  When the negative chatter in my mind is reprimanding myself for things I have done, the best way to stop the chatter is through forgiveness.  Forgiving ourselves can be the most difficult type of forgiveness.   We are taught to be hard on ourselves, but being too hard on ourselves can actually take away our peace. 

There are many reasons why it is important to forgive yourself.  You cannot change the past.  All you can do is make better decisions today and try to move forward.  Being mad at yourself is going to do you no good because you cannot change what has already happened.    We worry so much about what other people say about us or what other people think about us.  The truth is what matters is what we think about ourselves.  What are you saying to yourself and about yourself?  This is what actually makes up your life.  We need to be more concerned with what we are saying about ourselves than what anybody else says about us.  Many times this is the last thing we pay attention to.  What we focus on gets bigger.  What we focus on makes up our lives.  You don’t want to focus on the problems because they will get bigger. 

Sometimes people will think that they don’t want to forgive themselves because they think it will make them a better person if they are upset about what they have done.  You might feel like staying mad at yourself will keep you from making the same mistake.  That does not actually work.  All that does is consume your energy with worry about what you have done.  It does not change what you have done.  You may be more likely to repeat the same mistake if you focus on it.  It can cause you to get into self-hatred and think that you may as well do the same things again.  Don’t fall into this trap.  It is better to forgive yourself, make different decisions and move one.

If you are like me, and you desperately want a quiet mind, you may find that in order to obtain this, you need to forgive yourself for some things.  Here are some things to do when you need to forgive yourself.

The first thing you want to do is write down every single thing you are mad at yourself about.  This is really important because it can show you exactly what it is that you are dealing with.  A lot of times when things are in our heads we think there are so many offenses.  When we put it on paper, it is quite common to realize that there are not as many issues as you thought.  There are also cases where we find out we were more upset with ourselves for more things than we thought.  Either way, we will not know until we write it down.

Next, look at how old your were for each offense.  This can be amazingly helpful.  You might find out that you are mad at a 10-year-old you or a 16-year-old you.   With your current perspective, you may feel that a ten or sixteen year old should not be held accountable for what you are upset about.  Also, you may be mad at yourself for something you did ten years ago.  This may give you perspective as well, because you may realize that at 30 years old you did not have the wisdom that you have at 40, etc.  This will help you figure out exactly who you are blaming.

The third thing to do is figure out what your reasoning was behind each offense.  A lot of things we look at as mistakes now are things that we had a good reason for doing  at the time.   Was there a good reason for it?  Were you doing it out of anger or fear? This can help you understand yourself better for what your decisions were.

What was the actual outcome of the event?  Many times, we think the outcome hasn’t happened yet.  We will take a mistake from yesterday and turn it into an imaginary future catastrophe.  We like to make up in our heads what is going to happen in the future.  We will take something that we did before and blame ourselves for things that haven’t even happened yet.  If this is what you are doing, you want to be aware of it.  You do not know the future.  You do not know what is going to happen.  It is pointless to be mad at yourself for something that hasn’t even happened yet.  That does not make any sense when you actually think about it.

Ask yourself if you would make that same choice again today.  If you stand by the decision and you would make the same choice today, you may not be upset with the choice you made.  You may be blaming yourself for events that happened after you made that decision.  You are not responsible for all of the events that happen after you make a decision.  You are blaming yourself for not being able to control everything, and you can’t control everything.  You will never be able to control everything. Or if you would not make that decision again, then that is another reason to let yourself off the hook.  You are different person now, and you won’t make that same decision again.

The May 9th reading from the devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young jumped out at me one day when I read it.  It  freed me to be able to finally forgive myself.  I want to share it with you in hopes it will do the same for you.

It reads:

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.  I can bring good even out of your mistakes.  Your finite mind tends to look backward, longing to undo decisions you have come to regret.  This is a waste of time and energy, leading only to frustration.  Instead of floundering in the past, release your mistakes to me.  Look to me in trust, anticipating that my infinite creativity can weave both good choices and bad into a lovely design. 

Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes.  Thinking you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride.  Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses.  Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me.  I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes.  Trust me and watch to see what I will do.”

The scripture that goes with that day is Romans 8:28,  He will make all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

When I read  this passage, it finally dawned on me.  I am human and I am supposed to make mistakes.  I started asking God to take my good choices and my bad choices and weave them into a beautiful design.  I asked Him to do this for the people who have been affected by my mistakes.  I asked him for my good and bad choices to become a beautiful design in the lives of everyone involved in my mistakes.  I asked Him to make all things work together for my good and the good of those affected by my mistakes.  Anytime I start to worry about a potential outcome of my past mistakes, I pray that.

This is how I found freedom in forgiveness of myself.

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