Monday, February 10, 2014

Forgiving Ourselves...


“Forgiveness is beautiful and it feels good when someone gives that gift to you. But it’s one thing for someone you wronged to forgive you. It was another to forgive yourself.” ~ Kristen Ashley

Forgiveness is a very powerful thing. Forgiving someone is not only unburdening the forgiven party, but it's also unburdening yourself from those negative feelings, which can be quite toxic.

But what we sometimes seem to neglect is forgiving ourselves. Why is this so? Why are we so reluctant to forgive ourselves when we so often stress the importance of forgiving others? It took me a very long time to realize the importance of this, but when I did it changed my life in so many ways.

I think it’s important to give ourselves the same second chance that we’re so willing to give others. I think it’s equally important that we not hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard. We are fallible. We will make mistakes. Every single day. Those mistakes do not define us. But our reaction to them most certainly can.

Have you ever had problems forgiving yourself in the past? If so, did you eventually come to a point where you could forgive yourself? 

114 comments:

  1. Ah, forgiveness. One of the hardest things for a human to truly do. I'm still working on forgiving others, as well as myself. It's been challenging, but I'll get there. I keep working on it though, because I believe when I can truly forgive and let things go, it will bring me a lot of peace.

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  2. It is hardest to forgive ourselves. We are our own worst enemy.

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  3. wow ... this is a hard one -- still working on it for myself :)

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  4. I'm terrible at forgiving myself really. I think I can eventually do it but it takes a while.

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  5. I forgive myself easily, as I know where I come from. I forgive others quite easily too. They have there own demons. I don't forgive malevolence from anyone.

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  6. Forgiving myself? That has always been a tough one for me, but I can do so many better things with that energy that it behooves me to try my hardest...

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  7. It's also true that we would never talk to others the way we often talk to ourselves. We're so hard on ourselves!

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  8. I have no problem forgiving myself because I love myself. It wasn't always the case. I don't belong to myself because I belong to Christ. I know that I'm imperfect and make mistakes every day but I also know that I'm special in the eyes of God because he created me and cares for me. He has given me so many gifts and I marvel at how unique I am. I have no problem forgiving others who have wrong me because I don't take things personally any more.

    I read a little book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's a practical guide to personal freedom. There's also the companion book of The Four Agreements and I found it most helpful.

    JB

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  9. I have learned to forgive myself over the years. I remember that I am a flawed human...just like other people whose flaws I forgive.

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  10. I tell myself I forgive me for whatever...and all is well....then a few days later I start to beat myself up again for the same thing. It's like a turntable...

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  11. Never considered this idea, you can torture yourself with past mistakes, great advice today Keith.

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  12. I hold on to my mistakes for a very long time! (Even if they are very small). It's unfortunate.

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  13. I have looked in the mirror and re-lived everything I did wrong, or acted petty or ungrateful or worse, I've made my peace with my mistake...I try but i can't forgive the man who threw me out of my house after promising me I'd never have to leave, and I think I could have forgiven him, but my sweetest cat ran away and died when we had to live, the Knife in my heart , I tried to pull it out, but even if he offered me the house back, I'd rather lived in a whole with boa contractors, they only kill you once, and I try everyday to let it go, and I'm getting better, and I pray to forgive ,cause I can't do it yet...everytime i see him I want to shred him to pieces the way he did to me and my loving cat, I'll never know if she died how she died how scared she was, and I can't look at him I can't see him but he works under the table across the street of my apt for a consortium of condos and every weekend that I see him I tell God he's asking too much of me...so I try yoga, I try to release the pain he cause me, and it's the hardest thing I've ever done ...I'm trying so hard...

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  14. This is not something that can be done easily. It requires guidance, training and systematic practice by a life coach or someone expert in past life regression. Unless we forgive ourselves for the "mistakes" that we have made in the past and forgive others who have hurt us we cannot live a life with inner peace.
    Good post !
    Thanks
    Rajiv
    www.magnificentdewdrops.blogspot.com
    www.magicalpresent.blogspot.com

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  15. I sometimes DO go over my mistakes, over and over and over. I think I've gotten better at recognizing my own imperfections, accepting them, and resolving to try and do better in the future. It's a lot more productive than beating yourself up over something you can't un-do.

