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Mindful Leadership

The Importance of Self-Forgiveness

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Typically when we think of forgiveness we think of forgiving others.  But, the most important form of forgiveness is self-forgiveness.  It is only in forgiving ourselves that we can ever hope to forgive others who we believe have hurt or harmed us.

It always starts with ourselves.  There are so many big ways and small ways that we do not forgive ourselves.  At times it may be behaviour or thoughts that may cause us shame.  And in this shame there may be guilt.  And following from that, we may not forgive ourselves.

But, there is a more subtle aspect where lack of self-forgiveness comes into play.  Perhaps if you are an overachiever or a perfectionist, your standards may be so high that it is impossible to consistently succeed in your eyes, and when you fall short, you blame yourself.  Blame is very unforgiving.  It is judgmental and rigid.  It presumes it is right and there is no room for the compassion required to forgive self or others.

Then there are the judgments we hold of others.  Often having judged someone else, we have a sense of discomfort or guilt that follows.  And shortly, thereafter, we may turn that guilt towards ourselves and what follows is lack of self-forgiveness.

When this happens once or twice it may not be clearly evident or impactful.  But over a lifetime this lack of self-forgiveness accumulates and causes us harm.  It prevents us from fully realizing our potential.  You see, when we are not worthy of forgiving, we may not be fully worthy of good things coming our way.  It’s very insidious.  But, soon we may find ourselves not achieving goals we desperately hoped and worked for.  We may not get that job we thought we would get.  We may not keep a relationship that matters.

Deep down what has happened is the “feel”, that is, the emotion that has been left unresolved has dictated our lives.  When we are aware moment by moment, we begin to see what arises in the mind and especially the emotion in the body.  And this is the key to unlocking any unresolved issue.  And all there is left to do is to have the depth of self-compassion required for self-forgiveness.

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One Response to The Importance of Self-Forgiveness

  1. Paula says:

    I really like this, Maria. I’ve noticed that there is this “hardness” or agression in my practice, like always always wanting to do better or be better. I’m starting to see that softening here, having compassion for myself, forgiving myself for the imperfections that are part of being human, is a good place to start. When I soften things start to flow again…