Can Forgiveness be Self Improvement?
I cycle in and out of doing self-improvement exercises. I’ll follow something for a few days or even months before dropping it and evaluating the changes. If it’s a benefit to me, I keep it. I’ve found a lot of things that were just self-delusions, things that makes one feel good in the moment but have no long-lasting benefits. And so I drop those things and I look a little harder at folks who continue to push those things. Have they failed to evaluate its effectiveness? Or has so much been invested that for them to drop it, would crush them to admit they were wrong? Those are the thoughts that go through my mind.
From an early age, I committed myself to readily admit when I am wrong. I found it benefits me most of all as it continues to place me back on the path of Truth. There is everything to gain in admitting when one is wrong and so much more to lose when one refuses to admit the truth of it. It is an aspect I cherish in others. Those who never admit wrong doing travel a darker path in their own lives. I tend to call it willful ignorance.
Have you ever forgiven yourself completely?
The trouble with not loving yourself is that you become your own accuser, jury, and judge. In those eyes, you can never find any peace. Everything, every little thing you’ve done wrong is known and used against you constantly. You become your worst nightmare working to extract every wrong doing through punishment. It’s as if punishment; if enough punishment was doled out, we might become clean again. And we never become clean because we are always doing wrong. We always make mistakes. We always slip. Our self-punisher never sees us rise up again, nor does it see us working hard to stay on the right path. All it sees is our wrongdoing.
That is where I was for many many years. I worked on punishing myself for my wrongdoings. I didn’t have an alternative. I didn’t see a way out. And I was not willing to muzzle the truth to myself. I wasn’t going to lie and say I’m a good person. I wasn’t going to lie to myself like that. What other choices did I have?
Why not forgive yourself? How radical of an idea is that? Forgive myself. Sounds simple, really simple, like too easy kind of simple. It was anything but simple. It turned into a lot of hard work, self-examination, listening to the voice of the accuser, jury, and judge, actively listening to my deepest and darkest parts of myself. And accepting that this is who I was and what I’ve done and what I felt I deserved.
I still resisted forgiveness. I’ve got enough arrogance to think I didn’t need it, that I didn’t need to do it. I had to want it. It was repugnant to attempt to fake it. I had to want to forgive myself. But to do so, I had to admit that I had done wrong to myself, that I had actually done harm.
Seeing myself as someone who needed to be forgiven, seeing myself as someone who had hurt themselves, seeing myself as someone who could be forgiven shattered the power the accuser, jury, and judge had over me. All I had to do was ask, earnest, heartfelt ask myself to be forgiven. And I was, and I did.
From somewhere deep love flowed. Love is what forgiveness comes from. And forgiveness is a demanding task master. My work is not done. Saying ‘I forgive you’ is the beginning, not the end.
to be continued.