It is easy to forgive others their mistakes, but much more difficult is the act of forgiveness for our own. The perfectionist who lives in the heart of every workaholic tends to berate and batter us for even the tiniest of missteps. As difficult as it is to forgive ourselves our blunders, it is harder still to forgive others for bearing witness to them. Again the illusion of control is at work within us as we aim to control ourselves and even the way in which others perceive us.
On the topic of forgiveness, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“How we hate to be seen as our most naked selves! We feel noble when we forgive others their awful mistakes, yet we become paralyzed with guilt and shame when we realize that they have caught us in our worst moments. It is so tempting to try to find something wrong with them and take the focus off what we have done. The best defense is a good offense, we have been told. How hard it is to let ourselves claim our own mistakes! Yet, also how freeing.
We have the possibility of not only forgiving those who have witnessed our mistakes but also of embracing them as a gift to help keep us honest.”
How easy it is to find fault in others who have witnessed our wrongdoings rather than accept our own shortcomings. I have caught myself on more than one occasion casting blame on others in an attempt to justify my own mistakes, or I have privately pointed out their flaws in order to make myself feel better about my own. It is very hard to be laid bare before someone and admit your imperfection. Yet, Anne is right—how freeing it is to simply admit our mistakes. Being honest about who we are feels far better than pretending to be someone we are not, and a large part of that is accepting ourselves, imperfections and all. To forgive ourselves for being less than perfect is to give ourselves the freedom and peace of mind to simply be who we are unabashedly.