Key #3 to Happiness – Forgive Yourself!
“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose. For this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
–Mary Pickford, Canadian actress
As Christians, we are taught at an early age to forgive others. We even recite in the Lord’s Prayer, “… we forgive those who trespass against us.” And I am sure that must of us can recall the line from a poem written by English writer Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
We learn that we must also ask God for His forgiveness when we sin or otherwise go against God’s word. 1 John 1:9 (NIV) admonishes us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” But how do we learn to forgive ourselves?
If you are anything like me, you may be your own worst critic. You may spend countless hours beating yourself up tor making a few mistakes in your life. You may obsess over such things as “Why did I make that stupid comment in the business meeting this morning?” or “Why did I take the expressway this morning instead of the local streets? Now I am stuck in all this traffic!” Or you may be agonizing over a misdirected life decision, “Why did i major in Computer Science in college instead of English? I always did enjoy writing. Why didn’t I follow my passion?” Or you may be struggling with other issues like a car accident that turned out to be your fault or a failed marriage that ended in divorce. Looking back on these incidents now, they may seem so trivial, but at the time, the thoughts or decisions may have seemed like the most important issues in the world!
Just remember that God has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Whatever road your life takes or whatever decisions that you are making, it will all work out for the good in the long run. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” As long as you continue to trust God and put him first in your life you will succeed. Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will will direct your paths.”
Don’t forget to continue thanking God for all that He has done for you. Ha is still working through you, even in the most difficult of times. And yes, even when God seems silent, He is still there with you!
So if you are currently working toward a specific goal on life’s journey and what you thought was going to work out several months ago is no longer working out for you, don’t give up! Take some time to regroup. Revise your plans, reshape your goals, and get back in there!
“… a lot of times the world doesn’t put rocks in our way. Instead we put them there ourselves. When we hold on to our mistakes, we’re throwing rocks in our own path… when we detach ourselves from worry and let go of our mistakes, the road always opens up. That’s why if you want to make a commitment to never quitting, one of the first steps is to simply get out of your own way.”
— Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul (with Chris Morrow), in his book, Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success
Don’t waste any more time continuing to be angry with yourself and by all means, forgive yourself for not getting it right this time. Whatever the issue was. Move forward with your life, starting with right now!
What is Self-Forgiveness?
To forgive oneself is not to make excuses for oneself. To forgive ourselves is:
–to pledge to learn from our mistakes;
–to gain a degree of self-control and not repeat them;
–to grow in our capacity for love and peace.
This article may be a helpful resource for you as well, How To Forgive Yourself & Stop Feeling Guilty
The next time you start beating yourself up for doing something wrong, ask yourself the following questions: from personal success coach Lisa Phillips: visit her website here
1. At the time of the event, was it realistic for you to expect yourself to do something different / behave in a different way?
2. Did you have the right people around you at the time that could have helped you?
3. At the time of the event, did you have the information or knowledge you needed to make a better choice?
Forgiving yourself for your limitations is a crucial first step in healing your life. In an unprecedented time of turmoil and stress, most human beings are doing the best they can with the resources, wisdom, and knowledge they have available to them. Yes, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, but eventually you need to get the lesson and move on.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Trying to learn from your mistakes is a very healthy way of dealing with them. A reflection of what you have learned from your mistakes would be a perceptible change in your behavior. Remember that committing a mistake is not a crime, but repeating it, surely is! We learn from our mistakes, as we have to pay a price for them. To err is human and to learn how to avoid the same mistake in the future is also within human capacity.
Encourage Yourself To Move On
Realize that your life is not going to end or stagnate just because of a mistake of yours. Probably, the biggest lesson life teaches us is to move on. Forgive yourself completely and look forward to the future, which is always brighter and full of hope. Languishing in past will not give you an opportunity to time-travel to the bygone times and change things. Disembark yourself from past mistakes and march ahead!
Share your mistakes
Holding things to yourself will make it increasingly difficult to forgive yourself and stop feeling guilty. You can’t afford to keep wallowing in guilt over your wrongdoings. Remember that your mistakes always add to your experience, as life is a continuous learning process. You can always share your mistakes with others and warn them of the consequence that you suffered from. You will also get a chance to vent out your frustration in a more constructive way.
Unburden Your Heart
If you believe that your mistake is too big to be forgiven and keeping it to yourself is killing you, speak up and lift that burden off your heart. Confess your mistake in front of a close friend, whose guidance you trust and value. A guilt-free existence is only possible when your mistakes are not perpetually weighing on your conscience. Pardon yourself by pouring your heart out before someone you know will make you feel better.
Meditation/Reflection: This is your first choice in the healing process. You cannot change the past, but you can own the present moment.
Journaling: Recording your thoughts in a journal is a valuable way of releasing your feelings. Each time you feel guilt during the day, write it down in your journal. You will be able to track when you feel this, and why, which will help you begin to understand your guilt. The same goes for the good feelings you experience. Write down the moments when you feel joy and richness in your life, and you will begin to recognize the things that release that joy.
Atonement: Learn how to consciously make a sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness. You can create your own sacrifice by asking yourself, “What will be my offering?” It could be philanthropy, political activism — something that requires a sacrifice of your time, money or effort. The key is to consciously make that sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness.
Success And Failure – Keys to happiness exercise:
- Ask God for help (ask Jesus into your life if you have not done so already)
- Read “God’s love for us” and “God’s Mercy” every day this week.
- Ask others to pray for you
- Feel free to e-mail us with questions
- Sign up for our e-mail reminder as soon as a new key to happiness is published
For related articles – Check out:
Check out these Five Steps to Forgiving Yourself with Dr. Phil McGraw
May you find true happiness, forgive yourself and may God answer your prayers – Amen!
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