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  16. Can hold on to things for a while at my sea, but eventually i forgive me. Forgive others too, but never forget.

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  17. I could make this the longest comment every, but I'll refrain. I'll sum it up by tell you I just wrote my A-Z post on forgiveness yesterday. I said the exact same thing. You have to forgive yourself before being able to forgive others.

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  18. I've always found it easier to forgive others than it is to forgive myself. But I have forgiven myself for some things that I had no control over even though I blamed myself for them.

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  19. Even if I forgive myself for something (and I do that)... I just keep on regretting it

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  20. You're right, a reaction to a mistake can define you far more clearly than any mistake ever could. Very nice post!

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  21. It is definitely a lot harder to forgive yourself than to forgive others. Still struggling with that sometimes!

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  22. Yep, this is a tough one. Takes years in some cases. You manage when you figure out that you can't change what is done. Then you can forgive yourself. Great question.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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  23. I could probably write a book on this subject, Keith. I am so darned hard on myself. Partly because for many years, all I saw was the negative side of me. Now that I realize I am human (and fallible, as you say) I am more forgiving of my mistakes and also more aware of the good traits. Great post!

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  24. This is an excellent post Keith and the question you asked is thought provoking. It is hard to forgive ones but the older you get the easier it becomes.

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  25. Working on it, still. For me I think deliberately overwriting those negative messages in my head with kind ones helps along with being gentle with myself and others. Do a kindness for someone each day even if its just stopping for a pedestrian or smiling at someone.

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  26. always accept the apologies you never receive. especially when it's yourself.

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  27. I admit that I have a terrible time forgiving myself. I'm my worst enemy. I'm working on it, though.

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  28. Thank you for the good and gentle reminder to do this for ourselves today.

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  29. Dear Keith,
    My Father made it a rule when we were children, that if we had fought or been out of sorts with each other during the day, we had to make it up, truly make it up, before we went to bed. This was a rule my grandfather had followed. I still follow that rule today, and that includes forgiving myself. Sometimes though, just as it is hard to forgive things done (or perceived to have been done) to me, so it is sometime shard to forgive myself for things I have done.I say sorry for these in my night prayers and try to forget them afterwards, but it is not always easy. . .
    Kirk

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  30. i am my worst enemy. i'm hardest to myself and that being said i don't forgive myself easily. but it's better now. i'd been mad at myself for years, and then there was this one occasion happened to me and i realised that i have to change. i'm still hard at my self but i'm more loosen up now.

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  31. I hate to admit it - but I still have a problem forgiving myself some times.

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  32. Keith,

    I think I am still too worried about 'speaking up and out.' I sometimes allow an opportunity to pass, and later regret not adding to the moment. I have difficulty forgiving myself when that happens!!!
    Past circumstances have left me regreting not challenging people at those times...Now it is too late..
    Finding my couragous voice, slowly!!
    Eileen

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  33. I find it is much easier to forgive others than myself. I have learned to do it though. I just turn it over to God. I know he forgives me so that makes it easier for me to forgive myself.

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  34. I'm a work in progress on this one. It's hard not to berate myself sometimes for things I've done in the past. I am trying to consciously let the past go.

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  35. I think it's our conscience (at least we have one!) that haunts us, and holds us prisoner. But eventually it's good to forgive ourselves and let go of the past. As long as we are sorry and accountable, there's no reason to keep punishing ourselves with guilt. We learn, and move on.

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  36. I never have trouble forgiving others, but I always have enormous trouble forgiving myself. There are many things I've done that I have never forgiven myself for.

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  37. I forgive but don't forget ... ha?

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  38. I do feel like this forgiveness thing is getting better/easier with age. Both forgiving myself and others.

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  39. Gosh what a great post and lesson to practise! Wise words again keith.

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  40. je moet het wel leefbaar houden voor elkaar.dus waarom niet.

