At the beginning of the month, I discussed hating self-improvement. That’s still true: I hate having to do things for my own good. One of the many reasons why I dislike it is because self-improvement dredges up imperfections. When I hold up a mirror to myself, I see all the things I want to change and feel discouraged by what I must do. Self-compassion teaches that we should embrace our imperfections, specifically with self-forgiveness.
One way to do that is to move beyond what we view as imperfection. If you are like me and take each “imperfection” as a personal slight, there is a lot of resentment built up for yourself. In these moments it’s important to say “I’m sorry” to yourself, whether you mean it or not.
So at this moment, let’s collectively say “we’re sorry” and begin the process of healing.
Embracing our Imperfections
In my posts about self-compassion, I write about the importance of accepting our destiny to be imperfect beings. I’ve learned this the hard way. I grew up viewing my imperfections as blights rather than as opportunities for growth.
When I realized I needed to embrace my imperfection, I took a moment to apologize to myself, whether I needed to or not.
At first, I felt like the apologies were unnecessary. Why should I apologize for having a perfectly natural emotion, like anger? I don’t have to apologize for that moment I was socially awkward. I was apologizing for the wrong things to start: I wasn’t getting to the heart of the matter. But by beginning the process, I could see the moments where the self-apology was necessary.
I realized that I wasn’t actually apologizing for the anger. Anger is a normal emotion, and there is no need to apologize for it. But the consequence of my passion, the fallout where I spent hours berating myself for a small mistake. That I had to apologize to myself for. Each moment I engaged in self-destructive behavior, I owed myself an apology.
The behavior I engaged in would be unacceptable if a friend, family member, or stranger did it to me. Why should I accept the bullying behavior from myself?
If you’ve found that you mistreated yourself for whatever reason, consider taking a few minutes to apologize. Say it internally or externally. It can be as quick or as long as you need. But consider saying “I’m sorry,” to yourself.
Forgiveness as a Tool
When you apologize to yourself, forgiveness becomes a valuable tool. Studies reveal that the act of forgiveness lowers stress and helps aid in managing chronic illnesses. Forgiveness is self-compassion, where it provides us with an opportunity to heal and embrace ourselves as we are at this moment.
Let’s discuss what forgiveness is not: it is not about the pasting getting away with its actions; letting others get away with an injustice; nor is it about completely discarding personal pain.
Forgiveness is about no longer allowing the past having a negative hold on us. The past serves as an opportunity to inform our present and future, but we can let go of the control it has on us.
We extend compassion towards those who hurt us, especially ourselves when we embrace forgiveness. In these moments, we are giving up a lot of control, as holding onto the pain and resentment is a form of unhealthy control, and allowing ourselves to heal.
When you start to forgive yourself, hopefully, you’ll experience the consequence of getting out of a personal rut. You may find that all you are mentally waiting for is that apology and opportunity to say, “I forgive you.”
Forgiveness in Daily Life
Stop. Take a breath. And say “I’m sorry for being so upset for that flub. I recognize it wasn’t necessarily your fault and you didn’t mean anything by it.” Say what you might want to hear from someone else.
Then stop again. Listen to those words and hold them in your emotional center. Say “I forgive you.”
Try not just to say it. Mean it. Forgive yourself for each perceived transgression you experience in the day. Open up your emotional center and feel the love that comes with forgiveness. Each time you start down a negative path, actively say, “I forgive you,” to yourself.
Use forgiveness as a stress-relief tool in your kit for combating your chronic illness. With some practice, you’ll find it will be easier to achieve daily. Recognize that you are worthy of your own love and compassion.
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