Ep 20: Forgiving Yourself As Part Of Your Journey

One of the hardest parts of being human is forgiving yourself for past mistakes.

And when you’re in a long-term romantic relationship, not forgiving yourself will break that romance right in half.

We’ve all felt that shame of knowing we could have done better. And when we feel shame and guilt, we withdraw. We question everything about ourselves. We struggle to see the beauty in ourselves … which causes us to struggle to see the beauty in others.

Most of us stay in the muck of guilt and shame way too long. This hinders us from connecting with our loved ones and it stops us from personal growth.

So forgiveness needs to be part of our healing journey. However, it’s a process to own up to what you did wrong, move out of shame and into wisdom. In today’s episode, you will learn a 4 step process to practice self-forgiveness. We’ve all messed up. Every one of us. And grace and forgiveness are part of our healing journey. 

What You’ll Learn From This Episode:

  • How unforgiveness of one’s self affects your relationships
  • The four A’s to Self Forgiveness
  • How to Own Your True To Life Story
  • What Actions to take now.

Mentioned On The Show:

Hi, I’m Rachael Cunningham and you’re listening to Joyful Love, episode 20.

Hello friends! It’s October! Which means it’s my favorite month of the year! I was sitting outside on my back porch this morning, as I do most mornings. And I could hear the leaves starting to fall. I felt the chill on my face from fall, and I just remembered how much I love this time of year!

It’s also my birthday month, so I’ll be celebrating myself all month long!

Today I wanna start honoring some of the questions I’ve received from listeners … and I”m starting with a question of SELF- Forgiveness.

So Last week I received a question from a podcast listener that said, “Rachael I’m learning so much from this podcast, but Since listening I’ve noticed that I have not shown up as the person that I want to be in my marriage. Our marriage has so much to heal from and I want to move in that direction of healing. I’m not ready to give up just yet. However, I keep beating myself up for my past mistakes. How do I forgive myself for the choices I’ve made in the past?”

So today, friends … I am going to give you some very important tools to be able to forgive yourself. Whether it’s in your marriage or in another relationship – these tools apply.

Most of us know that it’s a process to forgive others who have wronged us. But it’s also important to be aware that it’s a process to forgive yourself. If you don’t know how to forgive yourself for your past choices, just like with any other unforgiveness, it is going to turn into bitterness, frustration, and playing the victim in your own life.

Before I knew how to watch my own brain and create the emotions that I wanted on purpose, and in turn take action from a place of love and joy and peace, I would often have reactions toward my loved ones I’m not proud of today.

 And when I first started learning this work and understanding how to take responsibility for the way I show up in life instead of blaming all the circumstances and people around me, the only person left to blame was me. But there is such a huge difference in taking responsibility for how you show up in life and blaming yourself for beating yourself up.

 To have an incredible relationship with anyone –  you must know how to forgive yourself. And it is a process. It is a practice. There is no magical sauce that will help you to completely forgive yourself immediately and never have to revisit it again.

 So I’ve had to do this work too. And I have to keep showing up and practicing it daily. But I promise you with the 4 steps of forgiveness that I’m going to give you ….  if you practice it, it does get easier. And you can learn to love and accept and have Grace on yourself more and more. And the more grace you have on yourself the more grace you will have on others. And you will end up showing up as the person that you want to be more than if you held onto that bitterness towards your past self.

 So let’s dive in. Let’s give you some tools that you can use starting today that will help you to find compassion and forgiveness for your past self. They are the four A’s of self-forgiveness.

And as we go through them, I want you to pay close attention to where each of these four A’s begin. They begin, 100% of the time with the thoughts that you have in your brain. 100% of these have to do with the stories that you tell yourself. So again these are just more tools to be able to watch your brain and watch what you are thinking.

 The first A for self-forgiveness is awareness. What is awareness? It’s when you can step back and look at what happened honestly. A good way to do this is to drop criticism.  So think about the situation that happened that you’re having such a hard time forgiving yourself for and pay attention to it.

Don’t brush it under the rug. Don’t ignore it. Take it out and actually look at it. If you’ve never really taken it out and looked at it and paid attention to what happened or if it’s just something that happened in your life and you brush over it very quickly and it created tension in your relationship, the last thing we want to do is to actually look at it. So actually pause and go back and look at this situation okay? Almost like you’re a third person looking at it from the outside. Look at what you did.  Look at how you responded. Be aware of what happened. and now ask yourself what wilI do differently next time?

 This question, “what would I do differently next time allows you to move out of the stage of guilt. So when you allow yourself to just be stuck in guilt, you are not moving forward.  Guilt does not allow you to be completely and totally aware of what you’ve done so that you can learn from it.

But when you ask this question what will I do differently next time? You allow yourself to move out of being stuck in guilt. You allow yourself compassion and you allow yourself to learn and begin the process of forgiving yourself.

