I was talking a little while back to a friend who felt he had been wronged – in a minor way by me and in a major way by someone else. He said that what been done to him was unforgiveable. I disagreed.
I then asked him what he hadn’t forgiven himself for ... and I think that was really the heart of the matter. When he told me, I said I also didn’t think that that was unforgiveable, and we talked about what it would take to forgive himself.
I reflected on this a bit more, and sent him an email. Here’s what I wrote:
So I reckon being able to forgive yourself and others is one of the most powerful and profound things you do in your lifetime.
I tell Scarlett there is nothing she could do that would stop me loving her. And it’s true. In other words, there is nothing that I would not forgive.
For me forgiveness means you stop making them (or yourself) wrong.
Some thoughts that might be useful on this front are:
- The belief that something isn't forgivable isn't true or useful.
- Forgiveness isn't a once-off thing. So forgiving yourself won't take a lifetime. It takes an instant. It’s a decision. But you will probably have to do it again and again and again ... until maybe, eventually, you won't have to.
- Everyone is doing their best from their current state of consciousness. (Depak Chopra)
- There is a payoff for not forgiving yourself or someone else. It’s worth identifying what that is.
- There is nothing you could have done differently. It couldn't have played out any other way.
- Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (Ian Maclaren).
Love to hear your reflections on this - either by email or even better in person over a coffee or a beer. "
Forgiveness isn’t easy. And forgiving yourself might be harder still. But as I said to my friend, it’s powerful and profound.
If you are playing along at home, pick one person who has wronged you and forgive them. And for bonus points, find something that you haven’t forgiven yourself for, and forgive yourself for that.