• Why is self-forgiveness so hard?
• Why do I feel unforgivable?
• What is the difference between guilt and shame?
<offender>_ injured me by _<injustice>_.
As a result, I experienced _<damage>_ and __<consequences>__.
I have held this debt long enough.
I do not condone or excuse what they did – it was wrong and I was wronged.
I choose to release this debt.
<offender> doesn’t owe me anymore. I COMPLETELY release <offender>’s debt.
I forgive them completely.
Before we dig into forgiving ourselves, let’s recap some forgiveness basics since without understanding these concepts, we will have a tough time proceeding:
Forgiveness can't change your past, but it sure can change your future.
As long as you feel cheated or owed, the wound and pain remain. But as soon as you become willing to forgive the debt, the healing begins.
Important distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation:
Forgiveness is one side of a two-sided transaction and is subject to NOTHING from the other.
Reconciliation takes both sides – the offender and the offended.
Forgiving yourself REQUIRES reconcilation - more than simply forgiving. That is why it is so tough - you are both the offender and the offended.
Healing, freedom, forgiveness… does not downplay, ignore, or forget what happened – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I appeal to you to accept that accounting of all the pain that was caused and grieve the pain it caused.
It may hurt to open up a wound so it can finally heal properly.
Healing, freedom, forgiveness…does NOT mean that you will become like the way you were before you were wounded. There will be a scar. Somedays, even the scar hurts.
But healing means that you know what to do when that pain comes.
Healing, freedom, forgiveness…says that this is the ONLY way I can find freedom from carrying the load of pain, shame and blame is through forgiveness.
If we understand that forgiveness is only one part of a two-part transaction, it puts us in a tough position to forgive ourselves if we are the OFFENDER and the OFFENDED.
If forgiveness is one side and reconciliation is two sides, then to forgive ourselves means that we must be both sides – making this SO much tougher.
And then there is the 3rd person in the transaction if there is guilt or shame for what we’ve done to someone else. How can I ever forgive myself for what I’ve done to them? I can’t take it back, I can’t redo the past. It feels as though I will carry this guilt and shame in my backpack the rest of my life for what I did to her/him.
So for this to work…we have to break this down into the two parts:
Please forgive me for what I’ve done to me and possibly another. (as the offender)
I need to forgive me and ask for reconciliation. (as the offended)
ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
Be specific. Just like an accounting of the debt that we would be asking to write-off a debt, what EXACTLY are you asking for forgiveness?
Be honest and complete. If you were going to forgive a debt that is owed, you would have a FULL accounting of exactly what is being forgiven. Even if it hurts to bring up the pain once again, it is important not to proceed until you are willing to have this full accounting.
While detailing the hurt, it is important in asking for forgiveness to include more than just the 1) event(s), but also the 2) pain it caused, and the 3) consequences.
Note that any great apology has 3 parts: 1) what happened, 2) pain that resulted, and 3) the consequences.
1) I’m so sorry for hitting your arm with a bat. I really am. I fully acknowledge I was wrong.
2) I’m sorry that I broke your arm.
3) I’m so sorry it caused you to miss the golf tournament you’ve been wanting to play for the past year. That is on me. Please forgive me.
1) I’m truly sorry for cheating on you. I really am. I fully acknowledge I was wrong.
2) I’m sorry for the pain it caused you.
3) I’m sure the consequences of my actions meant that it took away your ability to trust – not just me but others. That is on me. Please forgive me.
That covers the apology for:
1) What happened
2) The damage caused
3) The consequences
BIG MOMENT: If you have a full accounting and can cover all three points of a great apology, then you are ready to proceed.
See why forgiving ourselves can be SO tough!
Let’s apply that to us now.
1) Take a full accounting - write it down if you need.
Account for what you really did – be real and specific.
Take a full accounting as to what damage it caused.
Take a full accounting as to the consequences it caused.
2) Apologize: “I’m so sorry that I did ____ and it caused ____ damage, resulting in ________.”
3) You can now switch gears now to the side of you who needs to forgive.