Forgive Yourself

I listened closely as my friend told me that she was letting her family down. Her eyes filled with tears and then, as her story continued, she began to cry. “Letting them down?” I asked softly and in disbelief. Knowing how much time and energy she devotes to her family, I could not believe what I was hearing. How could she believe there was more she should be doing? We talked for a long time, or at least she did, and I tried to support her, to gently help this remarkable woman reframe her view of herself.

In the days since that conversation, I have remembered similar discussions with many other women over the years – family members, friends, colleagues, and even an occasional stranger on a plane or train. Would it be an overstatement to say that all these women felt they were letting down someone in their life, including themselves? That they believed they were not living up to others’ expectations or to their own, doing all they could or should for others?

Most women are harsh self-critics. I think of it as the I’m-not-“something”-enough syndrome. Not smart enough, or accomplished enough, or strong enough, or patient enough. As you read this blog, I urge you to know without any doubt that you are all you need to be and much, much more. Today and everyday, you are amazing, whether you believe it or not. There are two important messages I hope to convey here…LOVE YOURSELF and FORGIVE YOURSELF. The messages are, of course, completely interrelated.

It is likely that no one’s expectations of you are higher than your expectations of yourself. So, if you are ready to let go of the feeling of letting others down, ready to forgive yourself for the things for which you hold yourself responsible, I suggest the six simple steps below. They can be done in as few as five minutes, but I suggest that you take more time with them. You deserve it.

Step 1: Close your eyes for a moment, and take three very deep breaths. Open your eyes.

Step 2: Write (or type) this question “For which things in my life do I blame myself?”

Step 3: Take a few minutes to jot down whatever comes to mind (TIP: Try not to filter. No one is going to see this but you, so quickly note whatever comes to mind.) Limit yourself to 2 -3 items, those that are most recurring in your mind, the ones that are habitual. (Yes, there’ may be others, but you always the opportunity to do this exercise again.)

Step 4: At the top of a fresh page, write or type a version of this phrase, “I am amazing. I forgive myself now for EVERYTHING for which I blame myself.” And then refer back to the list you made in Step3. Write a declaration for each of the items on that list, beginning each one with a version of, “I forgive myself once and for all for ….” If there is anything for which you feel you cannot forgive yourself, ask your self why, and then what you could do, today or some other day, to let go of this blame you carry.

Step 5: When you have finished, reread your declarations. Check in with yourself to see if you really believe them, if you can forgive yourself completely. Whether you believe you can or cannot, you have a better understanding of the burdens you have consciously or unconsciously been lugging around with you.

Step 6: Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Self-discovery is not always easy, but the results help you remember who you truly are – the one and only amazing you!

12 Responses to Forgive Yourself

  1. Carrie May 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    That’s a great reminder! Thanks! 🙂

    • sharon May 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post, Carrie. I hope that you have a wonderful day!

  2. Ling May 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Hi Sharon, I am so glad I came across this website. For some reason, this post really touched me. You are always your worst critic and it’s so hard to change that mind set. There are times where I felt quite selfish for chasing after my dreams (e.g. quit my job and went to Antarctica for 5 months) while my family strongly opposed it. I thought I really disappointed them, but long after, when I talk to my family about it, they were opposing it not because they don’t want to support what I want to do but they were worried and concerned about my decision and what would happen afterward.

    • sharon May 24, 2013 at 1:15 am #

      Thanks very much for your comment, Ling, and for sharing your personal experience. Yes, we can be our toughest critic, or learn to love and accept ourselves. It’s a process that can be challenging at times, and I admire your commitment.

      Sending a hug,

      Sharon

  3. S April 30, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Sharon!
    Your email and blog could not have come at a more perfect time as I am currently struggling with the same sentiments as your friend. Thank you so much for this uplifting and much-needed message. It really is not easy since we really are our harshest critic,but after reading this, I am learning how to forgive myself, and more importantly, love myself.

    Big hug!
    S

    • sharon April 30, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks very much for your comment,S. I am so happy to hear that you are learning to love and forgive yourself. It is often a more difficult challenge that it seems it should be and I admire your commitment. Sending back a very big hug,

      Sharon

  4. Lynne April 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Thanks for the simple reminder to drop the luggage. Very helpful perspective.

    • sharon April 30, 2013 at 6:21 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Lynne. Sending a hug!

      Sharon

  5. Jacque April 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Sharon: Your blog is exceptional; I need and want to forgive myself and following your exercise will definitely help. Thank you.

    • sharon April 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jacque. How great that you are ready to forgive yourself. Sending a very big hug!

      Sharon

  6. Kathy April 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    Thanks very much for this helpful exercise. I don’t know when I started blaming myself for so many things in my life, but I am relieved to discover a way to to something about it.

    • sharon April 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Thank you for your comment, Kathy. I admire your courage and wish you all the best as you stop blaming yourself and forgive yourself instead.

      Sending a big hug,

      Sharon