Forgiveness is tricky. Usually we associate forgiving with acceptance but this doesn't have to be the case; forgiveness is letting go of the pain associated with the situation, and deciding it no longer rules your life. What's done is done, the only thing you have control over now is how it effects you.
There are many times I held onto anger and pain longer than I should have. I used to let it make me physically sick, ruin my day or worse, relationships with others. After I sat back and thought about whether or not someone close to me "deserved" for me to forgive them; I realized, I am the only one who is hurting this much. I was basically punishing myself at the time and I am not the one who even did it! When I read the quote, "Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die"-Unknown, it ALL made sense to me finally! That's exactly what was happening, it was like I was the one drinking poison but the whole time I was expecting the other person to hurt just as badly as I was. It doesn't work that way, come to find out.
I set out on a journey to forgive other people at first. I tried and tried and tried for months. Meditated. Meditated. Meditated. NOTHING WAS WORKING. NOTHING. I was getting so frustrated...ummm hello....THAT WAS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I WANTED TO FEEL!! It suddenly hit me one day while meditating that perhaps to forgive others, I must forgive myself. Kinda along the lines of, you can't love anyone else until you love yourself first.
So I set out to forgive myself presently and always. I first start by tracking down the first time I truly lost trust in myself. You see, I am a dancer. Ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom--you name it, I dig it. When I was younger my step dad and mother were getting a divorce and this threw me into a very deep depression. At the time I couldn't fathom getting out of bed or leaving my sweet, trusting friends to go dance, when I simply didn't have the energy. My mom and step dad tried so hard to get me back in the dance studio, but I just couldn't do it anymore. (But thanks mom and dad, for trying so hard, I had to learn this lesson the hard way--like 15 years later!) At the time, my best friend had moved away also, and dancing was always a passion we had shared together, so I was also angry that I didn't have her anymore and missed her so dearly. Now that I look back I can see it plain as day; that is when I started to lose trust in myself. My body needs fluid movement to let go of painful emotions. Did you know trauma will stay STUCK in your cells if you let it? Enter autoimmune conditions and disease. Well, that's what I ended up doing for a very long time, letting it sit and fester in my body. I didn't have a way of physically expressing myself anymore. I deleted it from my life, I withheld that divine expression from myself.
Once I had that AH HA moment, it got easier. I felt the pain of the situation (and I still do, believe me, it doesn't go away 100%) but just pin pointing that exact moment made a huge difference. Daily I began to tell myself, "I forgive myself for not being authentic" because now I know, dance and yoga are a big part of me remaining authentic, because if I do not release my emotions in this physical sense, it will bleed over into every other part of my life and I will shut down. So I make sure to incorporate these practices as much as I can, I continue my self love affirmations and always will, and most of all, I am gentle with myself. Since beginning that combo it finally shifted and one day I felt different. I had truly forgiven myself.
After that I decided to start forgiving other people. The first time I did it, it was magical. There is really no other way to describe it. It felt like I lost 50 pounds off my neck, my shoulder and back. I felt empowered. I felt powerful. I felt strong. It is so hard to describe, but I truly think if I hadn't forgiven myself, there is no way I would have forgiven anyone else. By forgiving myself, I allowed space to forgive others, and that my dear is what Self Esteem Saturday is all about. Small changes make a world of difference and build our self worth and love.