The 4Rs of forgiveness

Forgiveness is sometimes described as a conscious decision to let go of feelings of anger, bitterness, and retaliation against someone who has wronged you. However, while you may be a generous forgiver of others, you may be a harsh critic of yourself. In these COVID- 19 times when we are daily struggling to help someone in need, trying our best to save the lives of our loved ones, we sometimes forget that we can provide help only to a certain extend. We might also feel responsible for someone else getting affected by the virus. However, the situation is so uncertain and unpredictable that we can’t blame ourselves entirely. It is thus important that we become more compassionate and kind not only to others but to ourselves as well and practice self-forgiving behavior.

Holding grudges and being unforgiving raises our stress levels and has a negative impact on our health. The good news is that we can learn skills to help us be more positive and successful in acknowledging and correcting our mistakes while also growing as individuals.

When to Forgive yourself

When discontentment or bitterness is coming in the way of other things in your life, it’s time to forgive yourself. Many people have a critical voice in their heads that constantly criticizes their every step. Forgiveness does not imply that you are not upset at yourself, but it does imply that you do not hate yourself. No one can humiliate us more than we can humiliate ourselves. Thus, when you recognize that this resentment is interfering with your daily life and is hampering your mental health and well-being, it’s time you forgive yourself. 

Why forgive yourself

  • Mental Health Allowing yourself to forgive yourself and letting go will make you feel more at ease and strengthen your self-image. Numerous studies have shown that people who practice self-forgiveness have lower levels of depression and anxiety. Self-compassion has also been linked to increased levels of performance, efficiency, attention, and concentration.
  • Physical Health Forgiveness will also have a positive effect on your physical well-being. According to studies, forgiving will lower the risk of a heart attack by improving cholesterol levels, reducing bodily pain, and blood  pressure.
  • Relationships Good relationships often require you to have a caring and forgiving attitude toward yourself. It’s important to be able to form strong emotional bonds with others, but it’s also important to be able to restore those bonds when they become strained or weakened.

How to forgive yourself

The 4 R’s of Self-Forgiveness:

  • Responsibility The first step toward self-forgiveness is to face what you have done or what has occurred. It’s also the most difficult. If you’ve been trying to make excuses, rationalizing, or justifying your decisions to make them appear justified, now is the time to own up to your mistakes. You can escape negative feelings like extreme remorse and shame by acknowledging responsibility and accepting that you have done things that have affected others.
  • Remorse You can experience negative emotions such as guilt and shame as a result of taking full responsibility. It’s perfectly natural, even safe, to feel bad after you’ve done something wrong. Guilt and shame can be used as a springboard for constructive behavior modification.   
  • Restoration Even if the one you’re forgiving is yourself, making amends is an important aspect of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself is more likely to stick until you feel like you’ve earned it, just as you may not forgive anyone else until they’ve issued an apology in some way. Taking steps to correct your mistakes is one way to step beyond your remorse. If necessary, apologize and see how you can make amends to those you have wronged. This part of the procedure may seem to help only the person you’ve wronged, but there’s something in it for you as well. You’ll never have to wonder if you should have done better if you fix your mistake.  
  • Renewal Finding a way to learn from your mistakes and improve as an individual is also part of forgiving yourself. To do so, you must first comprehend why you acted in the way you did and why you felt guilty. Focus on what precautions will you take to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. Yes, you made a mistake, but it was a valuable lesson that will help you make better decisions in the future.

There is a proven process you can follow. It involves navigating our feelings and consciously deciding to let it go, here’s how. Get a piece of paper and a pen, and write down these questions, and your responses.

Who was this person? How did [this person] make me feel?

What is it that they did that hurt me so much?

What consequences are there for forgiving this person?

How is holding on to this affecting my life?

Imagine the person is seated in front of you.
What would you tell them?

Forgive yourself

A major aspect of general well-being is being able to let go and forgive ourselves and our own mistakes. The following questions can help us do just that.

What did I do and how did it make me feel?

I acknowledge that I was wrong in…

I do deserve to be forgiven because…

In the future, I will ensure that…

The learning from this incident:

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