Now that we are in full swing of the Lenten season, what have you released for this time? Are you spending your energy staying away from chocolate or sugar? Or have you decided to release something that will make even more of a difference to your Soul? Even if you have no investment in the traditional Lenten season, how about ditching guilt and resentment towards yourself for a while?
It is so much easier to forgive other people, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t have to live with those people (not the easy ones to forgive, anyway), so why should we hold a grudge against them? But our own selves? We have to see our own thinking and behavior every single day! That starts building up after a while. And if we find out we have been wrong? Watch out! We pull that guilt hammer out and start hitting ourselves with it so quickly!
How do we release these regrets and resentments directed at oursleves?
First of all, find out what you need to forgive about yourself. Acknowledge it, understand it, label it. This helps us have something more concrete to release rather than it being an abstract, generalized ideal. For example, seeing times when I have been impatient with others over time is much easier to forgive than trying to forgive myself for being a “bad person” over all. “Bad person” doesn’t teach me anything, nor does it give me new choices for my behavior. Impatience, on the other hand, I can grasp, and it has the alternative of being patient.
Secondly, speaking of patience, be patient as you transition from the old behavior that you are releasing to the new behavior. You might have heard the saying, “A habit wasn’t created over night,” meaning that it won’t be changed overnight either. You have acknowledged, understood and labeled your behavior, now let yourself practice the new behavior, with a gentle and wide learning curve.
Finally, during this transition, add energy to the positive choices you make, and quickly pass by the times you fall into the old behaviors. Yes, see that you missed your desired mark, but move on quickly! Don’t let that old hammer have time to resume its flagellating! Take time to feel gratitude toward yourself for your new behavior.
Forgiveness is not just about stating that we are suddenly just peachy about ourselves. It is about making changes, with compassion, and moving into a new way of being with ourselves. Enjoy your chocolate, and give up the guilt!
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.