This moves us into the second A of forgiveness which is acceptance – so seeing things for how they are.  We may not like the way things are we may not like the way things went in the past but we can allow them to be how they are without judgment.

So we accept … and we stop fighting against reality. There are facts about your life that just are. You cannot change them. You cannot go back and make them something different or change the way they happened. So there is no point in wishing things were different.

So many times what hinders us from personal growth is not accepting the reality of life. When we fight against reality, when we argue against reality, we hold ourselves from even knowing how to change our future. This is why so many of us keep staying in the same habits over and over and over. Because we’re not aware of our part in it and we’re not accepting the reality of that.

But when you stop wishing things were different … you are able now to focus on what you can change. There’s a saying that says where Your focus goes, your energy flows. When We’re in a pattern of not forgiving ourselves, wanting to shift blame, not looking deeply at the situation and seeing where can I learn from this, and in turn repeating the same mistake again.

So accepting reality may look like coming to terms with the very true fact that you could have been a better partner or better friend or a better mother.

But you weren’t. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is for you to keep beating yourself up about it so much that you’re not learning from it. Believe it or not you don’t have to punish yourself to learn from something. You don’t have to beat yourself up to grow in this life. Beating yourself up actually hinders you from growing.

But when you accept your journey in this life including the parts that you do not like and that you’re not proud of – when you accept that and accept that it is part of your journey, you have more energy and love  to pour into your personal growth right now.

 here’s the truth, if you knew what you know now you would have done better. You cannot forgive yourself or others if you reject or deny the past. So accept that the past is part of your growth – it’s part of your journey. And here’s the truth friends, you are the hero in your own story. Pause for a minute and just repeat that … I am the hero in my own story.   And every single hero has something major that they have to learn along their Journey.

 So don’t make excuses or Justify what happened. that’s another form of denial and fighting reality – instead of accepting that at certain points in your life you f***** up. And that’s okay. Which leads us to the third A : accountability.

 Taking responsibility for the role that we played in creating the results in our relationships whether we said something rude out of anger,  whether we lied or cheated, whether we lashed out every time someone made a mistake,  or maybe we were not patient or  loving, all of these past mistakes that we’ve made – when we take complete and total responsibility for them,  we can begin repairing the damage and healing our relationships again. Accountability means realizing that we do have the power to hurt our relationships all by ourselves.

 We all know the power of one person. And yes of course your partner has done things wrong too. They’re a human being so of course they have done things wrong. But today we’re focusing on you.

 so we know the power that how 1 person shows up effects the dynamic of a relationship. How 1 person shows up can hinder connection. But I also want to remind you that on the flip side we also have the power all by ourselves to begin to heal our relationships and begin to build that connection again.

 OUR temptation is to constantly focus on the blame of someone else. Because it feels better For at least a brief moment to shift blame and not take responsibility for our actions.

So I want to remind you that you have so much power over your own life. You have so much power over your own thoughts… power over your own love for yourself and others. You have power over how you feel every single day, and you have power over the next steps that you take in life.

And When you understand that power – now you can take action from an intentional Place.

Action is the fourth A  in this process of forgiving yourself.

So let’s just recap for a minute.

When we pause to be aware of reality – what actually went wrong and you ask yourself what would I do differently next time right?  In bringing awareness to that very real thing that happened and what you can change is step one.

Then you can accept that reality – stop fighting against it – and move into full and complete acceptance of your past. I’m gonna even say here to honor your past. Respect what happened in the past. Not that you’re saying it was good or that it was supposed to happen. But just fully accepting and respecting that that chapter of your life is part of who you are today and part of your wisdom.

Right? We can be here to learn and grow instead of pushing away our reality. When you can do that – now you can look at your life and honesty and say okay I’m going to take responsibility for what I did. For how I show up in life. Not just for that event,  but for the rest of my life I’m going to take responsibility.

I’m going to be accountable for the way I show up every single day. And now we can take that intentional action. We take action on purpose to repair our own hearts and emotions and in turn, we take actions to connect with our loved ones and heal our relationships. We take purposeful,  Mindful, and compassionate action towards improving those relationships.

What action? you might ask. Like this could be the hard part, rachael. Tell me what to do! what action do I take?

You’re going to take action to improve your listening skills. You’ll take action to create boundaries where needed. You’ll take action in not people-pleasing so much so that you’re not exhausted and making decisions out of exhaustion. You’ll take action to care for yourself more. And then you also take action in watching your own brain so that you don’t give up on this process.

Understand that forgiving yourself takes time and practice just like forgiving anyone else would. This is how we improve in life. We practice this. It’s how we become wiser. It’s how we love bigger. It’s how we stop repeating the same mistakes over and over.

And might I add… you can not have joy in your life or your relationship until you forgive yourself.

So … give yourself permission today to start this process of forgiveness.  And then spread that love and forgiveness everywhere you go!

Enjoy the Show?