On the Path to Recovery: Is it Time to Forgive?

 Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

Is it time to forgive?  That depends on who is asking.  If you are asking me, "Is it time to forgive myself?" I would say YES, YES, YES!  NOW is the time to forgive. What are you waiting for?  It is good for you, it heals your soul.  It is the kind and gentle thing.  Isn’t life a series of mistakes?  Isn’t a mistake just a negative label we put on a learning process?

Then there are all the sayings about being knocked down and getting back up.  And we have all the sage advice about facing fear.

Looking back, if you had asked me, “Is it time to forgive yourself?” I would have been hard pressed to honestly say, “Yes.” 

In the years of seeking transformation, in workshops, meditation retreats, New Year’s resolution parties, or in working the 12 steps, I was asked to write a letter to forgive the person that hurt me the most.   In each and every one of those moments, the person who I needed to forgive was me. I was the one who continued to abuse myself year after year. 

In every letter or in every ceremony of burning away to forgiveness, it was always me that needed forgiving. 

I found this piece in my writing from several years back:

“As I begin writing, my goal is to forgive myself and to ask you to finally do the same.  Why? Because I know it is the right thing to do.  I want you to forgive yourself.  I want us all to be always kind, compassionate and generous to ourselves.  Why?  Because I believe that we can then be kind and generous to each other and that will heal the earth.

It is difficult to understand the wise spiritual teachers who say the devastation of the earth is a reflection of the devastation of ourselves.  We are critical and downright mean to ourselves.  We abuse our bodies as a result of our belief that we don’t deserve forgiveness.  My quest has always been to change that inside.  I want to do that now.  I want the time for forgiveness to be now.”

Of course, this in an inside job. 

I cannot rely on your forgiveness.  You may not choose to forgive me. 

I have to choose for myself.

Getting there was another story. 

I couldn’t get there by wishing it were so.

I looked at my hidden beliefs – “No one could ever love someone who made the mistakes I made.  There is no way out. I am unforgivable. Rotten inside.” 

Working with a coach I was questioned and questioned until I finally saw that I was choosing to believe thoughts that were hurting me and causing me to live in pain.  This was a game changer.  Over the next several years I continued to practice looking at and questioning my thoughts and come to find that I have forgiven myself.

I have achieved that goal. I have found forgiveness. .

Today feelings bubble up and the truth is I am free.  Finally, free.  Free to make new mistakes. Always new opportunities to practice forgiveness.

Will you stop and look at your thoughts?  What do you believe about your mistakes?  Can you forgive yourself?  Is it time already?