“I feel bad.”
Unfortunately these 3 words come out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit. I be guilt trippin’. If you're like me, most of the time we feel bad about things that are ridiculous, and other times we feel guilty for falling short of our being best selves.
But regardless, forgiveness is the space where that unwanted situation can transform into a blessing. And who doesn’t want that?
At it’s best function guilt can help us learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat the past. But when we use it as more than a learning tool, we corrupt that function by missing the lesson and getting stuck in the past, reinforcing the transgression.
Peace, self-acceptance, and love are all waiting for us NOW while we’re busy should-ing all over ourselves about the past.
What worry is to the future, guilt is to the past. Essentially we're allowing our present experience to be dominated by something that doesn’t even exist anymore… we are keeping it alive in our heads. Forgiveness essentially means being present and in this space, everything drops and all we're left with is the opportunity to choose better in this situation.
Guilt gives us the false promise of feeling better about the situation.
We think if I feel bad enough than the feeling will go away, right? Nope. The only way out of this one is self forgiveness. But how exactly do you self forgive and quit the “I feel bad” habit? Unfortunately there’s no forgiveness patch that we can just slap on so here are 3 tools:
Start with recognizing that our guilt serves no one, not even the very people we feel bad about doing or not doing whatever we did or didn’t do to them.
Most of us are harder on ourselves than we are on other people. If you’re able to forgive others, you’ll find it easier to forgive yourself. Do it out of self interest if needed, but start forgiving.
Realize the lesson
Ask yourself, if there was a lesson here, what would it be? When you learn the lesson, everything that you experienced will make sense and you’ll be able to choose better.
Remember that self forgiveness is not a one time deal. Kyle Gray reminds us that forgiveness is a state of being that you keep coming back to when you steer off the path.