We’ve been taught from a young age to forgive others. But no one ever guides us through the wisdom and healing that self forgiveness can bring. This article stresses the importance of self forgiveness for health, success and spiritual growth.

“Tell your sister you forgive her, go on…” my parents would say to me. And with much resistance, I would comply.

“Fine, I forgive you.”

This is a typical story about how we learn to forgive. In our society, forgiveness is just words, words meant to smooth the surface of a well of emotions so that life can go on without confronting real issues and feelings. It gives us an avenue to hide those unacceptable thoughts that are brewing in our minds. And it teaches us several things:

Anger is wrong.
You are not supposed to talk about how you feel.
You must hide your emotions.
You are expected to lie about your feelings.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean anything.

Most of us grew up really believing that forgiveness is just a word, that you say it just to get along and avoid confrontation. Even though we forgive people on the surface, we hold anger, resentment and hurt on the inside, and we replay old events like videotapes in our minds.

Forgiving others is one thing, and is covered in our next article “The Healing Power of Forgiveness.” Forgiving yourself is quite another, and many times more difficult than forgiving others.

Forgiveness of self goes against many beliefs that you may have picked up as a child. Some of these may be:

Serve others before serving yourself.
Putting yourself first is selfish and egotistical.
I’m a bad boy/bad girl.
I’m a burden.
Forgiving means giving up.

Take a moment and clear your head. On a scale of 1 – 10, ten being high, how much do you love yourself? How much do you deserve to be loved? Most people will rate themselves as less than a 10 on both counts. Imagine, as you walk down the street, most of the people that you run into don’t love themselves.

Is that the way you want to live your life? Punishing yourself? Not liking who you are, or feeling that you don’t deserve? Many people develop health issues because of hidden feelings of self punishment and feeling like they don’t deserve. The subconscious mind holds and protects your belief system. Your beliefs create your thoughts, your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings create your responses.

If you believe that you are bad and must be punished, your subconscious mind will create the situations for that to manifest. Maybe you will get into an accident, maybe people will betray you, or maybe you will get sick. All these are just symptoms of an inner belief that is not serving you. In fact it is hurting you.

Now, for some this may sound a bit out there. You may be thinking “I have an inner mind that’s trying to hurt me?” It’s not what it seems. The subconscious mind forms your inner programming when you are a child – it’s job is to take in all the information and insert it somewhere in your belief system so that you are “fully programmed” by 7 or 8 years old. This part of your mind does not discern between positive or negative, it just absorbs information from your parents, your teachers, pastor, friends, even TV. That, in turn, becomes your program, running in the background.

If your programming says that you are bad, or need to be punished, can you see that this might cause you to be resistant to forgiving yourself? Take a moment to write down what some of your beliefs might be – the ones that might not be serving you.

Starting the forgiveness process:

You have done things to hurt yourself and others.
So has everyone else in the world.
Realize that you have always, unconsciously, run off your inner programming.
So has everyone else in the world.
Based on that programming, you have always done the best you could.
So has everyone else in the world.
Every baby born in this life deserves to be loved.
You deserve to be loved.
You have punished yourself long enough – even prisoners go free after serving their time.

Definition of Forgiveness:

Forgiveness is more than just a word, it is a feeling, an emotion much like love.
Forgiveness does not mean to forget.
Forgiveness does not excuse what was done, things may still have to be put right.
Forgiveness does not give permission to hurt someone else or myself again.
Forgiveness does not mean I have to tell anybody.

Forgiveness is a sign of strength and courage.
Forgiveness allows me to regain my control and personal power.
Forgiveness means I no longer allow myself to think negatively about myself or an event.
Forgiveness dissolves blame.
Forgiveness heals all hurts and illness, nourishes hungers, strengthens weaknesses.
Forgiveness neutralizes feelings and emotions.
Forgiveness sets me free.

Forgiveness is the greatest healer – it clears the debris of your past so that your body, mind and spirit can be balanced. Anger, resentment and hurt all create huge imbalances that manifest as blocks in your life, health, relationships, success and more. Shame, guilt and fear are released though this process.

Forgiveness is a choice. Here you are at the crossroads of your life. Do you want things to continue on as they have in the past? Or are you ready for things to change? Forgiving yourself is the first step to miracles. Are you ready?

Then close your eyes…imagine, or pretend if you must, that you can feel this feeling. Let your life pass before your eyes – all the things you did to others, all that you have done to yourself. Forgive yourself for everything you can – maybe you can do it all at once, maybe you can’t. Maybe you need to forgive yourself for one thing a day, the important thing is to start. Find one thing that you can forgive yourself for, and choose to do it.

My client, Dani (not her real name), had been sexually abused as a child. Not only did she hate her abuser, she hated herself for being in a situation where this could happen to her. She was ashamed, embarrassed, and fearful that there might have even been a part of her that enjoyed it. Because she was afraid and ashamed, she never told anyone and she felt horribly guilty that someone else might suffer because she was silent. Dani was very resistant to the thought of forgiving herself because that self blame and self hatred had become part of her definition of who she was. She had to step back and separate herself from the blame and the guilt, and realize that even if she had brought this on herself, she could learn from the situation and use the learning as a positive experience. She chose to forgive herself and by doing so, she felt empowered and inspired to volunteer one day a week at a women’s shelter, giving encouragement and support to others who had suffered shame and guilt the same way she had. With additional coaching, Dani feels free from the past and can talk about it as just a past experience, not an emotional, traumatic story.

Separate yourself from the things you did – you are not those things. You caused them to happen, either involuntarily or on purpose. But that is not who you are. It is what you have done. Who you are is underneath all the things you have done, it’s underneath all the pain you have caused, for yourself and for others. Those things are just results. Step back and imagine looking at your life from a distance. Would a stranger condemn you forever for what you have done? Would God not forgive you? Ask yourself for forgiveness, then grant it. You have the power.

Author's Bio: 

Tracey Burchard is a Certified Hypnotist, Life Coach and Stress Management Consultant and offers personal, phone and corporate services. Tracey has helped hundreds of clients benefit from the awesome power of forgiveness, and to heal themselves from the issues resulting from unforgiveness. She has authored and recorded a line of Hypnosis/Guided Visualization CDs and MP3s and offers them for sale on her website at www.bodymindhypnosis.com.