Similar to the words of Blake, I’d say that it is easier to forgive a friend than it is to forgive yourself because a lack of self-forgiveness is something I often see, to varying degrees, in coaching. These people are so hard on themselves. The way they can get stuck into themselves is literally a form of self-abuse.
If you’re one of those people who speak abusively to yourself, then ask: If I saw someone talking so abusively to one of the people in my life that I really care about, how would I react? The response is usually the same: ‘I wouldn’t like it and I probably wouldn’t tolerate it’.
For what reason do you allow yourself to be spoken to like that?
We tend not to tolerate abuse of others. When the abuse is self-inflicted however, the boxing gloves are off.
The next best question to ask yourself when you’re doing a bit (or a lot) of self-abuse is:
What do I need to forgive myself for?
In just this past week I had to ask myself this question. I had frustration when I didn’t get an outcome I was hoping for and knowing that I hadn’t been at my best. I acknowledged the things I needed to forgive myself for, offered that forgiveness and then let it go.
This doesn’t mean I let go of the lesson or that I don’t endeavour to better next time. I do take on the lesson and I do think about how I can improve. Reflection on these things will serve to move me forward.
Engaging in any form of self-abuse however serves no productive purpose. It stagnates mental growth and it has quite a negative impact on your body. Self-abuse, even in the form of thoughts, can flood the body with stress hormones, raising blood pressure and impairing your immune effectiveness.
Forgiving yourself, in the same what that you would forgive another, has a reverse reaction on the body. Your blood pressure will be lowered and your heart rate and levels of stress hormones lessen. It is a true gift to yourself.
Doing self-forgiveness can take a good level of self-awareness. Resentments can often serve as a useful way of distracting ourselves from making real changes and improvements in our lives. As per last week’s article, if you’re spending a lot of time in self-abuse, it’s useful to ask ‘What is my payoff for spending time in self-abuse? What do I get to avoid?’
That doesn’t mean it is always easy to do. True forgiveness lies in being able to view yourself with compassion and love and that can take practice.
Having fun with it often helps too. If you know you’re doing a lot of mental self-abuse, you may also be taking yourself too seriously. If I reflect on things that I’ve been beating myself up for, it’s usually also not that hard to poke fun at myself for the way I’ve been behaving (because the behaviour is usually not that rational, and therefore it’s not that much of a stretch to view it as a little rediculous). I have a couple of key friends that I can enroll to assist me in having a good laugh at my behaviour. The laughing is often the key thing that allows forgiveness, love and letting go.