The Freedom Found in Forgiving Yourself

A friend forgives another friend for gossiping about her. A husband forgives a wife for lying to him about her intimate relationship with another man. A mother forgives the man who murdered her daughter. The human capacity to forgive even the deepest wrongs is awe-inspiring.

For many people, forgiving others provides liberation from anger and grievance that leads to a richer and happier life.  But there is an even deeper peace to be found through what might be the hardest act of all—forgiving ourselves.

The first part of any conflict we must resolve is not between “me and my neighbor,” but between “me and me.” So believes author and therapist Thom Rutledge, who has written extensively on forgiveness and self-forgiveness.

Forgive Yourself

In his book The Self-Forgiveness Handbook: A Practical and Empowering Guide, Rutledge writes that the resentment and grudges we hold against ourselves are every bit as destructive as those we harbor toward others. Every time you tune in to the inner dialogue that says you are not smart enough, thin enough, successful enough, famous enough, popular enough or any version of NOT ENOUGH or berate yourself for what you did or didn’t do, you are choosing to live in blame and resentment. In the words of Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh, to truly practice forgiveness we must first forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

In her book The Unburdened Heart: Five Keys to Forgiveness and Freedom, author Mariah Burton Nelson writes, “When we treat ourselves with love and compassion, we become nicer to everyone else. We become less defensive. We don’t worry so much what others’ judgments might be, because we’re not judging ourselves.”

Forgiving yourself is not a self-indulgent way to let yourself off the hook for behaving badly. Rather, it is the result of looking deeply within yourself, recognizing when our plans go awry, taking responsibility for our actions and loving ourselves in spite of it all. Fred Luskin, psychologist and cofounder of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, writes, “Forgiving is not about condoning bad behavior; it’s about taking responsibility and becoming a hero and not a victim in the story you tell.”

To be able to say, “I behaved (thoughtlessly, unkindly, naively, etc.), I forgive myself for not being perfect and I commit to doing better in the future” could be the biggest—and most healing—act of all. When you can forgive the imperfections in yourself, it’s a lot easier to forgive them in others.

“Self-forgiveness is a commitment to love yourself no matter what,” Nelson says. “It’s the generous act of giving yourself a break. Remembering that you’re human. Offering yourself the loving kindness that you might offer, on your best days, to those you love the most, no matter what they’ve done.”

Author’s content adapted under license, © 2010 Claire Communications

 

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What clients say about
the power of coaching with Deborah 

“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris

“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan

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What readers say about
the impact of Deborah’s book

“With the same energy and determination she applied in the professional world, Deborah has taken her considerable expertise in human potential and has now set her sights on the largest co-op in the world, humanity. ‘Choose Your Energy, Change Your Life!’ tackles what I believe are the most important questions we each must ask: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and what’s love got to do with it (cue Tina Turner)? These are not trivial or philosophical questions for the answers change what we do, why we do it, who and what we love. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk with Deborah on this critical journey.” JD Messenger, Award Winning Author of “11 Days in May: The Conversation That Will Change Your Life”

“To me the great thing about Deborah’s book is how ‘accessible’ she makes the ideas. The Oxygen Mask is probably the single best example. As with so many of the ideas in the book, she explains the principle in such a simple way that it’s got universal application to virtually any reader. I can imagine people having multiple moments of ‘Oh….I get it!’ throughout the book. The stories from her own life as well as stories of her clients’ experiences become stories about all of us—stories about which the reader will think, ‘I am living my own version of this.’ Well done—bravo!” Joe Calloway, Author of “Be The Best At What Matters Most”

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© Copyright 2016 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

About djwlifecoach

As a coach, author, speaker, singer, artist, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. To learn more about my work in the world, visit djwlifecoach.com. Subscribe to my blog at tiny.cc/djwblog. Listen to my radio show at tiny.cc/djwradio. View my author video and book trailer at tiny.cc/djwauthorvideo and tiny.cc/djwbooktrailer. Access 40+ tapping resources at tiny.cc/djwtaps. Send email to deborah@djwlifecoach.com. For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the three coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee, Mortimer and Maisy Jane.
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