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How To Forgive Yourself | BABH S1Ep36

season 1 Jun 02, 2020

EPISODE 36: How To Forgive Yourself

Thank you to Joyce Clement from Canada for sending me a voice message and asking me about self-forgiveness, which inspired this episode.

In this episode we look at the challenges of self-forgiveness and why it's so important to get there.

I cover:

  • How the three forgiveness myths that keep you stuck (that I talked about in episode 24) apply to self-forgiveness
  • What it takes to reach a place where you are ready to forgive yourself
  • 5 practical approaches to self-forgiveness that can help you get there

So click that button and let's get into it!


Forgiveness Myth Busting

In Episode 24 I busted 3 myths that can prevent forgiveness and you can check out that episode to hear how they apply when it comes to forgiving others.

Below I've laid out how those myths operate when it comes to self-forgiveness and why they are just as false in this context:

MYTH 1: ‘That will show them’ becomes 'That'll show me'
This is based on the idea that self punishment will somehow change things. It won't.

MYTH 2: ’They don’t deserve my forgiveness’ becomes 'I don't deserve my forgiveness'
This is a justification for holding on to pain. It’s a more likely to do with control; an avoidance of feeling the crushing emotional pain of the self-value that's been transgressed. Better to 'burst the abscess' and have momentary acute pain than to push it into chronic, debilitating and toxic pain.

MYTH 3: ’Forgiving them somehow makes their behaviour OK’ becomes 'Forgiving myself somehow makes my behaviour OK'
Forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning behaviour and has everything to do with letting go within the self. Using this myth to disallow self-forgiveness is about clinging to a moment in the past. Better to move forward and see who you are beyond that moment-in-time.

Getting Ready to Forgive Yourself

STEP 1: Acknowledge that not forgiving yourself is useless (a flawed strategy)

Lack of self-forgiveness is self-punishment; the idea being that punishment will achieve some end (that it won't).

Ask yourself "What do I really want to achieve by this strategy?"

For example perhaps it's about 'not doing that unforgivable behaviour again'?

Well that's going to be achieved much more effectively with making a commitment to doing the inner work; looking at the causes and triggers inside you that made this possible and healing them.

Self-recrimination is an avoidance of truly looking at this stuff, which means it doesn't get healed and you will be vulnerable to it again.

So if you really want to do your best to never have this happen again, then self-forgiveness is going to be essential, for self-forgiveness comes from self-understanding, which means looking those ugly parts of you in the eye.

Or perhaps what you wan't is redemption?

Self punishment isn't the path to redemption. This is really in your hands and is intimately linked to self-forgiveness.

Perhaps you believe you need redemption to come from outside? Maybe from God (or whatever you call a higher power), or maybe from the other person against which you feel you have committed the unforgivable act?

It isn't always possible or appropriate to speak with that person and seek their forgiveness. But that doesn't have to be a barrier. You can have a dialogue with them (or God for that matter) within your journal.

Consider if making amends will bring you peace, balance things out within yourself and pave the way for self-forgiveness.

STEP 2: You need to arrive at a place of genuine willingness to forgive yourself

You can't fake this. You have to to wholeheartedly want it; have a clear intention.

If you've done your work in step 1, this can be a natural and automatic outcome.

If you are still meeting resistance, consider doing a cost/benefit analysis to get leverage on yourself. Ask yourself what it costs you to not forgive yourself and what it would give you if you chose to forgive yourself?

STEP 3: What would have to happen in order to forgive?

By this point you may have tipped the scales enough that you can simply forgive yourself. However there may be more you feel you need to do and asking yourself this question will reveal your answers to you about what needs to happen.

Follow the breadcrumbs of the answers that come to you.

And the following practical suggestions may help inspire you...

5 Practical Approaches To Self-Forgiveness That Can Help You Get There

1. Am I willing to forgive myself?

If you have followed the steps to get ready to forgive, then it may be a simple as literally asking, "Am I willing to forgive myself?" and feeling that yes inside.

2. Dialoguing with the 'younger you'

Whatever you have been unwilling to forgive happened in the past. So there will be a 'younger self' that you are not forgiving. It can be hugely healing to engage in a dialogue with that part of you. It creates a space where you can express all the hurt, emotions and consequences of their behaviour; feel the stuck feelings so they can shift and hear their perspective. You can do this in a journal or get help.

3. Use The NPA Process

NPA is a powerful ally when it comes to self-forgiveness. When you realise that acts and moments in time are not-personal, forgiveness can be automatic. This is possible because NPA works to quickly and effortlessly shift your stuck sense of identity. 

Identity is about 'who I am as a person' and comes into play because not forgiving yourself is often about holding onto the idea that "I did a thing I consider bad; there I am a bad person".

A single act that transgresses your sense of self can create an 'identity crash'; "I never thought I'd do that! Who the f*** am I... I'm bad"

NPA helps you distinguish a moment-in-time from who you are in wholeness; opening the door to self-forgiveness, understanding and healing.

You can download The NPA Process for free, get some training or get some help from me.

4. The Unconditional Pivot Exercise

There's full training on The Unconditional Pivot exercise in episode 27 and you can also download the worksheet for free.

This exercise may not, at first, seem applicable to self forgiveness, but there is an aspect of it which can be truly supportive; especially if you are hitting a lot of internal resistance to forgiving yourself in the other ways, or even getting ready to forgive yourself.

The piece of the exercise that I feel could really help is an adaptation of step 4 statement, which is:

"I like being in the receiving mode of thoughts, energies and perspectives that help me forgive myself"

Repeating this statement is a very gentle way to start moving yourself towards self-forgiveness.

5. Get professional help

The path of self-forgiveness can be a tricky one when you are balled-up with conflicting emotions and beliefs. So tackling it on your own won't always be possible, or at least not the easiest or kindest way.

It can be a great kindness to you to find someone who has great skills and experience with self-forgiveness work. It's an area I have specialised in throughout my 25 year career working 1-on-1 with people; helping them find the release, freedom and healing they so long for.

If you are suffering from a lack of self-forgiveness and would like professional help from me, go check out my 1:1 offers and get in touch.


1:1 Sessions with Joel 👆🏻

Click image to get The NPA Process Sheet for free 👆🏻


Full instructions for The Unconditional Pivot exercise in Episode 27 👇🏻

Forgiving The Unforgivable in Episode 24 👇🏻



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