Forgiveness is essential if we are to find any peace in this life. Of course, before we can forgive others, we must be able to forgive ourselves. We are only human after all. We make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are the result of a lack of experience; other times we simply make bad decisions out of fear, hurt or anger. The ability to accept the mistakes of ourselves and others and own them for what they are is the first step in forgiveness.
On the topic of forgiveness, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Forgiveness has to start with the self. To forgive ourself does not mean that we condone or support everything we have done. It means that we own it. We claim it. We accept that we were in the wrong, and we move on.
Often, when we recognize that we are in the wrong, we slip into our self-centeredness, becoming so absorbed and arrogant in berating ourselves that we never quite reach a stage of forgiveness. To forgive we have to let go and move on. If we do not know how to do that with ourselves, we can never forgive others.”
Letting go is hard. The perfectionist’s struggle with forgiveness is twofold: We loathe to admit our mistakes because we are afraid to be anything less than perfect, and we beat ourselves up for our mistakes all the time. It’s hard to move past them. We have to let go of our self-absorption though and recognize that people everywhere, including ourselves, are just doing the best we can with the capacities we have. Holding on to guilt, spite, anger and resentment end up only hurting ourselves.