My own early efforts at forgiveness didn’t work very well.
I could forgive, but I couldn’t forget.
Deep down I knew that forgiveness must be better than that. Over time, I gradually changed my mind about forgiveness in a way that you might not expect. Instead of focusing on forgiving others, I focused on forgiving me.
Eventually I came to realize that forgiveness is a decision you make to have a loving relationship with yourself.
Why Is Self-Forgiveness So Powerful?
Self-forgiveness is powerful because it’s about healing the basic fear underlying to many of our daily conflicts: the belief that “I am not loveable.”
This basic fear—not being worthy of love—is the primary cause of all the pain you experience in your relationships with parents, friends, lovers, and children.
The simple thing is: if you could forgive this basic fear—that you ever believed that you were unworthy of receiving love—you wouldn’t be hurt by anyone ever again, nor would you cause any pain to others.
The first time you say, “I forgive myself for believing I am unloveable,” it feels like nothing real has happened. The truth is, however, you have taken the first step to freeing your-self from a mind-set of fear and guilt that blocks your best efforts to love and be loved. It chips a tiny bit away from the burden of guilt that you carry on your shoulders.
It’s so important to learn to heal internal guilt, because guilt is a block to loving yourself and others. It also inherently denies your right to any forgiveness—from yourself, from anyone.
Name Your Guilt
One of the first ways to begin healing with self-forgiveness is to identify the source of your guilt.
Essentially, there are two types of guilt.
Type 1: Conscience Guilt
One is the “conscience guilt” you feel when you are unloving, unkind, or hurtful to someone. Your guilty conscience tells you that you have done something wrong. Your unloving actions cause you to feel unloveable.
Type 2: Identity Guilt
The other type of guilt is “identity guilt,” which is what you feel when you believe the fear “I am un-loveable.” This identity guilt robs you of the memory of who you truly are, and what love is.
When guilt and fear team up with judgment, you are at the mercy of an unholy trinity that causes you to believe “There is something wrong with me.” When you identify with this guilty belief, you create an ego self-image that believes it isn’t worthy of true love.
Paradoxically, your ego encourages you to search for love, but it also tells you to hide from it when it approaches.
With identity guilt, you are afraid that if love finds you, it will see something unloveable. In this insane nightmare, the roles are reversed; love is the judge, and fear and guilt are your protectors. Even your ego can see that its best thinking can’t help you now. Forgiveness is an angel you pray to when you need a miracle to save you.
How Forgiveness Heals
Forgiveness is so powerful, because it invites you to change your mind about yourself. It encourages you to accept that although the ego feels guilty as hell, there is nothing wrong with the essence of who you are.
Yes, you may have made mistakes in the past, but you are not your mistakes. Yes, you may be suffering from psychology, but you are not your thoughts. Yes, your personality may be neurotic and auditioning for a part in High Anxiety, but you are not your personality. Yes, your mother was a martyr and your father failed his emotional intelligence exam (and the re-test too), but that has nothing to do with who you really are.
Forgiveness reminds you that nothing in the universe thinks there is anything wrong with you. God is unconditional love, and so there is no karma between you and God.
Heaven knows who you are, and the angels have not once fallen for your dreams of sin and guilt.
The sun and the moon pour their light on you without any hesitation.
Mother Earth and all her plants and trees give life to you without a trace of judgment.
The birds and squirrels in the trees have never said a bad word about you.
The dolphins and whales sing their songs of love to you and condemn you not.
Guilt is an invention of egos and of human psychology. It exists nowhere else in the universe. Forgiveness reminds you of this, and also of your loving nature.
Each time you affirm “I forgive myself for believing I am un-loveable,” you are healing the pain caused by the guilty self-image you made. This is a good thing for you, for everyone.