Some of you who read last week’s post may be feeling a little off; as if what I said doesn’t apply to you because you were the one who did wrong and not the victim. I promised you that I would have words for you too, and here they are.
Warning you now, it’s a long post with a couple HUGE paragraphs, but I think they’re important to read.
Maybe you’re the only one who knows what you did. Or maybe your hurt someone (or many someones) by your actions…
Let me ask: do you regret what you’ve done? If you are remorseful, you still deserve to forgive yourself. If you’re not remorseful, chances are you don’t feel like you were in the wrong to begin with, so you’re probably not even reading this post.
So, if you hurt someone else – or felt short of what you think someone else deserves – you probably won’t be able to move on until you’ve made amends with them. Maybe they’ve already forgiven you and moved on (and you feel like you don’t deserve that). Maybe they never want to hear from you again (and you feel like until they are okay with you, you can’t move on). Maybe they’re no longer here on this earth (and you feel like you lost your chance to make things right).
All of these are feasible possibilities. Let’s look at each one.
- They’ve already forgiven you and moved on. In this situation, you may feel that you haven’t done enough to make up for the bad, so you keep punishing yourself. You may think, “They don’t understand how messed up I am,” or “They don’t know my motivations or the thoughts I had when I did” whatever it was you did. Does their understanding (or lack thereof) lessen the amount of hurt or betrayal they felt? Of course it doesn’t. With all of this being the case – if you are remorseful for what you’ve done, you don’t plan to do it ever again, and you’re actively working to turn your life around – it’s time to start letting go of your self-hatred and start forgiving yourself.
- They never want to hear from you again – this is a real possibility. Maybe it was said in the heat of the moment and they didn’t really mean ‘never’, or at least you think they didn’t actually mean ‘never’. Maybe someday you can send them a card or letter, but for the time being, respect their wishes. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re not allowed to move on. I’m not going to start guessing why they don’t want to hear form you – it could be because they’re extremely hurt or because they’re toxic human beings. There are too many possibilities. I’m writing this post for you, not to explain other people’s actions and thought processes. The same standards from above apply here. If you are remorseful and work to turn your life around, it’s time to start forgiving yourself.
- They’re not longer on this earth. The situation holds its own set of complications, but the principles from above still count. I think we all carry regrets when someone we love and/or care about passes away. Sometimes the reason things were bad is our fault, sometimes it’s the other person’s fault. You cannot live the rest of your life trapped in “what ifs”! There is no “redo” button. There is no turning back time and trying again. If you are remorseful and work to turn your life around, it’s time to start forgiving yourself. If it’s someone you wish you had said, “I love you” to just one last time, I’m sure they know you loved them. If you fought the last time you spoke, that doesn’t mean they didn’t love you and know you loved them. It’s okay to move on in your life.
With all of the above, I think it’s important to say this: people tend to see us as our mistakes. If they’ve known us only one way (either from a first impression or how they’ve known us for a long time), it’s difficult for them to accept the changes in us. You may have changed, but their perception has not.
This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t forgive yourself.
It’s a difficult process. Keep moving forward.
We can outgrow people in our lives.
You don’t necessarily owe people an explanation, but your actions – over time – will prove your life change.
Forgiveness, whether others or self, is a process. It’s a daily reminder and decision. You’ll find healing when you begin the process.