We’ve all been told that forgiving the other person does not release that person’s responsibility of whatever happened in the relationship; it frees our spirit and our heart to be able to move past the relationship issue. It does not release the forgiven of responsibility.
But forgiving ourselves is also important for us to move forward in the relationship or in our lives. We speak less about forgiving ourselves, but self-forgiveness is critical. It’s the difference between carrying guilt and shame to the point where our lives have come to an emotional halt, and negatively impact our behavior and our mental, spiritual, and physical health. So give yourself the gift of forgiveness so that you can work on whatever that issue was that has caused a relationship transition. Regifting may have to take place in order to see our world differently and move forward with a lighter heart.
What types of relationship crimes can be committed that gnaw at you, plaguing you, begging to be addressed:
.Working overtime consistently and not spending time with your spouse and the children
.Infidelity, be it sexual or financial
.Drug abuse, gambling, excessive behavior of any sort that detracts from the health of the relationship
.Disrespectful behavior towards your spouse
.Marrying when we had misgivings about the decision to marry
.Misrepresenting ourselves and not revealing important personal information about ourselves
.Not spending time to nurture the relationship
If you’re a relationship oriented person and want to be in another relationship, or if you’re already in another relationship yet haven’t resolved the one that is ending, you have to come to terms with the issues, as you see them, that caused the break-up of your marriage or you won’t be happy, you will live in pain longer than is necessary, and you may repeat the same behavior again and again until you understand why. But, and here’s the big but, self-forgiveness is the first step towards being able to realistically address the behavior that you feel led to the divorce.
I quote Maya Angelou a lot, American poet, author, and civil rights activist. Here’s a good one for this topic, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I take this to mean that we are always in a process of self-evaluation, self-reflection, and self-forgiveness. None of us are perfect; we all do things that we wish we could change. But some of us do better have a difficult time with self-evaluation and behavioral adjustment. You might be the type of person who finds it too painful to look at yourself in the mirror of self-reflection; it’s really hard to address what you may have done that hurt someone else. I am no different that you. I know what it feels like to have a relationship go south, whether personal or business. It hurts just as much if a business relationship goes awry, as it does in a marriage. But I guarantee you that when you accept responsibility for what you could have done to avoid relationship distress, you will be able to forgive yourself for being human, and hopefully avoid that pattern of behavior in the future. Unless you address the core issues that motivated the behavior, you won’t be able to live your best life, lift the burden of guilt and shame, and perhaps through professional help with a therapist or life coach, figure out the “why” behind the behavior and, as Maya Angelou has stated, ‘do better after knowing better”.
Ultimately, self-improvement is the name of the game. Whether in our families, our careers, our friendships, or in our relationship with ourselves, we have to improve to feel like a whole, healthy human being. Beating ourselves up is self-defeating; acknowledging imperfect humanity, in the best interest of self-improvement, and forgiving ourselves to remove guilt, shame, and remorse allows us to be better humans going forward.
Forgiving ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. What has to happen, though, is that we have to use self-forgiveness to improve, not to avoid or deny, but to be able to say, “Okay, I did X, and in doing X it resulted in Y. Y had unintended negative consequences that I never want to do again. How do I approach X differently in the future so that Z is the result and not Y? This is how we learn.
No relationship will be perfect. But our relationships can be better, starting with our relationship to our own truth, as we take stock of our imperfections, and our behavior that led to unintended and unwanted consequences, in our quest for happiness and fulfilling relationships.
My gift to you, this holiday season, is the gift of knowing you can always do better when you know better.