Showing posts with label Self-Forgiveness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self-Forgiveness. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2011

Self-Forgiveness Is Key to a Strong Self-Image

When someone else inflicts physical or emotional pain on you, you may react in a variety of ways: anger, lashing out, silence, or withdrawal. If you’re not careful, a deep-seated resentment can take hold. And when that happens, your relationship suffers a potentially devastating blow.

The secret to moving past the pain is forgiveness, recognizing that the other person is fallible and deserves to have another chance.

Unfortunately, we often don’t treat ourselves with the same compassion when we make mistakes or fall short of who we want to be. If you’re not careful, you can hold a lifetime grudge against yourself that keeps you from achieving your potential.

It’s not always easy to detect when you’re doing this, but here’s one thing you can start doing now: Monitor your thoughts and self-talk.

Ever watch a football game on TV and get tired of them re-running the same play while the officials are reviewing the call? They show the play from different angles, and the announcers declare what the officials should decide before the final judgment is announced. Sometimes I want to shout, “Enough already!”

Actually, that’s a pretty good phrase to use on yourself if you find that you’re mentally replaying a scene from your own life ad nauseam.

Let’s say you’ve said something hurtful to someone you care about, and you wish you could take the words back…

Or you didn’t stand up for yourself when another person criticized you in front of others…

Or you wanted to make a positive impression on an individual or a group but didn’t come across the way you wanted to.

The list could go on, because it’s easy to identify situations where you didn’t perform the way you wanted to.

You could expend a lot of time and energy thinking about what happened and berating yourself for not living up to your personal ideal standards. But doing that only serves to damage your self-image, and you don’t learn anything from the experience.

So what’s the alternative?

Each time you find yourself rehashing an event from your past, ask yourself these Five Magic Questions and write down your answers. This brief activity will help you reflect on what happen, take away the lessons and move on.

1.  What happened? Describe the sequence of events.

2.  Why did it happen that way? Identify what contributed to the outcome.

3.  What were the consequences? Describe the impact of the event.

4.  How would you handle a similar situation in the future? What lessons can you take away that you can apply if this happens again?

5.  What will you do NOW? What is your next step?

We call these “magic” questions because they can transform YOU and the way you see yourself. Maybe your next step is to make amends to another person, or maybe it’s simply to let go and forgive yourself regarding this incident.

Because the simple truth is, you can’t change the past. It’s DONE. What you can change are your thoughts and behavior going forward.

If you stay stuck because you feel bad about things you cannot change, you’ll miss out on the present moments that are unfolding before your eyes. And you won’t even see the opportunities on the road in front of you because your mind and eyes are focused on the rearview mirror.

Take to heart this wisdom from Maxwell Maltz in The New Psycho-Cybernetics:
“You cannot see your future with optimistic eyes if you cannot view your present and past with kind eyes.”  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Regret and Self-Forgiveness

A while back I invested in a home study course that looked promising. Once I had “consumed” the material by writing in the workbook, I couldn’t return it. Of course, if I was considering a return, I should have gone through the DVDs before doing that, to see if the course was as valuable as I expected.

But that’s not what I did. I took notes in the workbook as I went through the DVDs. Ever the optimist…and full of hope for useful information as I dug deeper into the content.

I ended up being disappointed and wishing I hadn’t made the purchase. But now I was stuck with the material.

Over the next several weeks, I rehashed my decision and my actions several times. I was full of regret and self-criticism, asking myself questions like: Why did I write in that workbook? Why didn’t I just go through the DVDs first? 

Have you ever had regret about something you’ve done? Maybe you, too, bought something that you couldn’t return. Or you lashed out at someone you care about. Or you didn’t stay in touch with a family member or friend you promised to. Or you lied to someone who trusted you. The list could be long.

Because we’re not perfect, we going to make decisions and take actions that don’t work out. If only we could take them back…

At times like this, remind yourself of a very important truth:

You cannot change the past!

It really is true that you rob yourself of your present moments if you dwell on past events.

The solution is self-forgiveness. The act of admitting you’re human and every choice you make will not work out makes it possible to let go of past mistakes.

And it’s really important that you do this. It’s not just that these regrets consume precious moments that can never be recovered. You also have to consider the toll such musings take on your mental and emotional health. Your self-esteem and self-confidence can plummet when you’re focused on your mistakes and overlook all the things you do well.

Why not take a few minutes right now to identify the one or two biggest regrets that are still haunting you? Then ask yourself what you need to do to finally let go of them. Maybe you’ll want to make amends to someone else. Or maybe you just need to remind yourself that you’re allowed to be imperfect. You can learn from every experience because you can use those lessons going forward.

You’ll know if you’ve successfully let them go because your mind will be free to think more positive, creative thoughts. And your shoulders will feel lighter from not carrying that burden of regret any longer.