Forgiveness is Hard.
I’ve come far in my life: I was a nerdy, super shy kid.
And now I’m a nerdy, introverted but not shy adult.
But I love the shit out of myself!
No, I’m not a narcissist. I’m not arrogant nor do I think myself above other people. But I’ve learned to be very kind to myself over the years.
I didn’t glide myself here! I fought for every small step! I wasn’t inherently smart: I learned one thing at a time. But I learned forgiveness early.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is giving loving-kindness to someone who did wrong. It could be a moral wrong (unjustly firing someone or cheating on a spouse) or ethic wrong (scraping linked in for data when you know it it’s good) or a religious wrong (yup, not going here).
But the first question I always think is: Should I always forgive someone?
This is a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years. In many different ways. I always envision someone like the Dalai Llama: he could forgive anyone, right?
Could I be that person? If someone murdered someone I knew, would I still give unconditional forgiveness?
Based on asking these type of questions, I decided on this kind of forgiveness:
I will always forgive if the party shows a willingness to change the behavior that caused ill.
Forgiveness with Purpose
Take a moment and ponder with me:
How many times do you think you will make a mistake in life?
Or said another way: how many times do you intend to learn new skills in life? This is because new skills are often associated with some mistakes or failure.
I don’t care how good you think you are: it’s going to happen. It’s nothing to be afraid of.
But let’s say you’re not convinced fear is your friend. Instead, every time you mess up you blame yourself like, “Get it together Ed! Stop being an idiot!“
I understand this negative self talk because I had it for many years. Shame can only live in darkness. You have two choices.
First, What if instead you chose to hug yourself and say, “Ed, I know it feels bad to miss the train and be late to work, but I know you’ll get it next time!” and use that opportunity to SET YOUR INTENTION!
Or second, if you are vulnerable with a friend or family member they can play this role for you. Often we magnify our own thoughts in our heads and sharing those thoughts not only strengthens a relationship but gives you more confidence as well.
This works for everything.
Examples of how I’ve used it before:
I failed a class in R: I accepted it was because I was new at it and imagined things I could do to get better at coding.
I got into Northwest University for grad school – AFTER they sent me a letter I was rejected and enrolled at Southern Methodist University: I told myself it was out of my control and hugged myself thinking it was adventurous to try (this was my number one pick for Data Science School).
I applied to 12 different united grocery stores to try to get a job as a sixteen year old — they all rejected me: I told my dad my frustration and sadness and stress and he told me I was sixteen! And not to worry about it, it would work itself out.
I accidentally sent an email 63,000 times to the president of my company: I promised myself to have a new checklist and hugged myself over the hilarity of it all. When I told the president, he laughed the hardest of all.
Is Forgiving Yourself Silly? Corny?
Well Yes. But do you like being mad or bitter at yourself?
Did you know your brain will forget painful things over time, but remember positive feelings? That’s what it naturally does.
Did you know by being silly it’s impossible to take yourself too serious? Our brain only feels one emotion at a time. Also, if you start to smile at the silliness of hugging yourself, those endorphins will start flowing!
These are simple biohacks I take as an encouragement for loving myself and empowering forgiveness.
I would encourage you to try it: If a little loving-kindness for yourself and increase your happinness for 20% of your lifespan, why not give it a try?
- Write down a time where you really felt mad at yourself. How long were you mad/upset? Have you forgiven yourself?
- Now visualize what forgiving yourself might look like. Do you have any strong objections? Feel free to write your thoughts out.
- If you can’t imagine forgiving yourself, imagine the most loving person you know hugging you and forgiving you. Sometimes we have to use our faith in other people if we haven’t built faith in ourselves. Don’t be afraid!