How to Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes. As human beings, we are by all means, far from perfect. Yet, when we do make a mistake, instead of bestowing upon ourselves the loving kindness and forgiveness we are taught to have for others, we berate ourselves relentlessly. How could I have done that? Why did I say that? What on earth was I thinking? Even after considerable time has passed from the initial event, we bring it up from the recesses of our memory to relive it with all the anguish and regret from before, not to mention any other negative feelings that we’ve tacked on since then. And we do it over and over again, punishing ourselves each time we rehash the crimes of our past. It’s a form of subconscious abuse that we inflict upon ourselves, little by little, until we unwittingly create and solidify a sense of self-hatred. For many, this results in a manageable level of stress and anxiety, while in more extreme cases, a tendency towards self-destruction or even suicide emerges.

Everyday, we are faced with the challenges of living in a chaotic world. When we are able to think things through and make decisions with clear insight and good judgment, we can overcome obstacles without too much stress or emotional trauma. But in a weak moment, when we allow ourselves to be led by desire or temptation, we slip and take a wrong turn. We’ve all said or done things in the past that we regret and for the most part, we know this and we accept it. But what we don’t realize is that we keep the memories of our transgressions buried deep within our subconscious mind. We think we’ve forgotten them, but in reality we have forgotten nothing. Once in a while, when we’re idle and our minds are relatively quiet, the partial memory of something we’ve done – something that we’re not so proud of – will resurface, bringing with it a sense of unease and restlessness. With time, those feelings may evolve into an undercurrent of discontent and unhappiness, which may later turn into anger. We may lose confidence in ourselves, become distrusting of others, and fearful that they may see who we truly are. And so we hide behind a shield of feigned apathy, unable to experience true peace or happiness.

Since birth, we’ve struggled through all the ups and downs of life to get to where we are today. When things went our way and we got what we wanted, we were happy; and when bad things happened to us or we got into trouble, we were sad or mad or disappointed. Up and down and up and down. Throughout our lives we have made friends, lost friends, fell in and out of love, got a job, and eventually many of us got married and went on to have families. It wasn’t easy, but now we’re here. We should give ourselves credit for having come this far and try to accept our lives for what they are. We must have loving kindness and compassion toward ourselves; and perhaps, most importantly, we must learn to forgive ourselves. Let it all go, let the mistakes that we’ve made serve as lessons in life so that next time we will try harder to do the right thing. Next time we will be better. The process of forgiving will take some time, but if we start now there will come a day when we can completely forgive ourselves for everything.

Meditation will help us realize the truth. It’s the best medicine that will heal the heart and mind. From now on, try to think good thoughts, have compassion, and learn to forgive others as well as yourself. Many people do and say the wrong things, because they don’t truly understand how it will affect themselves and those around them. It is only afterwards, when they feel the painful repercussions of their actions that they understand that it was a mistake to have done or said that particular thing; had they truly known and understood the nature of their actions, they certainly wouldn’t have done it in the first place. Have sympathy and compassion for these people, and try to focus on your own actions and words instead of those of others. Karma, the law of cause and effect, will take care of the consequences. There is no need for us to punish and blame others for their actions. In time, whatever they did will catch up to them, just as whatever you did will one day catch up to you. Give loving kindness to those who act without realizing the truth and understanding the way things are. If they still continue down the wrong path, then have pity for them. For those who are close to us, offer them help or advice. But then fade out into the background, and let them make their own decisions. Don’t become too involved in other people’s lives. Everyone has their own karma, the effects of which can be far-reaching. As the good karma of others can benefit those close to them, the bad karma can be harmful, too. Sit back, help when you can, and let karma do the rest.

Facing Obstacles

Life from beginning to end is full of problems. Personal conflicts, physical and emotional obstacles, and yes, even the seemingly insignificant stuff that just manages to annoy us are all part of our day-to-day struggle to live, to be, to exist on this planet. But instead of getting angry and frustrated or even annoyed, face the problems head-on. Pretend that they’re all just little tests. A pop quiz if you will, that you may or may not be ready for. It doesn’t matter. Just step back and look at the problem. Examine it and then find a solution. Leave the panic and victim-complex at the door. Figure out what you need to do and then do it with grace. If it doesn’t work, try again from a different angle. And if you’ve given it your best shot, and there’s nothing else you can possibly do as a human being to make it work, then let it go. Chalk it up to karma and move on.

Taking the right path in life is hard. There are so many things that just make us want to sit down and give up. It’s easier to give in to doubt and laziness than to reach for a higher plane of living. But if we persevere on the path, facing all of the obstacles with faith and courage, we can and will attain peace and happiness. Even a dripping faucet can fill a tank full of water, one drop at a time. And so we will reach our ultimate goal, one problem, one solution, one day at a time.

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