Self-forgiveness is an act of love that ripples into the world and creates more love
Are the words SELF and SELFISH linked in your mind?
I can still picture the way the muscles on my mother's face changed when she said the word SELFISH. Her stance on being selfish was unquestionably clear. Unfortunately, her definition of selfishness was born from the misguided programming she learned as a child. As an adult, I can notice that what I was conditioned to think of as selfish was not an accurate or healthy definition of the word; but generational programming has deep roots and plenty of opportunities for reinforcement. That early programming can run in our unconscious before we even notice enough to question what we think we know.
One of my old scripts was a link between the words self and selfish. Which means that there was a time in my life that I wouldn't have even been able to hear the words self-forgiveness, let alone contemplate them with curiosity.
OF + COURSE = a path towards self-compassion
As children, if our safety and belonging relied on us buying into a belief, then OF COURSE we would have adopted that belief. It was the wisest and most adaptive thing we could have done at the time. But sometimes, what was once adaptive, is no longer. One of my teachers, Terry Real, says "adaptive then, maladaptive now". That phrase (which he credits to his teacher Pia Mellody), is a game changer.
Of + Course paired together are a pathway towards self-compassion. And self-compassion is a gateway to self-forgiveness. Imagine what it might feel like to receive and believe these words:
OF COURSE that made sense given what you knew then. OF COURSE you would have craved safety and belonging as a baby. OF COURSE once you ran that programming over and over throughout your childhood, your human mind would have created a thought habit. OF COURSE your behaviors are influenced by those unconscious thought habits.
Self-Forgiveness as an Act of Love
If you are experiencing that discordant feeling some of us have when we think about prioritizing ourselves, my invitation to you is to consider holding that thought a little more loosely. Self-forgiveness is NOT selfish. Self-forgiveness is a path to internal harmony which leads to a deeper capacity to show up for ourselves and for others in healthy ways.
There are tools and techniques that can support us to unlearn our outdated programming. Check out our Programs & Classes to learn more
Context Is Important
If this were an article about self-forgiveness for a broader audience, the main course of our discussion would include: a compassionate reminder to be accountable for your own actions; take a look to notice what you've learned and how you can grow from the experience; if another person was impacted by your choices, make amends (if it's appropriate to do so).
As valid and important as that information is, for those of us that lean on the other-ish side, we are likely to already be doing some or all of those steps reflexively. What we may not be doing without a reminder is pointing compassion towards ourselves. Or, we may not be witnessing ourselves with kindness and understanding.
One Step At A Time
A starting point may be to remember to separate the behavior from who you are.
Whether you are taking over-responsibility for a situation (a common symptom of those of us that were programmed to lean other-ish), you've made a mistake (because you are human, and humans make mistakes), you did something that was outside of your integrity (again, because you are human, and humans are fallible), you are still absolutely worthy of love and self-forgiveness. I promise you. I don't need to know you and I don't need to know what you are remorseful for to know that your worth is not tied to your behavior. What I can tell you is that as you follow your path towards self-forgiveness, you are making a positive difference.
Self-forgiveness is an act of love that ripples into the world and creates more love.
Dipping A Toe Into Self-Forgiveness
There are a wide range of situations self-forgiveness applies, which means our forward paths will be unique to our circumstances. However, for each of us and in each situation, a helpful starting point is to welcome self-compassion and self-kindess into our lives. If that feels hard, I get it. Breaking free of outdated programming takes effort, but you don't have to do it without a roadmap. Please feel welcome to check out our Programs & Classes page and join us for one of our trainings.
We'll be exploring this topic and more at our free reMothering Masterclass. Join the newsletter to stay posted on our upcoming events.
Article written by:
Simona Vivi H
Simona Vivi Hadjigeorgalis is the founder of reMothering.org, a collaborative space where industry leaders create remothering resources for independent-learning. Simona also has a private coaching practice at The Center for Remothering.