Forgive Yourself and Then Others


Forgiveness is the gift that we give to ourselves. I know this may sound crazy if you are deeply suffering at this moment. I’ve had many, many times in my life where I have felt wronged, betrayed or deeply hurt by other people. Sometimes I was so angry that forgiveness did indeed seem impossible. In the middle of the storm it was hard to see beyond the fog of pain and the subsequent anger. Fortunately I have come to understand through the practice of forgiveness just how powerful this act of letting go can be.




Many of us carry a terrible burden of guilt or shame for things that we have done in the past, things that were done to us in the past, or for our perceived failure to live up to other people’s expectations. This is especially true for childhood survivors of emotional, sexual and physical abuse, as well as adult survivors of domestic abuse. Perpetrators are masters at placing blame upon their victims and rarely take responsibility for their misdeeds. This is how people with narcissistic personality disorders operate. They blame their victims for their own actions. This behavior is so damaging to the spirit of a survivor and can give them the false impression that they are unloveable. It can also cause a host of chronic health problems.

Through awareness we can come to understand why we feel this way and to let go of these deep seated feelings of inadequacy, brokenness, shame and guilt. We can also heal our bodies as we heal our souls. One way to do this is to forgive yourself for feeling this way, knowing that you were taken advantage of by someone who had power over you. You may never get an apology from the person who abused you, but forgiving yourself is a power that you do possess. 

Photography by PaUL GARRETT

Photography by PaUL GARRETT

Do what you can to free yourself from the past so that you can live more fully in the present without harboring grudges and anxiety. Those toxic emotions that you were force to stuff down have the potential to become like poison in your body, your spirit and to your emotional health. Be aware that our minds, our bodies and our spirits are all connected and collectively suffer when we are angry or in pain. Our health and well being stand upon these three legs. So love and forgive yourself. You deserve to live a beautiful life that is free from a troubling past.


Forgiving others is a powerful act of letting go, as well. It does not mean that we will forget what was done to us. Nor does the act of forgiveness let those who harmed us off of the hook for want they did. Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to let go of the past and move forward with your life. It is also a way of accepting that the future will not be what you thought it would be with this person. Furthermore, it does not obligate you to continue to have a relationship with the person who harmed you. Setting new boundaries is often essential. In cases where you still want to have a relationship with that person, forgiveness can start the healing process that is necessary for reconciliation. This was the case with my ex wife and me. We both forgave each other and over time we were able to become really good friends once again. 

When we truly let go, we give ourselves space to process our pent up emotions and release them. This is extremely important because there is a powerful connection between unprocessed emotions and dis-ease within our bodies.

Every time you think about someone who has wronged you, the amygdala in your lizard brain lights up and activates your “fight-or-flight” response, stimulating your adrenal glands to pump out cortisol and triggering your sympathetic nervous system to go into overdrive. Next thing you know, BOOM. Your heart races, your respiratory rate increases, stomach acid gets pumped out, and – worst of all – the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms get flipped off, putting you at greater risk of everything from heart disease to cancer.
— Lissa Rankin, MD

The previous quote is from Dr. Rankin’s blog post called, “A Lesson In Grace” at If you are on the healing path, I highly recommend that you read her book called, “Mind Over Medicine.” It will give you an eye opening view of our healthcare system and also provide you with an action plan to help you live a healthy life.

If you find yourself feeling like you cannot forgive the person who hurt you, try these helpful tips from the staff at the Mayo Clinic:


• Practice empathy. Try seeing the situation from the other person's point of view.

• Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.

• Reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you.

• Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.

• Be aware that forgiveness is a process, and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.


The third aspect of forgiveness is to apologize and take responsibility for your actions when you have hurt another person. This is also an act of letting go and the first step in healing a broken relationship.

As people we are imperfect. Life is a school after all and we hopefully learn from our mistakes. One thing that is certain is that we are going to hurt or be hurt by others along this journey through life. How we respond to these painful situations can have lasting consequences, especially if we become entangled in shame, bitterness, self pity and anger. To live a Total Soulful Journey it is necessary for us to let go of the past and forgiveness is vital to this process.

If you have wronged someone, move beyond your shame and your pride and sincerely apologize for what you have done. Better yet, acknowledge how you have affected the other person's feelings. This will not only create an awareness within you that will help you to not repeat the same offense again, it will also show the person that your apology is sincere. Compassion, empathy and love are great healers. They bridge gaps, tear down walls and lay the groundwork for repairing the damage that has been done.

5 Steps to Take When You Seek Forgiveness: 

  1. Acknowledge the offense to the person you hurt.
  2. Apologize for how it made them feel.
  3. Take responsibly for your words and actions.
  4. Make a full hearted effort to not commit the offense ever again.
  5. Forgive yourself and work to become a better person.

Trust is essential to healthy relationships. To regain a person’s trust takes time and a conscious effort to show that you can be trusted once again.




Finally, there is an important spiritual aspect to forgiveness. What we do to others, is then done to us. Some call this The Law of Cause & Effect or Karma. What matters is that we do our best to forgive and let go so that we can learn our lessons and move forward in a way that honors our souls and the people who we love. Forgiveness is a process that requires practice. Be gentle on yourself and have patience. Over time you will see the rewards of letting go through forgiveness and the pain that once consumed you will eventually lose its sting. Also know that forgiving is a sign of strength and not a weakness. It will bring you freedom and peace of mind. It is also vital to your health and a Total Soulful Journey.

Wishing you happiness and forgiveness,


Next on up on the blog: 

Accept What You Cannot Change Without Judgement

Here's a reminder of what we are covering in this 10 part series:

Top Ten Tips for Transforming Your Life

    1    Start now with what you have

    2    F.L.Y. (First Love Yourself)

    3    Listen to your Intuition

    4    Deepen your awareness

    5    Forgive yourself, and then others (do not hold grudges)

    6    Accept what you cannot change without judgement

    7    Take the masks off and be authentic (vulnerability is a good thing)

    8    Let go of what no longer serves your highest good

    9    Practice gratitude

    10    Trust the Universe


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