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  41. Very important questions, Keith - I think we all struggle with forgiveness, for ourselves and others. I have been trying to love and forgive myself because I know that is the only way I can truly learn to forgive others. I guess it's recognizing that we are all going to make mistakes and none of us is perfect, including ourselves most of all. I think if we can learn from our mistakes, we can forgive ourselves. xo Karen

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  42. I love your words. I feel as though the importance of forgiving others is so highly stressed, while the importance of forgiving ourselves is overlooked. It's easy to feel the grudge that you hold against someone, but letting go of it is the hard part. But most of the times, we can do it. Holding a grudge against yourself is completely different. You live with yourself every single day and if you're mad at yourself, your mind will be internal hell. How much more freeing would it be to our minds if we gave ourselves grace (and accepted the grace that God gives us) when we make mistakes? It's a radical thing to do, but a necessary thing to do if we want to free our minds.

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  43. Such an important post today, Keith. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of forgiveness!

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  44. Forgiveness is such a slippery concept. I'm not sure that i even know how to define it, let alone practice it completely.

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  45. This is a very good point. We are often most hard on ourselves! I've learned over the last few years to be more kind to myself which is hard since I'm a perfectionist. But like you said, we are fallible and do make mistakes. No one is perfect!

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  46. As a teenager, I accidentally dropped my mom's chick from her chicken coop on the floor which was made of stone. The chick started bleeding by her beak. It did survive but for the longest time I could not stop kicking myself.

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  47. I liked another commenters word to describe forgiveness - 'slippery'.
    I forgive others quite easily as for me it aligns with holding a grudge, something I endeavour to never do. It's just too taxing.
    I'm not sure if forgiving myself is as important as accepting, owning it, and taking responsibility. I suppose it depends what the issue is about, who it's hurt and how painful it is or isn't.
    Yes, indeed that word forgiveness is a slippery number.

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  48. sometimes forgiving ourselves is the hardest bit...or accepting forgiveness for something we've done...my boss got on me the other day for being so hard on myself...when he was over the mistake...

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  49. Looking at all those comments I'm amazed how much this topic makes people think - and how a lot of us struggle with it in the same way - being too hard on ourselves. But it also makes me happy to see we're all working on it. We might still have a long way to go, but we're working on it :)
    Oh and yes, I'm totally working on it myself, too. I'm trying it every day - sometimes I can, sometimes I don't, most of the times being way too hard on myself. But I'm determined to get there - to let go and not let guilt trips define me, but learn from those situations and move on.
    Great and inspiring post!

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  50. I suspect the reason so many of us older guys have similar physiques is from kicking ourselves, which exercises the same muscle groups.

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  52. I think everyone must come to the point where self-forgiveness is absolutely necessary.

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  53. Oh my friend, I've had many people to forgive in life. I will continue to try to forgive, and I always tell myself if we want our Father to forgive us, then we must forgive those who hurt us. It's not an easy thing, is it? Yes, I will forgive others and myself, as that is the only way peace can truly exist. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    ~Sheri

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  54. Forgiveness, whether it be for others or self, is the only way to a truly happy, healthy life.

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  55. I don't try to dwell on past mistakes, so I find forgiveness for myself is pretty easy. However, it's forgiving others that is the issue with me.

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  56. when I begin to beat myself up for how stupid I was when I was 20...I realize all the people who knew me back then are more forgetful each year and/or have learned about this...and all the younger ones will ever know that I was..silly...but sometimes...I still have to give myself a talkin' to....that I just wasn't that bad!

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  57. I'm still learning to do this. It took me a long time to forgive others instead of holding grudges. So I imagine it will take even longer for me to learn to forgive myself. But I'm getting better.

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  58. I had issues in the past with forgiving but at a young age, I realized that if I didn't forgive that this meant I was holding the person in my life, I learned to let go... however; you are right about the forgiving myself part... that took more years... I think we expect more from ourselves than others at times but this is a very important step to forgiveness...

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  59. It's so true. But also extremely difficult when one has to live with the mistakes they made.

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  60. I think many of us have trouble forgiving ourselves because we are very hard on ourselves.

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  61. Yes, I struggle with self-forgiveness all the time. I got a lot out of your post though, so maybe it will help me let go. Being unforgiving is definitely a toxic concoction.

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  62. Forgiving people, and giving them second chances are two different things for me.

    Of course, forgiving means that I don't have to carry the burden of something or someone else. Like they say, the best revenge is to live a good life.

    But I am definitely not cool with forgetting what someone did to me or to someone else. I would give someone second chances only if they are the absolutely last option or if they have provided enough reason to have faith in them. Or, if the situation is small.

