(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
By Wasim Kakroo
“The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah.” [Qur'an, 42:40]
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. —Marianne Williamson
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.-Nelson Mandela
HAVE you ever wondered why it might be so difficult to forgive yourself or somebody else for their mistake and move on?
When someone treats you badly, the last thing you would want to do is to let it go. Your ego desires retribution, justice, and even fairness. It seems logical; after all, why should you begrudge someone who repeatedly stomped you?
To reclaim your mental tranquility, is the straightforward response. Thus forgiveness is not for them; it is for you.
To forgive, according to the dictionary, is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward oneself or others for any perceived wrongdoing, shortcoming, or error. With that definition in mind, forgiving oneself or others turns into an act of compassion. This is because compassion is the act of alleviating sufferings by reaching out to yourself and others especially when you feel that you should be highly critical of yourself or of someone who has wronged you in some way. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others has just that effect.
Many of us have trouble forgiving. Since our childhood, we've been trained to view forgiveness as a sign of fragility. But we can change this tendency in ourselves. One of the most amazing qualities of the mind is that it is adaptable. Thus, each time we forgive ourselves or others, it gets simpler to forgive them again. As a result, we are progressively changing a behavior in a way that will make us feel calmer.
Remembering that we should“forgive but not forget” is the best approach for us to handle such situations. So, if someone treats us horribly, we might try to develop compassion for how much suffering they must have been through to act in that way. That might result in forgiveness. But forgiving doesn't imply that we should forget their behavior, therefore we might need to take steps to protect ourselves from this individual in the future. We ought to have a tolerant and forgiving mindset… nonetheless, our mind must be wise as well!
By now, we have understood that forgiving others is important for our mental peace. But the question is how to forgive others. The answer is, it all starts from forgiving your own self first. Before you can forgive someone else, you must first forgive yourself.
You become enraged with yourself when someone wrongs you. Questions such as“How could I have been so foolish?”“Why did I put my faith in them?”“I should have noticed the warning signs sooner!” start taking rounds in your head.
It is impossible to forgive and heal when you project your anger at yourself onto other people. Because of this, you become stuck in a destructive cycle and are unable to quit hurting yourself.
You have to forgive yourself for putting trust in the wrong person before you can forgive your cheating partner.
Forgiving the bullies at school also involves forgiving yourself for being powerless to stop it.
By forgiving your family for pressuring you, you are also forgiving yourself for not having the courage to follow your gut instincts.
You engage in compassion when you recognize your mistakes but forgive yourself anyway. You are aware that if you make mistakes, everyone else makes mistakes too. Nobody is flawless.
So, another question that arises from the discussion so far is, How to forgive ourselves?
Below are some of the tips that can help you to develop self-forgiveness.
Tips to develop self-forgiveness:
1. Focus on your feelings and emotions.
Focusing on your emotions is one of the first steps in figuring out how to forgive yourself. Prior to moving forward, you must recognize and deal with your emotions. Permitting yourself to welcome the emotions that have been generated in you will allow you to acknowledge, accept, and deal with them.
2. Acknowledge and talk loudly to yourself about the mistake.
If you make a mistake and find it difficult to let it go, say aloud to yourself what you learnt as a result of it.
Giving expression to your innermost feelings and thoughts can help you release some of your burden from your heart. The lessons you took away from your choices and their consequences may get etched in your memory.
3. Consider every mistake as a learning opportunity.
It is better to view each“mistake” as a learning opportunity that will help you move forward more quickly and consistently in the future.
We may forgive ourselves and move on if we keep in mind that we did the best we could, given the resources and information available at the time.
4. Allow yourself to postpone focusing on what went wrong.
It is advisable to picture your thoughts and feelings about the mistake moving into a container, such as a jar or box, whenever you make a mistake but find it difficult to get past it. By doing this cognitive exercise, you are telling yourself that you are putting this aside for the time being and that you will return to it if and when it is in your best interest.
5. Engage in dialogue with your inner critic.
You can learn to be understanding and compassionate about yourself and your inner critic by journaling. Writing down a“dialogue” between you and your inner critic, is one thing you can do. This might assist you in recognizing mental habits that are hindering your capacity to forgive yourself. Making a list of the things you appreciate about yourself, such as your abilities and skills, is another thing you may do when journaling. When you're feeling bad over a mistake you made, this can make you feel more confident.
6. Stop listening to the critical messages coming from your inner critic.
Recognizing the thoughts that are impeding forgiveness might be challenging at times. Just be compassionate about those inner critical voices without getting engaged in argumentation with them. Allow but do not engage with them.
7. Clearly state your goals.
You must decide upon the best course of action if your mistakes caused someone else some harm. Do you wish to apologize to this individual in conversation? Is it crucial to make amends and find common ground with them?
Making apologies may be something you should think about if you're unsure what to do. This goes beyond expressing regret to someone you've harmed. Instead, work to correct the mistake you've committed. According to one study, making amends first makes it easier to forgive ourselves for wronging someone else.
8. Use your own judgment.
Usually it's easier to provide counsel to others than it is to take our own advice. It can be good to think about what you would advise your best friend to do if they came to you with this mistake, and then take your own advice.
Role-playing with your friend can be helpful if you're having trouble processing the mistake in your head. Ask them to act as if they have done that mistake and then blame themselves for doing it. They'll explain what happened and how they're finding it difficult to forgive themselves.
You get to be the one giving counsel and then practice advising your friend on how to let it go.
9. Be kind and compassionate.
It's time to practice self-kindness and self-compassion if you find yourself criticizing yourself after doing a mistake. Being gentle and compassionate with oneself is the only way to start along the path of forgiveness. This requires patience and persistence, and a constant reminder to yourself that you are deserving of mercy.
10. Consult a mental health professional.
If you have tried everything that has been discussed in the above mentioned tips, then it is better to consult a mental health professional. A mental health professional especially a clinical psychologist, may be able to help you if you're having trouble forgiving yourself. It is advisable speaking to a therapist who can teach you how to break these negative life habits and discover better strategies to deal with mistakes and failure in personal life and relationships.
- The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196