Clicky

Search:

Forgiving Ourselves

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under blog

How do you and I feel when we set our sights and goals very high only to fall short of those objectives?  If you are like me, it’s very easy to get down on yourself and beat yourself up and that can set you back a few miles mentally, making you feel terrible or pretty much worthless.  This can happen to anyone, even the very rich and very famous, as we have sadly seen with a number of super-rich and famous people that have taken their own lives.

I grew up in a culture that pounded into my head the bible scripture of Matthew 5:48 which says “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Quite frankly, I think that did me more harm than good, because as a young boy, I tried and tried but couldn’t seem to be “perfect” in anything at all. I would look around at other people and saw many that seemed to have a perfect life.  Little did I know then that pretty much no one on the planet has had a perfect life. If a person spends too much time and effort trying to become perfect, it can absolutely ruin them. Quite frankly, I think that scripture passage has been the cause of more than a few suicides.

We certainly don’t want to stop trying to reach our lofty goals and become better and better at whatever we choose to do, but we also must learn and practice forgiving ourselves.  It’s kind of strange to me that sometimes it seems easier to forgive someone else when they screw up but much harder to forgive ourselves. I totally agree with John M. Grohol Psy.D. when he wrote his “5 Ways of Letting Go of the Past”

  1. Make a decision to let it go.
  2. Express your pain and your responsibility.
  3. Stop being a victim and blaming others.
  4. Focus on the present, the here and now, and joy.
  5. Forgive them and forgive yourself.

Then there is some super wise advice from a great writer by the name of a Noah St. John. It’s from his book called The Book of AFFORMATIONS®, regarding a program he calls “Permission to Succeed”:

  1. Admit your past mistakes.
  2. Realize you did the best you could do at the time.
  3. Take actions to make sure you don’t repeat those mistakes.

Our brains also play a big a part in our success and failure, as Noah notes in another book of his, Get Rid of Your Head Trash: How to Avoid 3 Big Money Mistakes Even Smart People Make.  I love this title because it really says it all.

In Noah’s book The Secret Code of Success, he maintains that we all need to let up on ourselves and give ourselves breaks and take time to enjoy and celebrate the self. You need to let go of the past when it’s hurting you and accept the present. He states that the key to letting go of the past – and I’d say even if it’s the past of 5 minutes – is to forgive yourself and others that may have mistreated you. That’s great advice that works to make our lives so much better, more successful, and more productive. Perhaps we don’t have not perfect lives, but they can be pretty darn good ones with so much less stress!

 

Moving Beyond Your Mistakes

August 30, 2013 by  
Filed under blog

So how have you been coming along with the self-compassion and forgiving of self?  Shortly after I wrote last week’s post on that subject I was playing doubles tennis with friends when I heard my partner chastising herself over a flubbed shot.  It didn’t stop there, though. She went on to berate herself on her over all  play even going back to several previous points and into mistakes she’d made in the previous game.  Wow, and that was just what she was saying out loud for everyone to hear.  I’m pretty sure her internal dialog was even more severe.

Suddenly, at that moment, I realized I was doing a bit of that “self-criticizing and beating myself up on my missed shots and mistakes, only I was doing it “inside my head”.  Yes my ol’ chatterbox was sabotaging my tennis game too.  Recognizing that, I immediately forgave myself for such thoughts and quickly started playing much, much better and we went on to win the set.

Strangely most of us are tough on ourselves but generous on others. Every time my partner made a mistake I would immediately tell her “Hey, no problem. We’ll get the next point.” Of course my positive words of forgiveness and encouragement should also be the words and thoughts that she should be saying internally and externally.

As I mentioned last week, studies have shown that self-criticism and beating up on yourself when you make a mistake leads to more mistakes and forgiving yourself leads to more success.   Kelly McGonigal makes that point over and over in her great book “The Willpower Instinct”. When she mentions self-forgiveness while she’s teaching a class she says “the arguments start pouring in. You would think I had just suggested that the secret to more will power was throwing kittens in front of speeding buses.” The students generally say “If I forgive myself, I’ll just do it again.” or “My problem isn’t that I’m too hard on myself–my problem is that I’m not self-critical enough!” But again the research pretty much proves that the more we forgive ourselves the more success we will have in the future.

What research was done and how it was done has a bit to do with the so called “What the Hell” effect. Come back and read next week’s blog and I will lay that out for you.