“Believing the lie that you are less than you are must be seen and resisted.”
Too often when I work with people in Forgiveness Therapy, I see a familiar pattern. First, the person has been treated badly by others. If this has been severe or has occurred over a long period of time, then the person begins slowly to incorporate the other’s views into the self. Eventually, this can become so entrenched inside of people that this lie about who they are becomes part of their identity. Once it is part of their identity, then it is hard to change. In fact, people can become resistant to change because, after all, this is their identity. It is who they think they are. They would rather have a broken identity than to set out on a course of change that is unknown and scary. Staying with brokenness is easier sometimes than confronting the anxiety of transformation.
Here is how to get started in transforming your self-esteem after you have been treated badly by others:
2) Stand further in the truth: “Even though this person may have a bad view of me, I refuse to share that view of myself with this person.” Resist the lie.
3) As you stand in the truth, be aware of your strength in doing so: “I am enduring what I did not deserve. I am stronger than I thought.”
4) Commit to doing no harm to the one who harmed you. As you do that, reflect on who you are: “I am someone who can endure pain and not return pain to the other.”
5) Finally, conclude in the truth: “I will not be defined by the injustices against me. I am more than this. I am someone who endures pain and is a conduit for good to others.”
Who are you now?
Posted in Psychology Today May 09, 2017
When you self-forgive, you are practicing the virtue of mercy toward yourself. And this next point is very important: You continually extend virtues toward yourself, such as being fair to yourself (the virtue of justice), taking care of yourself (the virtues of kindness and wisdom), and being patient with yourself when you are learning new things in life. If you can practice all of these virtues toward yourself, why would anyone want to bar you from the most important of the moral virtues: loving yourself in the face of disappointment, disapproval, and in extreme cases, self-hatred?
Enright, Robert (2015-09-28). 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) (p. 181). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
When you self-forgive you are struggling to love yourself when you are not feeling lovable because of your actions. You are offering to yourself what you offer to others who have hurt you: a sense that you have inherent worth, despite your actions, that you are more than your actions, that you can and should honor yourself as a person even if you are imperfect, and that you did wrong and need to correct that wrong done to other people.
In self-forgiveness you never (as far as I have ever seen) offend yourself alone. You also offend others and so part of self-forgiveness is to deliberately engage in seeking forgiveness from those others and righting the wrongs (as best you can under the circumstances) that you did toward others. Thus, we have two differences between forgiving others and forgiving the self. In the latter, you seek forgiveness from those hurt by your actions and you strive for justice toward them.
I was talking recently with someone who works with caretakers of those who are ill. The insight from the conversation is this: Many caretakers have a sense that they did not do enough. They need to forgive themselves. Self-forgiveness implies that you have broken a moral standard; you have offended yourself and perhaps others.
I am not so sure that self-forgiveness is the appropriate response in many of these situations, where the caretaker feels guilty about not doing enough. I say this because we always can do more…..and more…..and more. When is it sufficient to say, “I have tried hard. I have done my best as an imperfect person. It is time to accept my limitations”?
If we move too quickly to self-forgiveness, then we are not giving ourselves sufficient time to ask this: Maybe I have false guilt here. Maybe I was expecting the person whom I am serving to get much better and that did not happen. Maybe I am tying my efforts to the other’s biological challenges, with the incorrect view that I have not done enough if the other does not get better. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, people do not become physically healthy. Sometimes the other does pass away.
It seems to me that many people, who do courageous care-taking of others, need to see this and not self-forgive, but instead challenge their own view that their care-taking was not enough.
Yes, at times, people missed an opportunity to serve well. At these times self-forgiveness is appropriate. Yet, I think this is more prevalent: At even more times, people have done the best they can. The healthy response then is to humbly accept one’s limitations, refrain from self-forgiving, and to say, “I have done enough. It is sufficient.”