By Marilyn Tam
LOS ANGELES (Oct. 1, 2012) — I have found a common secret: most everyone regrets something they had done and they still have not forgiven themselves for it. This is true of almost all the people I’ve worked with, from teenagers to people in their late 80’s.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. — Lewis B Smedes
For 99.9 percent of the time it is not an illegal crime, just the general incidents in life in which they may have acted or spoken less than their highest self would like them to do. They may have greatly apologized at the time or strenuously denied any culpability or any variation within that wide range.
However upon reflection they felt that they could have behaved better, and now they fervently wish that they had acted differently or could make up for what occurred. Instead of remedying the situation, or because the incident is irrevocable, they carry their own self-judgment and unforgiveness inside. They bottled that remorse up and lug it with them everywhere. Their guilt serves as a constant reminder that they are not good enough and consequently don’t really deserve all the good they are striving for.
Their secret gnaws at their insides when they are feeling insecure and in the quiet moments. That hidden self-doubt and belief that we need forgiveness before we are acceptable is very damaging to our self-image and overall life. Holding onto the notion that we are in need of redemption before we can get the good we strive for is an ongoing sabotager of our opportunities for happiness, success, love and inner peace.
Our mindset and behavior will communicate subliminally to others that we are really not deserving of the love, the job, promotion or reward that we are seeking. Our own words and actions will also be mingled with subtle and not so muted ways of conveying our personal judgment that we are fated to some degree of failure or disregard.
What can we do now to shift that? It’s simple – do what you can to make amends and let go of your burden of guilt and “shoulds”. Easier said than done? The incident might have happened years ago and/or you may have lost contact with the people, or you feel awkward bringing up an old incident etc., but just do your best and move on. Hanging onto the memory and regret is the worst punishment. Nothing is as painful and heavy as your own non-forgiveness. Seek out what you can do to make up for what happened, and chances are it is not as challenging as you imagined.
Most often I have found that the “injured” party don’t even recall the incident or that they have let go of it a long time ago. The main thing here is to allow yourself to be ok with being less than perfect, learn from the event and take charge of your present and future.
People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on. — Bill Crosby
That is the major lesson here, to make good on what you can and forgive yourself. It is time to move on. We are often our own most severe critic, sometimes seeking perfection to the level of being neurotic about it! Recognize that you are human and can make mistakes; it is natural.
When those feelings of regret, judgment and resentment come up, acknowledge them. Know that you are doing the best you can at each moment, because if you can do better you would have done so. Forge ahead now without the burden of the past weighing you down. Do what you can to remedy the past situation, absorb the lesson and now you can greet the future knowing that you indeed are forgiven by the one that judges you the harshest, yourself.
Spirit is all loving and forgives us for what we have done with our repentance; it is time for you to forgive yourself. You deserve to fully live your life now! I believe in you.
When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. — Bermard Meltzer
Marilyn Tam is an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation.
Marilyn wrote her internationally selling books, “How to Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want” and “Living the Life of Your Dreams”, which won the Global eBook of the Year 2011 in the Inspirational/Visionary category. Her new book, “The Happiness Choice – The Five Decisions that Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” will be released in February 2013. Her books and work have helped numerous companies and people globally. You can get more free insights and find out about Marilyn on her website www.marilyntam.com/books.html and connect with her on facebook.