Happy New Year! I have been working with forgiveness recently which comes at a perfect time considering I just wrote an entire blog on this, went to paste it and thought I was saving it. Turns out, I deleted the entire blog, inserted something else, saved that, and lost my entire blog! My stomach sank. You know the feeling? But, I guess that’s perfect for the message I am trying to send. Forgiveness. Right now, I am kicking myself! But here I am with a real-life situation where I must let it go, forgive myself for the mistake, and move forward to round two which is hopefully better than round one!
The New Year is always a time of deep reflection for me. I come to look at my past year, where I’d like to see changes in my life, how I can make life better for myself and others, where I need to work, etc. Five days ago, I began my cleanse with my eating patterns. I am pretty much following the Whole 30 rules (I’m not quite as strict but I have given up gluten and dairy 100 percent). So, I guess I’ll call it 98% Whole 30! I joined a few support forums and upon seeing how harsh some of these people are with others and themselves, I decided this diet sounds like a recipe for eating disasters. People were feeling guilty for eating healthy snacks in between meals! I’m talking things like almonds and veggies! That’s crazy! This diet, to me, should be about trying to make better choices and noticing what happens to your body when you don’t. A few of us ladies started our own support group to get through this. And I must say, it’s pretty awesome! We laugh a lot, talk about how hard this diet is, support each other when we want Taco Bell (that one might be me) and really focus on loving one another through this hard journey. It’s been so much better than the other site that is shaming.
This process has really got me focused on that first idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others.
Forgiveness of self is the hardest one for me. I was raised in the Lutheran church by a Catholic mom. Guilt was in everything! Now when I make a mistake, I can beat myself up for a very long time. I know I am not alone with this. Sometimes it can take years for people to forgive themselves. Sometimes they go to their graves living in the guilt and shame of something they did in their past. It’s incredibly sad. Here is what I have learned about forgiving myself. It’s a necessity to a healthy life. You HAVE to forgive yourself, ask for forgiveness from the person you hurt or your higher power (I do both), learn from the mistake so that you do not do it again, and then let it go and move forward. We all make mistakes. Nobody is immune from it. Even if they pretend they are.
Forgiveness of others is the next one. Saying we forgive someone is easy. Actually putting those words into action is another thing. If you say you forgive someone but still think about the situation, still feel a stirring in your body, and hold the action over their head, you most likely haven’t forgiven them. You’ve most likely just said the words thinking that’s enough, but it’s not. When someone hurts us, there is a process that we must go through to heal. First off, we must truly forgive them for their actions. Secondly, we must work to repair what those actions did to us internally. Once the work is done, once we have faced why we are hurt, once we have head on dealt with the pain caused, then true forgiveness can occur. I sometimes think we don’t want to examine these things because we fear what might come up about ourselves. We all have demons and negative traits that we must deal with to be the best version of our self. If we don’t deal with those things, we will hurt others in our life.
As humans, we will hurt someone eventually. Whether intentional or not, there is no getting around it. It’s how you handle it after that makes the difference.
There is a book I pull out when I know I need to work through forgiveness of self or another. It is called… you guessed it! Forgiveness, By Iyanla Vanzant. I bought it six years ago to help me forgive someone whom I’d held over 20 years of anger towards. A few chapters in and I had let it go. It was truly amazing and most of all, it was freeing.
My challenge to you this New Year is to think about which areas of your life you still need to offer forgiveness to others. Have you truly forgiven? Or are you still holding onto areas of it? If it’s the latter, let it go. For real. Start this new year with a clean slate and an open heart. I have work to do, I know. And that will be a part of my 30-day journey towards spiritual, mental and physical health. I hope you will join me in this journey! Peace, love and light! Namaste.