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Self-forgiveness | Why It Matters and How to Achieve It

self forgiveness

Free Yourself: The Powerful Guide to Self-Forgiveness

The start of this current decade has presented humanity with unprecedented challenges. And, of course, that is not to say that people around the world have faced numerous challenges before! So this piece is intended to bring a little light in what can sometimes feel like a sea of darkness. Self-forgiveness

Health, mental health, finances, family, and a sense of purpose for our life on this planet can all represent areas where we are doing well or we are struggling to the point where life feels like a challenge.

First of all, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that we all struggle with stuff. Struggling doesn’t make us different in a bad way or a failure.

Even the people whose social media profiles tell the story of an utterly happy and almost perfect life to have their issues to deal with.


So let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that the Jones’ so many of us have spent hours and tremendous effort trying to keep up with don’t exist.

Next let’s look at what really matters in life: how we feel. How connected we feel to ourselves and others. Both mental and physical health will be directly affected here.

I have found that this sense of connection is often blocked by the things we don’t like about ourselves and sometimes other people. We may say, until this person changes, I will never feel better. But let’s unpack this a little. It’s not what this person is doing that makes us feel a certain way but our interpretation of what this means for us. Often we take things personally that have nothing to do with us. If we look a little closer, we may notice that this person is reacting a certain way because of their story, and their struggles, not because of how they think or feel about us.

I invite you to pause, breathe take a closer look the next time someone triggers you, and ask yourself ‘does this really have anything to do with me?’ or is this a reflection of how they feel about themselves and life in general? And often when we have a strong reaction to someone it’s because of something in our history that we still carry with us.

Something that may have happened long ago. So my next invitation is that the next time you feel triggered, follow the thoughts and see where they take you. My guess is that your strongest triggers can be traced back to earlier times in your life. Often childhood.

It likely has little to do with the current situation but more to do with how someone made you feel at a time when you perhaps didn’t have the voice you do now as an adult.

This is not to say that we should blindly accept what other people say or do because it comes from difficult times in their lives. It’s simply an invitation to help you deal with situations from a place of much greater calm and self-awareness. When we are not triggered but present we can respond in ways that serve us so much better.

And in order to get to this calmer place there is another piece I would like to bring into this ‘conversation’. And that is a powerful tool for self-forgiveness.

It was a tool or technique I learned a few years ago and it has stood me in incredible stead.

I’m not talking about forgiving myself for things I have said and done per se. I’m talking about a deeper level. The level of feelings, emotions, and stories. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and life. Often stories that keep us stuck, stories that make us smaller that the awesome beings we all are.

self forgiveness

Let me give you an example. In working with a spiritual coach, I uncovered a story that I had carried for years. The typical story of ‘not being enough’. It was a powerful story I would pull out of the proverbial on a regular basis. Sometimes it would just make me feel sad and withdrawn, other times it would make me angry but it would always elicit a response… until I learned that this was just a part of me, a story (a convincing one mind you) that I chose to go to.

Not a fundamental truth about who I am. I practiced (and still do) forgiving this voice or story whenever it comes up. I know it’s just a little but loud part of me that is fighting for its existence. What has been amazing is to realize that this isn’t ME, who I am, but a voice that was formed at a time when it felt like a way to protect myself (perhaps from criticism, I don’t rightly know and it’s not important in this case).

And that when I say ‘ok, voice, you are here I accept that and I forgive you for what you are saying right now’, I can begin to step out from underneath it and I’m back in the driver’s seat and I can make the choice whether to act or react from this small, frightened place or whether I would rather respond from my adult self that knows a bigger truth about me and every other human being I come into contact with.

Read How to be proficient in Emotional Intelligence

I invite you to try it for yourself. The next time you have strong negative reactions to something, take a moment to recognize how you feel and what is going on for you. See if you can find out what the voices in your mind are telling you (you’re not good enough, successful enough, or whatever it is for you), and then bring a little acceptance and forgiveness to this voice.

Maybe play around with it, tell it you hear it, and know it has good intentions but that these are no longer serving you). You can do this in the quiet of your own mind, you can write it down or if you need to say it out loud, find a private space that will allow you to do this.

I hope this technique will serve you as much as it has me!

And lastly, if you are unwell either physically or mentally, I urge you to seek professional help.

Written by Elizabeth Bagger

She supports individual family businesses on their journey towards more harmonious family dynamics, stronger family governance, next-generation engagement, integration, and education. Being the founder of Avanti Family Business Advisory, she works with family businesses and believes family businesses deserve engaged, bespoke, and tailored advice to their unique situation.

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