Tears ran down her face as she asked me, “How do I forgive myself?”
Forgiveness is a critical step toward a healthy life, and you can only take it after you’ve had the courage to face the truth. It’s easier to move on — just not in a positive direction — while you’re still lying to yourself about what you did or who’s to blame.
If lying to yourself seems far-fetched, consider a few facts:
~ Many people think it’s OK to tell a white lie.
~ Some think it’s OK to cheat a little on their taxes.
~ Some think what a partner doesn’t know won’t hurt
him (or her).
You probably don’t blatantly deny your behavior, but there’s a good chance you justify some of it. And justification often implies trying to make something “wrong” less wrong. But is there really such a thing as less wrong? White lies and black lies? Innocent cheating and tainted cheating?
The truth has a way of catching up with us. And when it does, we are forced to deal with it. Running from the truth is exhausting. And it’s like running from a police officer; you can’t do it (except in the movies) without digging yourself into a deeper hole.
Stop and face the music. It’s the first step toward freedom. And it’s sweeter than you think.
“Have confidence in the truth, although you may not be able to comprehend it, although you may suppose its sweetness to be bitter, although you may shrink from it at first. Trust in the truth … have faith in the truth and live it,” said Buddha.
Once we accept the truth and trust it, we also begin to trust ourselves … and that means trusting ourselves to learn from our “mistakes.” Talk about freedom! And with the freedom to make mistakes comes the freedom to succeed.
Success can’t be had without a few falls. That in itself inspires forgiveness. And if you learn a valuable lesson from falling on your butt, you know you’re less apt to make the same blunder.
Knowing that you won’t be unfaithful again can help you to forgive a betrayal. Knowing that you no longer feel compelled to pretty up the truth helps you to forgive the lies you thought you needed to enhance your image.
When you let your guard down enough to admit that you botched it, you’re vulnerable, and vulnerability is endearing (think Oprah Winfrey and her battle with weight).
When you mess up, it hurts. Don’t pretend it doesn’t — even if your parents did teach you that “big boys don’t cry.” Allow yourself to feel the pain, instead of jumping to justification or blame. Be a good parent to yourself; tell yourself it hurts but it’s OK, and that next time you’ll be more careful.
Even when you dodge the truth, you still know the truth, so you set up an internal conflict. And you’re automatically afraid of being found out. It is you against you, and you against the rest of the world. I remember coming off as aloof when I wanted very much to be approved of, even admired. That’s deception.
When you face the truth, learn from it and forgive yourself. You can stop running and stop carrying a defensive sword in case you get caught.
You can be you — free to fall and free to soar.
And as a bonus, when you forgive yourself, you’ll be able to forgive everybody else. You will no longer be motivated to point to their errors in order to make yourself look better. You can let go of that harsh judgment of others and show them the same understanding and compassion that you’ve learned to show yourself.