Doesn’t cut it. I teach children just saying “Sorry” is not good enough. Yes, you need to apologize, to say you are sorry. But you also need to acknowledge what you did, what happened. Then you need to take responsibility for what happened and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But to move forward whether to begin anew or to build something new requires another step. This step may not only be the hardest but it is the most misunderstood. That step is Forgiveness.
This is misunderstood because we think Forgiveness has something to do with the other person. I don’t need you to forgive me. You really can’t, you know, just like you can’t make me mad. Being mad is a choice I make, a feeling I am having about your behavior or words. Forgiveness is similar…there is no bucket of forgiveness you can pour upon my head. You can’t make me feel forgiven.
The only person who can forgive me is me. The only person forgiveness works for is me. Even if I say, I forgive you your trespasses, what I am really saying is that your trespasses are no longer part of my issue. And if I am the trespasser I need to forgive myself those transgressions. Failure to do so will result in my repeating those things until I learn the lessons contained in those actions.
The mistake many of us make is waiting for the other person to somehow forgive us. If I say I forgive you, what happens? Do the skies open and trumpets blare? I think not. If you forgive me, how does that change anything about me? The answers are obvious and self evident. I must forgive myself first and foremost. In order to effect real change in myself, in order to effect my actions, my words, in order to move forward in my life, I must first forgive myself.
I must forgive myself for taking wrong action, or wrong speech, or wrong thought. I must forgive myself for harming you. I must forgive myself for the desire that led to my wrongs. I must forgive myself.
I can stop being mad at you. I can stop feeling hurt by your words or actions. I can stop feeling that you somehow owe me something. And what I really need to do is forgive myself for feeling that way, for thinking those thoughts, for wanting something that isn’t yours to give.
First forgive yourself. Then forge ahead and find a fundamentally new position. You will be glad you did.
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