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  63. I definitely did and I think the older I get, the more I realize the lessons in those situations and I am able to take those steps forward. It's not easy, but you are very right...we too, deserve forgiveness. We are the hardest on ourselves.

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  64. I agree with Holy Ghost, it's easier said than done.

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  65. I agree. I think forgiveness is so important. I believe its' so important to forgive others, because I don't want those negative feelings weighing me down. Forgiving myself, though? That's a lot harder, and I don't know why! I've become a lot better about forgiving myself, but I still have moments where my mistakes come to mind and I'm hard on myself because of it. Like you said, though, our mistakes don't define us, but our reactions to those mistakes can.

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  66. Yes, absolutely, it took my therapist to point this out to me. I had told her I held no ill will toward my dad or anyone in my past; God forgave me and said to forgive them, and I did. But then she said, well what about forgiving yourself? It literally took my breath away, I honestly had never thought about it like that before... Could I forgive myself for the five horrible things I'd been carrying around with me for so long? Could I really finally let that burden go? It seemed so simple when she said that...I had asked God's forgiveness long ago...it was just my ego who insisted on carrying the burden for so much longer than I needed to.

    So a little over two years ago, I did finally forgive myself for the mistakes I made in my life, the Five Bad Things I've carried around in my head forever. They're still there, I still remember them and regret them, but finally they're no longer the heavy burden on my soul they were for 20+ years.

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  67. Forgiving yourself as well as others is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Luckily with my declining memory, it's getting easier. :-)

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  68. I'll forgive myself when I've earned it.

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  69. I think everyone has moments like this. Forgiving oneself comes from realization and sometimes amending the weak links.

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  70. So love this... you said it! I think it is is just as important to forgive ourselves, if not more so, even if the ''others'' are unable to forgive us, or we are unable to forgive them at that particular time. We are human, and we all make mistakes. Forgiveness starts on the inside. :)

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  71. Yes it is difficult to forgive ourselves. Perhaps we should hope that those we have wronged forgive us as easily as we do them. I do forgive myself but notice I still regret the unskillful actions!

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  72. So true - forgiving oneself is like letting ourselves out of prison...

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  73. I quite agree Keith! I don’t have or find issues forgiving myself… getting aware about things which I used to think wrong make me forgive easily. Until it’s difficult

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  74. I am hard on myself and on others - forgiveness doesn't come easily - but as I age I am sort of learning to live with things that I can't change and accept my faults and imperfections, and say - it is ok to be flawed.

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  75. I try to cutt myself some slack. And forgive myself when I think I'm being too hard on me. A great big slice of slack, sometimes ;-) great post, Keith ;-)

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  76. In the past, I beat myself up, agonizing from things I did. Feeling undeserving of forgiveness.
    And now, I'm comfortable with who i am and my mistakes that I forgive myself quite frequently, but at the same time, learning to take more care in what I do and say, so that my forgiving is few and far between. That's the goal, anyway!

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  77. We are our own worst critics. I think we are reluctant to forgive ourselves because we may think we're being selfish.

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  78. Well said! I've never thought of it this way but it makes total sense. Something to work on for sure.

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  79. I dated one guy for a long time. He cheated on me, and wasn't honest with me. I had trouble letting that one go. Instead of walking away, I said things I shouldn't of. That was bad of me. It took awhile to let go, but I have.

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  80. Forgiveness is freedom. I used to judge myself harshly and when I let that go I gave myself permission to be good to myself and everyone else and that's when my life became mine.
    Have a bright day Keith!!!

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  81. Something we all need to do...daily. Imperfect, but still trying...

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  82. The power of forgiveness is supernatural...it must be. I know it's completely life changing but only when applied inside and out. Bless you my friend.

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  83. I'm on your side, Keith. We have to give one more chance to ourselves.And forgive!

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  84. I think it's easier to move past being hurt than it is to get over the idea of causing hurt.

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  85. Self forgiveness, works sometimes, and a few times, may be, won't ... depends !!!

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  86. Yes, I agree...it does seem to be more difficult to forgive ourselves, doesn't it?
    I guess that may be because we have to live with our own mistakes (or their aftermath!) 24/7!
    And you are right about not forgiving being toxic. When I have been holding a grudge in the past, it has made me feel totally unwell - so I try not to do that now.
    Yes...I try to forgive myself too! :)

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  87. I know about forgiving others ... forgiving myself, hmmm ... I tend to hide that in one of my many closets.

