We all make mistakes (or at least perceived mistakes). We can find ourselves harboring guilt, shame, anger, sadness, etc. for sins we have committed. Sometimes those sins are real and sometimes those sins are just us being too hard on ourselves. We often allow ourselves to feel horrible about these things because we believe on some level that we should suffer penance. Sometimes it’s good to feel that way. You’d likely be a sociopath if you never felt bad about wronging somebody. Those nagging feelings that put your stomach in a knot can drive you admit when you have done something awful so that you can be punished and/or society can be protected from you. Those feelings are a sign of humanity.
However, sometimes we punish ourselves far more than is sensible. You may hate yourself because you cheated on somebody 5 years ago. You may put yourself down daily because you allowed yourself to gain weight. You may run a script in your head for days that you are a bad person because you overreacted and yelled at a person for a minor annoyance. You may be disgusted with yourself because you haven’t lived up to what you have been told you should be. You may be upset about a dream you had. You might even be pissed at yourself for not being perfect. I know those last two seem silly. Dreams can occasionally stir powerful emotions in us though. I think most people have heard a story about a woman being pissed off at her husband all day because she dreamt he was unfaithful. Thus, it makes sense that a person could feel shitty about being unfaithful in a dream even though he or she had no control over that dream. A person could also feel guilty about murdering someone in a dream because they believe that must mean they want to murder someone. As for the issue of perfection; nobody is perfect. Right? Plenty of people want perfection regardless of that fact.
If you can’t let go of the concept of perfection, you probably can’t forgive yourself. Years ago I went through a bout of severe anxiety because I had just entered a relationship with the man of my dreams and I felt like I should be perfect for him. I was so stressed out because I knew I was not perfect and could not be perfect. I was punishing myself daily with reminders of my flaws and transgressions. I almost lost my relationship because seeing me be so hard on myself was hurting him. He never expected perfection of me. He loved me (and still loves me) as is. I had to let go of that longing for “perfection” in order to really love myself and forgive myself.
Forgiveness for yourself is probably the most important form of forgiveness. When you are pissed off at another person the anger may come and go as you see reminders of that person and then get distracted by something else. You can’t escape yourself though. Many addictions have been made by people trying to escape themselves. Suicides sometimes happen because of people trying to escape themselves. That’s all fruitless self-harm though. Not only do people fail to truly heal when they try to run away from their darkness, they often hurt those around them.
To forgive yourself, you have to look directly at your darkness. You have to have a conversation with it. You have to embrace it, accepting it, without letting it take over your life. Accepting your darkness does not make you evil. It makes you aware. When you are aware you can better control your situation and yourself. If you refuse to confront and embrace those unwanted aspects of yourself, they will just keep clawing at you from the inside in a desperate attempt for your attention. They will get louder and louder and eventually might drive you crazy. Accepting parts of yourself you have long rejected probably is not easy for most people. It is one of the best things people can do for themselves though. To love the unlovable is an ability of a remarkably beautiful soul. It is an ability that hopefully comes with the wisdom that we can love without allowing ourselves to be trampled. We can be a torch in the night, refusing to be extinguished despite whatever winds and sands challenge us. We may even find comfort in the depths.
So please, forgive yourselves. Look at those screaming, clawing, “monsters” inside of you as if they are scared children acting out. Realize that often they are scared children acting out. Listen to them. Learn to understand them. Soothe them as best as you can, and let go of the resentment you have been holding. This isn’t about whether or not you think you deserve forgiveness, it is a matter of knowing that forgiving and loving yourself helps you to be better for yourself and others. That’s a good foundation to work with.
Blessed be, y’all.