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We don’t always do the right thing. Whether we mean to or not, sometimes our actions cause people pain. Sometimes we make mistakes so large, it feels impossible to fix the damage done. Our spiritual studies teach us that our mistakes are meant to help us grow, but sometimes we just can’t find a way to forgive ourselves.
"The Creator wants so much more for us."
The ancient kabbalists teach that the Creator loves us unconditionally, and in order to become closer to Him, we must strive to be as loving and compassionate to each other as He is. When we see only the good in people and learn to forgive them for their mistakes, we reveal a tremendous amount of Light in the world. But we often forget that we must also find compassion for ourselves.
When we don’t forgive ourselves, it has a similar effect as when we don’t forgive others. We hold onto the past and let it continue to influence our actions and the way we treat people. We may become self-destructive, angry, stressed, or riddled with guilt – all of which can put a tremendous strain on the people around us. It can be a vicious cycle that leads us to continually hurt ourselves and our loved ones.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind in the struggle for self-forgiveness:
1. The Light has a part in our actions, even the ones we regret.
Remember that the Creator has a hand in the mistakes we make, no matter how terrible they may seem. We see only a small piece of the big picture and can never fully comprehend the way the Creator works. The important thing is that we trust that the Creator wants what is best for us and for the world. When we harbor guilt and judgment for ourselves, we are actually pulling away from the Creator. Not only are we not acting like the Creator, we are also doubting His role in our lives.
2. Forgiving ourselves is a promise that we will do better in the future.
Forgiving ourselves does not mean that we do not take accountability for our actions. On the contrary, it means we are willing to listen and learn from the experience so that we can avoid repeating our mistakes in the future. Likewise, it allows us to guide others to make different choices in their lives.
3. Pain is not our punishment.
When something goes wrong, we tend to think the Creator is punishing us. It is easy to think we should feel guilty, shameful, or angry at ourselves, because we deserve to feel bad. But the truth is the Creator wants so much more for us. It is only when we lose our certainty in the Creator that we feel sadness, anger, or guilt. When we connect to the Creator, aligning our thoughts and actions with His, we understand that everything is a blessing, even when we cannot see it.
4. Forgiveness is a transformative process.
The pain we feel when we make a mistake is actually an incredible opportunity to push ourselves to be better. It reminds us who we are at our core and who we can become. Forgiveness is the way that we forge ahead with experience and understanding to become better versions of ourselves.
5. Forgiveness is freedom from the pain and anger.
When we harbor resentment towards ourselves, we keep ourselves prisoners to the past. We have a choice to hate ourselves or to love ourselves the way the Creator does.
As difficult as it is to forgive others, it is sometimes harder yet to forgive ourselves. We want to be good people. We want to be perfect like the Creator. But our souls are going through the difficult process of earning the Light of the Creator. This means that we make mistakes, face challenges, and stumble along the way. But it also means that we can stand up again and choose to continue to move forward.
That is the power of forgiving ourselves.