Things have certainly quieted down around here since the holidays are over, so it has given me plenty of time to think and reflect. Since Doc and I have been back to work, I can’t help but notice that the same issues has been coming up with some of her patients, and it has to do with forgiveness.
Forgiveness can be a tricky thing sometimes, because it not only means letting go of old grudges, hurt and anger but it can also mean forgiving ourselves. From this dogs perspective, it seems like humans have more problems forgiving themselves than forgiving others. Even after someone has felt remorse, taken responsibility and apologized, many people still don’t feel like they deserve to be forgiven and here in lies the problem. They are stuck in the past because they don’t know how to differentiate one’s self from one’s wrongdoing. Doc and I have a pact. If we do something that hurts the other and we talk things through, we move on, but some people find that difficult.
So what is the best way to let go of guilt and shame? Start by forgiving yourself by practicing self-compassion and acceptance and then work on letting go of labeling yourself as a bad person. We all make mistakes, say things without thinking, do things we later regret. This will take some practice as you have to learn how to talk to yourself in a loving, positive way rather than beating yourself up over your mistakes. It can also be hard if the person you are trying to make amends to is not willing to forgive you. Remember, you can’t control how others will react, you can only offer your sincere apology.
As for those of you that have a hard time forgiving others, don’t get stuck in thinking that if you forgive someone you are letting them off the hook. You can still move on by setting new boundaries with that person.
Whether it is for ourselves or others, forgiveness sets us free. Grudges and guilt can be heavy burdens to carry through life. So lets start the new year by letting go of the past, learning from our mistakes and moving on.
” To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner is you.” Lewis B. Smedes