Thursday, May 6, 2010

Forgive the Mistakes Post-divorce

Short of having the means to go back in time and change the past, how do we let go of our mistakes? Do we say, I forgive me for flunking that exam because I partied and didn't study, I forgive me for going to law school when I really wanted to join the Peace Corps, I forgive me for getting married when I wasn’t sure, or...[your issue here]?

How do we move from believing we've done something wrong to accepting our imperfections? You have to notice the self-blame and take action to forgive yourself. It goes something like this.

First, you have to admit that you've done something forgiveness-worthy. You married too young, too fast, a person you had qualms about from the start, or ...[your reason here].

Next, you must experience the feelings of shame, guilt and regret. Accepting responsibility is required. I messed up and I have no one (really) to blame but myself. No one forced me to marry, I could have withstood being a single parent, not pleasing him/her, not pleasing the families, or...[your reason here]. You must accept that you made the choice. You must allow youreself to experience that it feels bad.

Finally, you must try for understanding and acceptance. It seemed like a good choice at the time. No one's perfect. This doesn't make me a worthless person. Instead of self-blame and recrimination, you have to figure out what you're going to do about it now. How can you move forward? How can you handle the next relationship differently? How can you...[your goal here]? It's not forgetting, but forgiving and remembering to do something different.

Self-forgiving people, like other-forgiving people, have better health and mental health. It's not surprising, since guilt, shame, anger and self-criticism are stressful. So take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and let go, at least for right now. Take a step into your self-forgiving future. And while you’re at it, consider if there’s anyone else you might need to forgive.

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