The Act of Self-Forgiveness
July 20, 2012
“What a stupid thing to do!”
“How could I have done that?”
“I’m soooo embarrased!”
“I’m such an idiot.”
We have all said these things to ourselves at one point in our lives. The negative self-talk in which we engage only serves to make us feel bad, overcautious and victimized by our own decisions. It is a powerless place where nothing we do differently will make it better. We remain the imbeciles we think we are.
That is, unless we practice a little self-forgiveness for the mistakes we make.
About ten years ago, I began the self-forgiveness journey with an inquiry about what life would be like if:
- every time we made an error, we would laugh instead of cry
- we acknowledge the cringing sensation of having said/done/thought something less than optimal
- we celebrate the knowledge of what doesn’t work versus beating ourselves us for selecting that path
- we distinguish between making mistakes and our own intrinsic value (that is to say, one does not affect the other. You are still worthy even if you’re imperfect).
In an earlier post last year, I blogged about the seemingly unforgivable that people actually forgave. Forgiveness, whether of self or of others, is the route to setting yourself free. It is not the perpetrator who is liberated by your forgiveness, but yourself. If you are the perpetrator of your own acts of self-violence, then forgiveness is needed all the more as you play a double starring role in your own unfurling drama.
My dear actor friend and acting coach Gabrielle Scharnitzky taught me a lovely exercise I would like to impart to you. Since many of us in this insane-size-zero-celebrity-driven culture carry with us a less than ideal body image, you might find this exercise particularly helpful for developing a sense of gratitude for your body as well as practicing the act of self-forgiveness. It goes like this:
After taking a shower or bath, thank each part of your body for the things that it does. As you apply lotion to your skin, really look at yourself. Every part. Say a prayer of gratitude (“Thank you, feet, for helping me stand tall.” or “Thank you, hands, for helping me create miracles today…”). It will not only give you a better sense of self, it will also put you in a better mood. After all, how can you not forgive a person who is saying “thank you”?
And that person, my love, is you.