Whether you feel stuck in a job, relationship or just plain stagnant in life there’s a part of you that knows you’re meant for more than the drudge you created over time. But how, on Earth, do you go about changing anything? Between your job that pays the bills but otherwise sucks, your relationship that’s gone on auto-pilot and shows no sign of changing and the minutiae of each day you barely have the bandwidth to muddle along your familiar rut, let alone try to dig yourself out of it toward something new and delicious.
You’re facing a Grand Canyon sized groove, carved out of cemented beliefs armed only with a shovel and expect the digging itself to do the trick. Sister, that is not going to work. At least not for long.
You want to start with those cemented beliefs first. Break them up. Dissolve them away and let the flow of life do the carving for you!! Looked at from this perspective it’s easy to see why forgiving yourself is important when you crave forward movement. Critical even!
1. The Giant Misunderstanding About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not about passing over mistakes or unwelcome behavior. It is about reversing the flow of thought and energy you give to the past so you can focus on the future.
Every time you play a hurtful story in your head like, “I should’ve known better,” you give your time, energy and bandwidth to an event you can’t change. How effective are you at moving forward if your attention is looking backward? You can understand, then, why forgiving yourself is important because, without it, you create more of what you’ve done in the past.
Without forgiveness you…
…focus on what you think were mistakes –
…those mistakes make you view yourself and others a certain way –
…which make you behave the way you’ve always behaved –
…you create what you’ve always created.
And that, my lovely, is the very definition of a vicious cycle.
“F.A.I.L.* to Win: 4 Simple Principles To Get You Out Of Your Own Way,” teaches you to think of forgiveness as a conscious intention about where you place your energy first (as in fore-giveness). Forgiveness is not an exercise in “getting over” the past or “letting it go.” Treat it like that and you’ll create resentment because it feels like someone has gotten a pass for bad behavior. Forgiveness is better treated as a practice in reclaiming your energy from injurious thoughts, habits and beliefs. The main reason forgiving yourself is important is by evaluating 1) where you’ve been wasting your energy and attention and 2) where you consciously would like your it all to go you neither let yourself off the hook for what might appear to be missteps nor criticize yourself for taking the path you have. Forgiving, and moving forward, is now just a choice.
When you catch yourself berating past decisions or actions recognize that as an opportunity to redirect your attention to what you’re trying to create now. When you get angry with yourself for playing those thoughts on a loop … welp, that’s just more practice at forgiving yourself.
2. Forgiveness runs deeper than you think
Dig beyond the history you’d like to do-over and you’ll quickly understand why forgiving yourself is important for your successful future.
There’s forgiving yourself for what you actually did (or didn’t do) in the physical sense. Then, there’s the more important forgiveness work around thoughts of self-doubt, mistrust, envy or jadedness. For instance, if you’re going through a divorce you may wish you’d handled arguments differently or self-advocated more quickly. Take back the energy from that fruitless thinking, absolutely. And, recognize as a retrospective outlook that’s only part of the equation. What of your future?! Doesn’t it deserve more energy and attention than whatever scraps you have left over after lamenting your past?!
Visualize the new and improved you handling these issues differently, more powerfully. Start building your new future with all of your energy, not just part of it. If you haven’t fully forgiven yourself for things you think you “should’ve known better” about you will, through this practice, have a new awareness of latent thoughts and feelings. “Oh, I couldn’t be that forthright,” or “what if I do that and people don’t like it,” or worse “I’ll just end up making the same mistakes again.” Even if you think you can’t forgive yourself this method works. As you redirect your attention to your beautiful future mere stories like these will crop up. Remember, they’re based on a distrust of yourself and your power and simply show you where you have more forgiving of yourself to do.
Forgiving yourself is important because it untethers you from the ballast of your past and the doubts of the present so you can finally move forward in every aspect of your life.
3. You’re wired for change. You’re just not wired to like it.
You can’t help but crave achievement. You’re wired to desire a purposeful place in this world. So it’s no surprise that no matter how much you may have accomplished in life it doesn’t feel like enough. The conundrum occurs when you realize, dreaming of possibilities doesn’t negate an inherent resistance to the change necessary to foster those imaginings.
Not only is forgiving yourself important for your healing and rejuvenation it is imperative if you want to overcome your predilection toward stagnancy and tradition. Fore-giving your energy to your purpose and future gives you the juice to call yourself on your own bullshit when you’re tempted to sit still. Without it, that resistance may just run the show without you ever even knowing it.
Once you’re clear that forgiving yourself is important for getting unstuck use these simple practices forgive your past and fore-give your dreams once and for all.
Bonus: How-To Forgive Yourself, The Condensed Version
If you don’t have time to read the definitive steps to forgiving yourself and others, here’s the upshot:
The “Stuckedness” of Not Forgiving Yourself
- You’ll know you haven’t forgiven yourself when you find you don’t really trust yourself moving forward.
- If you don’t trust yourself you don’t instigate any real change.
- This further cements your belief that you can’t trust yourself to move forward. You find yourself right back at stage one.
Reclaim (and Use) Your Power:
- Cemented belief that because you haven’t moved forward must mean you won’t…
- Forgive (reclaim your energy from the hurt of this belief): Accept that you’ve created this pattern; it has served it’s purpose.
- Fore-give (Choose to prioritize your new belief; first give): use your new bandwidth to recall proof of times you have moved forward faithfully; delve into how it felt and what you did.
- If you see you’re not instigating and real change…
- Forgive: lovingly understand that what you’ve done is normal and has no bearing on what is possible.
- Fore-give: break down any big goals into the tiniest of actionable steps. Make them so easy that it almost seems ridiculous to make the list.
- Take a step, any step. You’re building proof, for yourself, that you are, in fact, forging ahead.
- When you feel the mistrust creep back in (and it will, it’s a pattern by this point)…
- Forgive: changing a decades-old pattern doesn’t happen overnight. Be gracious with yourself.
- Fore-give: Create a list of all of the evidence you’ve complied that you ARE finding or exercising your purpose.
- You ARE building your new path. And, with it, a growing belief that you can trust yourself to answer your call to purpose.
Consider this your new Forgiveness/Fore-giveness practice. And, remember it’s a practice. Before long you will have forgiven both deeds and hurtful self-perceptions AND moved forward in glorious, strong woman fashion!!
It’s amazing how a few steps in a list can actually feel like a lot. Download The Squeeze right now to help you manage any anxiety that crops up. It’s my favorite go-to practice when my head spins and my first recommendation if you can’t shut your brain off. Lemme know what you think!
Triffany is a certified professional life coach who helps strong women tame their inner hot mess. Start with the book F.A.I.L.* to Win: 4 Simple Principles to Get You Out of Your Own Way and follow up with a class. Everything you touch will get easier as you go.