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  88. I've been really, really bad about keeping up with blog surfing the last week - too busy celebrating my birthday :-0 !!

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  89. That is a tough question. I never know if I have truly truly forgiven myself or even another or if I am just pretending. One thing is for certain that forgiving will save our energies and removes burdens. Thank you for a great post.

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  90. Yes, it's much easier to judge others than look inward. I think that's why we don't often forgive ourselves. I need to keep working on self-forgiveness. There are many things, even things I'm not fully aware of, I haven't really forgiven myself for. It's all about being human, though. Nice post, Keith. Thanks for pointing to the importance of self-forgiveness.

    xoRobyn

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  91. We are our worst critics, holding ourselves up to impossibly high standards and expectations. It takes time to soften.

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  92. Missed your comments Keith
    Love your new Facebook pic you old ham

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  93. Forgiving yourself is important, probably just as much as forgiving others. I am very critical of myself, I need to stop. Great post, enjoy your week ahead!

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  94. To be human is to err;
    to err is to be in the wrong;
    being in the wrong takes time to recognise and accept;

    and only then can we begin the process of forgiving ourselves.

    It takes time.

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  95. Doing that is the first step to getting stuff done. Being hard on yourself is so clogging

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  96. Hi Keith,

    I forgave myself the day I realised that my morals were intact. I'm comfortable with who I am. That is the beginning of forgiving oneself.

    In peace,

    Gary

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  97. O gosh, you already have 101 comment! Well I think that it is not really easy to forgive and for myself I had to really learn the process of how actually do it. Like a manual, step by step, otherwise is it just a cute statement that does not work. may be one day I will sit down and write it down so other people could learn, too. You can hear everywhere about "You need to forgive" but nobody says exactly how!

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  98. A great post, Keith, and a very necessary one. I also believe that forgiving ourselves is more difficult...we are often our own worst critics.
    And I do agree with you that it is of the utmost importance to do so. On a daily basis, in fact... :)
    Thank you for the inspiration...
    - Irina

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  99. You're a good soul, Keithish. I have a sense I've written something similar before--and it's true.

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  100. Yes I´ve had problems forgiving myself... as a perfectionist I am prone to punish myself when I do something that according to my point of view is wrong. Once I realized that, I could also understand how many mind filters I had about what was right or wrong that didn´t allow me to be more tolerant with myself... Now I try to be kind to myself... and I find easier forgiveness. And the more I love myself, the easier I find it.

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  101. I always have to look for forgiveness after I have eaten the entire chocolate bar even tho I promised myself I wont do it this time.

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  102. Hi Keith, I agree forgiving ourselves can help us move forward and bring peace within our hearts and mind.

    Madison:-)

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  103. Great post Keith. My wife Jilda works at a drug and rehab facility and her clients are military people and professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc) that have gotten too involved with drugs or alcohol.
    One of the themes she hears constantly is that because of their addictions, they've hurt so many people. All of them are burdened with guilt and regret.
    I think one of the first steps is to forgive yourself and then work on setting things right with others.

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  104. I agree. It's very hard to forgive oneself.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2014/02/dogwood-loves-dogs.html

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  105. I'm Ok in that department lately...it wasn't that way in my younger days...one good thing about aging, I guess.

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  106. I hate to admit it, but I actually think I have had the opposite in the past. I suppose it could be a good and bad thing. I don't mean that I can't forgive others, I simply mean that I don't feel the self-burden of needing to forgive myself, if that makes any sense. Guilt doesn't get the better of me. I'm learning that I need to feel a little more--it means I'm human!

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  107. For a long time, I held on to a guilt ~ Then one day, after much confession and prayers, I just decided to move on & forgive myself ~ I think we are too hard on ourselves ~ Thanks for the thought provoking post ~

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  108. Whoa, a page jumper for me. Needed to read this today. Blessings.
    Cortne

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  109. Do I ever have a problem with it? Every damn day. Not sure why that is, aside from myself I"m a very forgiving and compassionate person. Interesting thoughts.

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