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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you forgive yourself?

Today is November 4 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you forgive yourself?” While yesterday’s reflection challenged us to think about how often we forgive others, today’s post requires an understanding of how often we forgive ourselves. As the Dalai Lama said: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

As you work on translating one dream after another into reality, you will most likely upset a few people either intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes people will simply disagree with what you are doing, and you go about your business anyway. Perhaps their feelings get hurt. Other times you get caught up in your daily grind and unintentionally hurt some people.

It is important to forgive yourself if a)those who disagree with you get their feelings hurt or b)you unintentionally create some negative emotions in others. You are unable to control how others will respond to your ability to navigate the chaos. Forgiving yourself, in order to move forward and work towards the next goal, is an absolute necessity at times.

In "The benefits of self-forgiveness" published August 2, 2019, in Scope, a publication of Stanford Medicine, Carole Pertofsky, MEd, director emerita of student wellness services, discussed how people are prone to self-criticism and what they can do to help themselves cultivate self-forgiveness.

Research has shown that those who practice self-forgiveness have better mental and emotional well-being, more positive attitudes, and healthier relationships. A related outcome ties self-compassion with higher levels of success, productivity, focus and concentration.

"Self-forgiving people recognize that a lack of self-forgiveness leads to suffering," Pertofsky said. "They are kind to themselves, which reduces their anxiety and related depression." In comparison, those who are critical of themselves are more likely to experience significant negativity, stress, and pessimism.

Beverly Engel echoes this sentiment in her June 1, 2017, Psychology Today article and wrote “Self-forgiveness is not only recommended but essential if we wish to become emotionally healthy and have peace of mind. It goes like this: The more shame you heal, the more you will be able to see yourself more clearly—the good and the bad. You will be able to recognize and admit how you have harmed yourself and others. Your relationships with others will change and deepen. More importantly, your relationship with yourself will improve.”

Genuine self-forgiveness can help restore a person’s sense that they have moral worth and dignity, according to Dr. Peg O'Connor, in a May 28, 2019, Psychology Today article "Why Is It So Hard to Forgive Yourself?" Is self-forgiveness possible even if someone has made significant mistakes and caused great harm to others or themselves? Yes, says O’Connor who wrote “It all comes down to what they are willing to do in the present and future. They must acknowledge what they did, repair as best as possible and commit to doing better in the future.”

Self-forgiveness does not happen quickly and easily. It can be scary for sure, but it can also be uplifting and liberating. As you go about the daily grind of translating one dream after another remember that self-forgiveness can help you better understand how to value and respect yourself.

  • How often do you forgive yourself?

  • If you are not forgiving yourself, why do you think that is?

  • Do you recognize that not forgiving yourself is a sign of self-punishment?

  • Why do you think you deserve to be punished?

  • How would your life situation be if you forgave yourself?

  • What small step can you take today to start to walk down the path of forgiving yourself?


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