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February 26, 2019

A Practice for those of us who have Never Truly Forgiven Ourselves.

 

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Forgiveness.

How many of us are told that we need to let go of the hurt someone has caused us, and our knee jerk reflex is to hold on? It sounds freeing, but actually living it can be one of the biggest challenges in our life.

We’ve been told that forgiveness is for our growth and happiness. That holding on to anger, resentment, and pain harms us far more than it harms the person who hurt us.

The concept may seem simple but putting it into practice can be difficult. Have you ever tried to forgive someone and just when you thought you had let go, that lingering feeling of anger re-surfaced?

Anger was at the root of my family tree, and I experienced it firsthand at a young age. It was the language of love for my father, and the only emotional connection I felt with him for many years.

Because I didn’t have a healthy connection with him, I felt unlovable and unworthy of love. It was a painful period. I was pining for love and attention, usually from the wrong people. Consciously, I wanted a relationship with a man who was healthy, whole, and complete but subconsciously I was attracting men who had deep insecurities and anger issues.

Time passed, and unhealed wounds lead me to several failed relationships mirroring the emotional pattern of my childhood. I was living in a dysfunctional, repetitive past. I wanted desperately to connect with someone who could validate my worth but couldn’t seem to break free.

The endless search for the unattainable love I was looking for left me feeling depleted and empty. It’s been painful to accept, but I can see the reflection of my past repeating itself in some of my current relationships.

Many of us have spent time working on forgiving the people who’ve hurt us or let us down. Sometimes with heartfelt detachment, we may have even experienced acceptance and gratitude. And, sometimes it doesn’t seem to last. Our mind wants to take us back into the past where we’re victimized all over again. The peace can be fleeting, and feelings of anger start to surface.

I hope that by sharing my journey of self-discovery, it may help you on your path.

I had an awareness of my issues but didn’t know what to do about them. I desperately wanted to heal from the unhealthy cycle of attachment to men in the hopes of making me feel whole.

It’s interesting how, when the desire is strong enough, all the universe conspires to help you manifest its outcome.

I like to say that the stars aligned and a friend introduced me to someone who had been practicing and teaching meditation for years. He worked in the prison system to help rehabilitate inmates so they could find healing and a fresh start in life. If he wasn’t the man to help me, I don’t know who could! I started to learn the benefits of practice, of quieting the mind and just being. The answers began to come.

Through practicing meditation and journaling, I realized that I had made other people responsible for validating my worthiness, amongst other things. The truth was, it was my responsibility, not theirs.

Also, my anger wasn’t solely toward the people who hurt me. I was angry and resentful at myself…for being a victim, for giving away my power to others, for waiting for them to make me happy, whole, complete, safe, beautiful, and (fill in the blank).

I never truly forgave myself.

For true healing to take place, I knew I needed to put the same time and effort I gave to others into my own forgiveness.

Writing a heartfelt letter of forgiveness is a powerful tool for healing.

Some tips:

Sit in a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. In your letter, let your words flow from a place of compassion and understanding instead of negativity, regret, or self-hatred. Use kind words as if you were speaking to your child or a close friend. Acknowledge you did the best you could with the awareness you had in the past. Express gratitude for yourself and what you’ve learned.

You can keep your letter or throw it away, whatever feels right for you.

The forgiveness letter I wrote to myself:

Dear Vicki,

I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of the woman you’ve become. Please know that I see positive changes in you. I know how hard you continue to work on yourself, even when you feel like giving up. You keep on pushing to free yourself from the past conditioning of self-doubt, unworthiness, and shame.

I can feel your heart and spirit opening and expanding. Through raw strength and courage, the walls of pain and anger are crumbling. You are building a solid foundation by going inward and connecting with your highest self.

I forgive you for trying to manipulate others into being what you wanted them to be to make you feel complete. I’m happy to see you surrendering to a place of healing, acceptance, and peace. Knowing that you’re enough is such a positive step forward.

I love how you are becoming more comfortable in your own skin. I see the joy in your life when you are authentic and how it’s making you a better mother to your daughters, a better friend, and partner.

I know it’s not always been easy.

You spent years living in a state of fear, anxiety, and panic not knowing to free yourself from the firm grip of the controlling ego. Now you know that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. I admire how you’ve created a new state of being, one of peace and awareness.

Your struggles with worthiness and the emotional attachment to others have not gone unnoticed. You’re awakened now, and I’m so proud that you are providing yourself with everything you need to be happy.

I’m aware that you’ve numbed yourself to cope with the pain of it all. You did what you needed to do to survive. It’s okay to let go of the judgment. I admire your self-compassion.

You strove to be perfect. You didn’t see that trying wasn’t failing. I know how you wish you could take back everything that you said and did to beat yourself down, especially when you were working so hard to stand steady.

I forgive you for directing your anger at others. I recognize that the need to make others an outlet for your pain is a way for you to cope. I know how terrible you feel afterward.

It’s okay that you make mistakes along the way. I’m so grateful that you are facing your pain and fear, that you are looking inside yourself for true love and contentment.

Please know that I will always be here to love you, accept you, listen to you, be kind to you, support you, and encourage you with every breath of this beautiful life you take.

When you can forgive yourself, you may find that all of your pain has brought you back to an intimate truth about yourself. Instead of anger being the enemy, it can be an old friend trying to show you the importance of letting go of negative patterns of behavior and looking to others as a source of validation.

~

Some say that forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. Self-forgiveness is the greatest gift of all.

I encourage you to take the time to go inward and write yourself a letter of forgiveness. You have everything you need inside of you to let go of the past and move forward into love and healing. You’re loved and, you’re worth it.

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