The Importance of Forgiving Not Only Others, But Also Yourself

The Importance of Forgiving Not Only Others, But Also Yourself

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. " -Desiderata

The above is an excerpt from one of my favorite poems in the world, "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann. A copy of it from my mother came into my possession about two summers ago, while going through storage in my grandma's garage. I immediately fell in love with the meaning, and often find myself remembering certain stanzas which guide me through times of trial, uncertainty, doubt, fear, and the like. I find this one to be most empowering because it is so incredibly humbling, and reminds me that even in such a big world, we all have a pivotal role in recognizing others' importance as well as our own.

In accordance with this, it also involves helping both parties in difficult times and reminding them that we are not our mistakes. It's human nature to stumble and make a few bad calls here and there. They may not always be excusable, but from what I've seen around me and in my experience, they are almost always forgivable. The words, "I forgive you" aren't hard to say, but it's more of the mental power of choosing to let that hurt go.

It takes strength and character, no doubt about it. Whenever I've had to let things go, be the bigger person, and forgive another, I have often found myself falling back on the discipline I was raised with and still continue to embrace, even when I'm not at home. Yet, while this is easier to do in a situation involving someone else, it's not quite as helpful when involving ourselves. We are our biggest critics, even more so than the people who raised us.

There can be a number of reasons why forgiving yourself is difficult. It could have a lot to do the severity of the mistake, and the people it brought offense to. It could also be a bad reflection on that person's moral character and could be considered, in their mind, a betrayal to everything they were raised to be and the right ways of how to walk through life in this world we live in. Whatever it is, It typically brings us a lot of shame and fear that we've disappointed the people that we love most.

But, no matter what, we all deserve love, and self-love cannot be excluded from that. The world doesn't expect us to be perfect, but all that anyone can ask of us, and we of ourselves, is to just be better than the person we were yesterday. If and when you find yourself stuck, it's your own responsibility to get yourself out of that rut and make positive, proactive changes to our lives with those newfound skills and life lessons.

When I was younger, I remember when I would get so angry and embarrassed from some mistake I made, stomping up to my room, slamming the door, and then sliding down onto the cold, wooden floor, tears streaming down my face and the same message playing in my mind playing on repeat, like a broken record, "How could anyone love me now?" I truly felt unloved in those times, but I had to remember that there were more positive forces that did love me than the one voice inside my head telling me that it wasn't possible.

Back then, I would only forgive myself after it was proven that I could be forgiven by someone else. But now, as someone much older with more experience, it continues to be made clear to me that if you know you deserve forgiveness, but not by someone else, give it to yourself. Do it because you deserve it. You deserve that peace, in order to go forward in life, build a bit of a thicker skin (something that is still hard for me), and remember that only you are responsible for whether you go forward or backward in life, and that no one is ever in charge of your actions or behavior.

On the previous note, the answer should always be to go forward. There are too many good things waiting out there to be grasped, you only have to reach. You don't have to punish yourself forever, you need only remember the lesson forever. You are not your mistakes, and your greater purpose on this planet exceeds far past those temporary setbacks. Again, you have a right to be here. Don't let that be taken away by the shackles of your guilt and fear. Live wisely, and live resiliently. Nothing can keep you down.

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