Forgiving others can be a major challenge to overcome and there are tonnes of things that complicate this process, including your relationship to the other individual(s), the history of repeated behaviours or offences, and the magnitude of the offence (s) made. When we talk about self-love and healing, as much as forgiving others is important, a major barrier to self-love can be years of unresolved conflict and unforgiveness toward ourselves.
When we’re unforgiving to ourselves, self-forgiveness becomes a challenge and self-love becomes compromised. As Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines, when we’re unforgiving, we’re “unwilling or unable to forgive”, or we’re “having or making no allowance for error or weakness”.
Therefore, if practising self-forgiveness drives you to run in the opposite direction, it’s likely that you may find yourself fitting into one or both of those categories. Practising self-forgiveness in one or multiple areas of your life may be the actual remedy. Since your self-love is dependent on your ability to be self-forgiving, breaking down the steps to achieve this is crucial. Let’s explore this journey by identifying 3 foundational steps of the self-forgiveness process.
Being able to acknowledge the experience you encountered that triggered self-unforgiveness as well as the thoughts and feelings that stem from it is key. When you don’t acknowledge that those factors are existent it stifles your ability to progress toward self-forgiveness.
Sometimes avoiding, neglecting, or denying the reality of how you feel about yourself and the memory or impact of what you experienced can be less difficult than accepting them for what they are. Those things can even become coping mechanisms that further limit your ability to exercise self-forgiveness and find the healing that leads to self-love.
Like the other two steps, showing yourself some compassion may not be easy if shame, guilt, and resentment have been built over a span of years. However, being able to extend mercy and grace toward yourself from a place of empathy can help to gradually eliminate any form of punishment or hurt that you may be inflicting on yourself as a result of self-unforgiveness.
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