We learn how to forgive at an early age. Dating back to elementary school, we were taught that if we did something wrong to someone, we had to apologize to them. On the flip side, we also learned as children that if someone said, “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” we should accept it, forgive them and move on. This was put into us so much that as we grew into adults, we still accepted these phrases as signs of forgiveness from others… even if we didn’t always believe that the person was truly sorry.
Forgiving other people is good for you because whether they truly mean it or not, it sets you free and lifts a burden off your shoulders. But what about when the time comes to forgive yourself?
What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
The chances you didn’t take. The job you didn’t apply for. The relationship you didn’t give a chance, or the relationship you stayed in for years even though you were unhappy. The friendship you ended over nothing. The bad decisions you might have made that sent your life into a totally different direction than what you planned. Having children early before you got the chance to live life… the list goes on and on.
Struggling with forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, trust me. It’s so much easier to look at someone else’s wrongs done to you, analyze them, and criticize them before accepting their apologies. Yet when it comes to doing the same for yourself, we tend not to do so, which only makes us live a life full of regrets.
Forgiving yourself is much easier said than done. For instance, I walked around harboring regret for years because I never went to college. I had my first son fresh out of high school, and did not have the support system that would allow me to go away to college or even attend school full time. I had to work plenty of menial jobs that I knew I was way too intelligent to work; yet I had no choice. I had a son to provide for. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of life I would have lived had I went straight to college and followed my dream of becoming a journalist. I felt that I would be able to provide a much better life for my children had I done the “right” thing.
Once I matured, I was grateful for all the mistakes and bumps I had along the road to become the woman I am today. I wouldn’t trade them for the world because, although cliché, it definitely made me stronger, especially mentally.
Living a life with no regrets allows you to truly be free. Forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you may have made, because living in the past does not allow you to enjoy the present… then go on to live… laugh… and love.