Editor’s Note: Well+Good, a website launched in 2010, bills itself as “the premier lifestyle and news publication devoted to the wellness scene.” Here are excerpts from its March 12, 2018 article on how to forgive yourself, let go of the past, and create a more meaningful feature.
You messed up big-time. You feel awful and you want to make things right with the person you’ve hurt. You’ve finally worked up the courage to say, from the bottom of your heart, that you’re deeply sorry. But—surprise!—they don’t want to hear it. For them, the damage is done and their anger towards you is too strong for any kind of forgiveness.
It can be devastating for an apology to be denied, but another person’s forgiveness of you and your actions doesn’t have to determine how you continue to treat others—and, ultimately, yourself. Of course, that’s no easy task for many, considering we’re infinitely harder on ourselves than anyone else.
“I forgive” really is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. Aly Semigran, Well+Good
“When we break our own standards, a lot of times we won’t let ourselves ‘off the hook,’ so to speak,” says Robert Enright, PhD, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and author of Forgiveness Is a Choice. “Self-forgiveness is not a free pass to keep up the nonsense. It’s to restore your humanity to yourself, as you correct [the damage you’ve done].”
Okay, but how?
Apologize without expectations
Even if you don’t think the hurt party will forgive you, Enright says that apologizing is the right thing to do, and it’s an important step in the process of self-forgiveness. “Seeking forgiveness and forgiving yourself go hand in hand,” proclaims Enright.
Make an effort to right your wrongs
You should also make an effort to right your wrongs—for instance, paying your roommate back if you’ve been sneaking money from her wallet. “You can set yourself free knowing you’ve done the best you can,” says Enright. “You can get rid of the resentment towards yourself, understanding that you are a human being, and try to see you’re a person beyond what you’ve done. You’re more than that action.”
Dive deep into your emotions with a therapist, friend, or journaling
The cycle of guilt and self-loathing is far too easy a place to get stuck, sometimes for a very long time. And it can have a serious impact on your health—when you stay trapped in a shame loop, it can lead to issues such as sleeplessness, depression, self-medication, and lack of proper nutrition and/or exercise. (Not to mention it’s a blow to your gut health.)
Enright suggests those on a journey of self-forgiveness try things such as going to a respected therapist, seeking out a friend or confidante, trying meditation or mindfulness, or journaling to deal with ongoing emotions and thoughts.
Don’t get attached to the outcome
While you’re working to forgive yourself, it’s important not to get stuck on the other person’s reaction to you. “Your forgiving yourself should never be [contingent on] what the other person does or says,” Enright says. “It’s the same thing with forgiving another: If I want to forgive another, but I have to wait for their apology, then I’m still trapped in that resentment.”
You don’t have to sabotage your own happiness when you do something terrible. Learn to forgive yourself.
Read the entire article: How to Forgive Yourself for a Big Mistake
Read other forgiveness articles on Well+Good:
- THE TWO MOST-EMPOWERING WORDS YOU CAN ADD TO YOUR VOCABULARY
- HOW PRACTICING FORGIVENESS À LA TAYLOR SWIFT AND KATY PERRY CAN BENEFIT YOUR WELL-BEING
- TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS, PRACTICE THE F-WORD: FORGIVENESS
What is the difference between forgiveness and acceptance and does the first one truly have an impact on the angry feelings? What is the mechanism that help us forgive someone who made us angry? Thank you.
So frequently I hear this: “Forgiveness is for you, the one who was injured.”
I think this actually can be a distortion of what forgiveness is. We need to make a distinction between:
- the end point or goal of forgiveness, and
- a consequence of forgiving.
These are different. The goal is that to which forgiveness actually points. Given that forgiveness is a moral virtue, it is concerned about goodness toward others. Justice as a moral virtue is not primarily for the self but for all with whom you come into contact directly or indirectly. Patience is directed toward those who are moving slower than you would like. Yes, one can be fair or just to the self and patient toward the self, but these are not the primary goals of either virtue. They are outwardly directed to others. It is the same with forgiveness because, like justice and patience, it too is a moral virtue. The end point of forgiving is to reach out in goodness directly toward the one or ones who have been unfair to you.
Yes, there is such a thing as self-forgiveness, but notice that the wording is intended to expressly direct the attention toward the self. In the case of forgiving as it typically is used, the word “self” is not included.
A consequence of forgiving, shown frequently by our research, is that as a person extends goodness toward offending others, then the one who forgives experiences considerable emotional relief. Excessive anger, anxiety, and depression all can go down in the one who genuinely forgives.
These emotional-health consequences, while very positive and desirable, are not the ultimate goal of engaging in the moral virtue of forgiving. If it were, then this would be the goal for all of the moral virtues and such practice likely would degenerate into self-serving activities and therefore not be virtuous at all.
Is forgiving for the forgiver? No, this is not its goal. Is a consequence of forgiving emotional relief for the forgiver? Yes. And this distinction between goal and consequence makes all the difference in understanding what forgiveness is and what it can accomplish within the self.
On an average night, 60 million Americans cannot sleep. If you are one of them, here’s help.
by Jane Walsh
In today’s overworked and overstimulated world, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. In fact, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Missing the recommended seven hours a night puts people at higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.
The causes of poor sleep are multifaceted ranging from poor sleep hygiene to mental health issues — including, stress, anger, and resentment. Forgiveness therefore plays a crucial role in restoring health and happiness and getting a full night’s sleep.
Main causes of poor sleep
Poor sleep is often the result of poor sleep hygiene: healthy habits necessary for deep, restful sleep and optimal alertness during the day. Good sleep hygiene can include getting enough exercise and sunlight during the day, unwinding in the evening, and creating a peaceful and comfortable atmosphere in your bedroom. Additionally, shift work can cause frequent sleep disruption and fatigue. In this case, it’s essential to practice good sleep hygiene and stick to a sleep schedule that works for you.
Moreover, insomnia and poor sleep are frequently caused by psychological issues, such as, stress, resentment, holding grudges, and the desire for revenge. When you harbour these negative feelings, your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, you’re too stressed, angry, and fired up to sleep.
The power of forgiveness for sleep
Whether you’ve fallen out with your other half or are harboring a long-term grudge against a relative, conflict and resentment can have a negative impact on your health — and consequently your sleep. Taking steps toward forgiveness can transform your health — it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart attack — and will allow you to fall asleep easier for longer periods of time.
Forgiveness is such a positive thing for health largely due to its power to decrease or eradicate those negative feelings of tension, anger, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. When you choose to forgive, you let go of hostility, anger, and ideas of revenge surrounding past events. As a result, your body is allowed to heal. Stress hormones decrease and feel-good endorphins are better able to flood the body.
Ultimately, feeling resentful is a choice — one that negatively impacts your physical, emotional, and mental health. When you choose to forgive, your whole quality of life will improve. When your head hits the pillow, there’ll be no more mental barriers separating you from sleep.
About the author:
Jane Walsh is a freelance writer whose articles cover a range of topics that can only be described as diverse. Here are a few examples of her work:
“Cracking Down On Boiler Room Fraud – Self Defense Tactics To Fight Off The Crooks” Forbes, Sept 9, 2017
“The DIY Generation Embraces Technology-Based Learning” Oct. 6, 2017
After spending more than a decade working as an emergency nurse and first-responder, and after starting a family, Jane took a step back and now spends her time working as a freelance content manager and writer. You can reach her at Jane.Walsh.Writer@gmail.com.