Have you ever stood in front of a mirror looking at yourself, not sure what to think, or say?
Gripped so tightly by fear, that your stomach fills with knots?
That’s exactly how it feels every time I try to forgive myself. It’s the end of January, and it’s been a month since I quit social media. This month, I’ve discovered a few things about myself, things I need to forgive myself for, things I need to let go of, and things I need to embrace.
Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that breaking a habit is not the easiest of things to do. It takes courage and dedication, but most of all, it takes will power. But even breaking habits hasn’t been as hard as it has been forgiving myself.
So I’m still standing in front of the mirror, gathering the courage to speak three little words; “I forgive you.”
Not so much because the words can’t come out, but mostly because I’m ashamed of what comes after that statement.
Exactly what do I forgive myself for? Emotional eating? The anger outbursts? Or the mistakes I’ve been dying to forget, or the fact that resentment is slowly crippling inside me?
I was taught that forgiveness is a virtue and that when you forgive others, it sets you free. But nobody prepared me or taught me how to forgive myself. Heck, I don’t even have a book I can read on this. All I have is this pit in my stomach; this hunch that this is the beginning I need for a brand-new life.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is many things for many people. But for me, forgiving yourself is more about facing your weaknesses, embracing your faults, and accepting that they are part of who you are. A part of what makes you tick and keeps you going.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work to making better choices, but how can you make better choices when you can’t face the wrong decisions from yesterday?
How can you improve your weakness when you can’t admit it exists? Can you work to improve something when you haven’t noticed the flaw in it?
I doubt it.
So, as I stand in front of this mirror, I’m not battling poverty, unfulfilled, or lack of confidence. I’m fighting myself. Wrestling that I can let go and forgive myself, accept that this is who I am. That I have flaws that will often land me in trouble, but ones that will create a path for me to learn and become a better person, a better mother, a better wife, a better writer.
Speaking of letting it go, exactly what is letting go? Exactly how do you do that? Do you sit in silence and imagine yourself doing it? Do you meditate? Or exactly what do you do?
I can’t admit that I’ve mastered this. But one thing I‘ve found helpful is releasing the energy that continually creeps up in my heart. I wish I had the words to explain the exact process I use to do this, but even though I’m a writer, I’m lost for words.
All I can say is, I self-reassure myself, and tell myself that I let it go. That I’ve released the energy and that I’m ready for the new possibilities that life has to offer.
Honestly, just like forgiving yourself, this is probably the hardest thing I’m learning to master, and as the new month start, I hope to master it fully.
But before then, I need to forgive myself, because that’s the only way I will learn to let go.
How to forgive yourself?
This is the exact process I plan to use, and I’ll be back here in a month to share my results with you.
1. Face your fears
Facing your flaws, your mistakes and your doubts is probably going to be the hardest part, but it’s also an essential part. If I admit I have the flaws, then I admit there is much work to do. If I bury the feelings and emotions, then I slowly continue to dig my grave. And this year, 2020, I’m uncovering all graves and ‘taking the bull by its horns.
So where will I start:
“Sherry, I forgive you for…”
I will give this sentence a different ending each hour, every day for the next 30 days until I’m used to hearing my thoughts and my voice speak of the weakness that threatens to cripple me. Each day I will persist until that ‘thing’ doesn’t come up anymore.
Action is the fuel that drives change, and some of the things you need to forgive yourself for may need you to act. For instance, I’ve realized I’m an emotional eater, and this has done nothing good for my health. When I’m bored, I eat. When I’m stressed, I eat. When I’m happy, I eat. When I’m angry, sad, scared… It doesn’t matter what; I eat. You can guess I have fat in all the wrong places, and to get it off, I must act. I must stop eating because I feel something, and instead, adopt a new routine while maintaining the same cue and reward.
I’m not going to complicate things by completely cutting curbs and joining this or that diet. I’m only going to eat because I’m hungry and reverse engineer how I serve food. Instead of starting with carbs, I will start with veggies. Then, I’ll run. Not for long, or to kill myself working out, no. I’ll just run as long as I can.
This may seem like it’s counterproductive, but hear me out. Every human being has a basic need to help others, and when you are fighting to forgive yourself like I am, the best place to start is always in service. I’m a writer, and the best form of service I can think of right now is to show someone or two people the ropes. Also, I will help a couple of kids, at least ten years and below with their school compositions, and if any other opportunity to serve comes up, I’ll take it without hesitating.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision, so as I stand in front of this mirror, I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I know I must fight with my thoughts, and be willing every single day to crucify the flesh and continue with this journey. If you’ve had a strategy that worked for you, I’d love to hear it in the comment section.