Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Forgiving Yourself

Sometimes the hardest person for you to forgive … is you.

People tend to be quite gracious toward others, but incredibly hard on ourselves. Guilt, self-punishment, and second guessing one’s own actions are enormous burdens to try to carry through life. And often we can carry them around for years and years.

Why is learning how to forgive one’s self so difficult? Why does it seem to be so much easier to forgive others than ourselves? Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Dr. Joretta Marshall, professor of pastoral care at the Eden Theological Seminary says, “I think people often try to forgive themselves for the wrong things. We think we ought to forgive ourselves for being human and making human mistakes. People don't have to forgive themselves for being who they are.” (

In other words, it may be hard to forgive ourselves because it is hard to separate our identity from our actions. If you do something that harms another person, and you realize it, it is your action that needs forgiveness, not your identity. Learning how to forgive the action will often help release the burden on the self, and lead to healthier actions down the road.

Forgiveness does not condone your act; quite the opposite - forgiveness acknowledges that the act was wrong. And forgiveness does not altogether eliminate the consequences of your act; those consequences likely must still be faced, and forgiveness is what empowers you to face them.

To forgive yourself, then, is actually quite a selfless move to make. You acknowledge that you were wrong, begin to atone with those you harmed, and address the consequences unencumbered with guilt or self-loathing. It may be very difficult, but ultimately it makes a world of difference.

1 comment:

Kansas Bob said...

"People don't have to forgive themselves for being who they are."

Simply outstanding! Thanks Andy!