Let’s work through this one together.
I have a tough time forgiving, and I understand if you don’t feel like you will ever be able to forgive certain people. Or maybe you can’t forgive yourself. Or maybe, just maybe, you can’t forgive other people because you have a hard time forgiving yourself.
That’s me. I don’t know to give myself a break, and so it’s tough to give one to anyone else. If you had a parent or other prominent figure in your early life who was very demanding and expected perfection from you, maybe you also feel this deep frustration. How can you forgive yourself if you were never taught how? How can you learn self-acceptance and self-compassion when you weren’t given that gift by the adults you relied upon as a child?
When we have role models who do not provide examples of how to treat ourselves lovingly and then in turn do not treat us well either, we grow up with no idea how to shift those trauma patterns.
And yes, it’s frustrating. Maybe you get stuck in thoughts of bitterness and resentment. Maybe you wonder, why me? All these other people had better childhoods than I did. It isn’t fair. And sometimes they did … but you also can’t know that for sure. No, life isn’t fair, but that’s just the way it is. The sooner you learn to give in to the reality of that inequality and focus your energy elsewhere, on what you can actually shift, the happier you will be.
One way to take control and shift is by choosing to forgive both yourself and others. It won’t feel easy at first. You aren’t used to it, after all – you’ve most likely done the opposite for most of your life, held onto grudges with a death grip. I’ve always done that too. I think it gave me some sense of power in situations where I felt otherwise powerless. The thing is that holding on to the bitterness, the anger, the injustice … that only hurts you. It does absolutely nothing to change the situation. Nor does it mean that the person or persons on the other side of it will ever feel remorse or apologize. It’s poisoning you from the inside out, and for what?
I’m not saying the change will happen overnight. But what if you start by shifting your perspective? What if you lean into the idea that maybe, just maybe, it will make YOUR life better if you learn how to forgive? That doing this work is actually an act of deep self-love and self-worth? Imagine all these burdens – this pain and hatred – that you are carrying melting away, simply by virtue of you realizing that they aren’t yours to carry. They never were. It’s long past time to let it go and release yourself from this unnecessary weight.
Start slow. Work on forgiving others – and yourself, most importantly – for little things, even though it may feel strange. Develop grace and compassion. Respond instead of reacting. Treat yourself well so that you can begin to live in this spirit of love towards yourself and others. Forgiving means accepting that someone else could not be what you needed to them to be, and letting go of the desire to shift that which cannot be changed. You can do the same towards yourself. Release your judgment towards yourself for not being what you think you should, and open your heart to that which you actually are. There lies your road to peace.
You can learn to forgive and thus set yourself free from the weight of all these burdens that aren’t actually yours to carry. I believe in you. You got this, and your happiness matters. I love you.