Forgiveness is tricky. Too often, when referring to self-forgiveness, it is equated with a lack of self-reflection. As if the only way to forgive oneself is to deny the gravity of what occurred. It just feels too bad to remember that…stuff, especially when that stuff involved another person, and especially when that person is someone we care for. And, too often, when referring to forgiving another, we assume forgiveness of the past grants permission for toxic people to have any place in our future.
Jerry Jampolsky said it best in “Letting Go of Fear”, forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.
What happened, happened. Now what?
For self-forgiveness, especially for those of us who struggle with shame…a little Maya Angelou (actually a lot of Maya Angelou) is the best medicine. And this quote in particular: Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better. It really is that simple. Every day make the intention to do the best you can; and learn and study and grow and explore and vow to be the best you can be. That is all you can do. Be at peace with that.
And when it comes to forgiving another? We don’t forgive for the other person; we forgive for ourselves. We forgive so that we can let go of the past. But, forgiving another doesn’t mean we have no boundaries or standards. It doesn’t mean that we deny our feelings or needs or grant ourselves agency to protect ourselves from toxic relationships.
What happened, happened. And the now what depends on what feels healthy and appropriate and loving.
I’m big on intentions. And an intention we can make every day is to be kind and loving—to ourselves and others—and to remember that a huge aspect of kindness and love is protection—protecting ourselves from our own toxic thoughts and protecting ourselves from toxic relationships.