Forgiving Myself is the Key to Happiness
Editor's Note: As part of the H&L Writes monthly writing membership, our writers have the opportunity to get their writing featured on our blog. Click here to find out more and sign up. We hope you enjoy this selected piece on forgiveness. Congratulations, Marietta!
Words by Marietta Goldman
Forgiveness has been an ongoing theme for me in recent years and I do believe it is one of the very soul lessons that I was put on this planet to wrap my head around.
For most of my life I believed that I could forgive fairly easily.
I forgave the impatient driver in his sports car who cut me off on the highway when I was comfortably doing the speed limit.
I forgave the overwhelmed mom in the supermarket whose feisty kids kept crashing their cart into mine and had no intention of listening to her plea to stop.
I forgave the abrupt female executive who was obviously late for a meeting and couldn’t find the kindness to hold the elevator door for me.
I even forgave the interventional radiologist when he decided to quickly remove a tube from my kidney that left me in excruciating pain.
So, as you can see, forgiveness is not a problem for me… OR IS IT?
Each of these scenarios involved forgiving a complete stranger - someone who just popped into my life for a short time. Sure, it’s easier with someone you don’t have a relationship with. There are no past hurts or opportunities to feel vulnerable or exposed when others get let in to see your deepest scars.
It’s way easier for me to be kind to people that I will most likely never see again.
I have always felt like I have good karma – after all, I would hold the elevator door, let another driver make a turn in front of me, and even take responsibility at work when something didn’t go according to plan.
So, why do I share this with you?
The truth for me is that I have been on a journey of self-discovery and one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that our bodies are connected to the thoughts we think and the words we speak. When we hold onto resentments and deep hurts and are unable to find a way to forgive, the body lets us know it is paying attention by bringing on illness or disease.
Cancer is an illness that is connected to forgiveness.
It is a wake up call that something in our life is not working and needs to change.
I have struggled with this one for close to 8 years. I did a forgiveness inventory and went back in time and made a list of all the people I was ready to forgive. It seemed easy enough… I said their names, took a few deep breaths, sent them love, and agreed to let go of the hurt I had been carrying. Now I am not going to lie, some names were harder than others to forgive but I agreed to keep trying until it felt more comfortable. I wrote the names down, wished each of them well, and then burned the names to symbolically release and let go of the hurt.
I worked really hard to step up and honor all the past boyfriends who didn’t love me back, my college roommate who put guys above our relationship, my parents who were young and did the best they could raising three small kids on a tight budget, and even my husband for one too many eye rolls.
Sounds a little wacky, I know, but it worked for me. I felt good. I was a bit lighter and happy to move forward. I did it. I forgave and now I felt free to live a long healthy life without any disease.
Of course, the Universe had different plans for me. There was still this gentle nudge reminding me that something was off.
And then it hit me: I had forgotten all about forgiving myself.
Forgiving others was just one step – a small piece of a much larger puzzle. The real work began when I learned that I had to come clean and forgive myself. This was going to be a tough one. I had spent so many years blaming myself for all things not perfect that I had no idea where to begin.
How was I going to be able to forgive myself when I wasn’t even sure who I was or if I even liked myself?
Thus began a new mission – one that I have labeled a return to self-love. My journey to find pleasure and easily digest life couldn’t really begin until I looked in the mirror and was OK with the reflection I saw. I knew that for a shift to happen I had to be willing to connect with my soul and realize that my physical body is here to help me fulfill my life mission.
I had to step back and stop blaming myself for getting cancer in the first place. I had to let go of taking blame for all the not-so-perfect things my kids did when they were younger. I had to forgive myself for not knowing how to express my feelings with my family and friends and be gentle and kind with myself as I learned a new way. I had to say sorry for all the times that I retreated and isolated because I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.
When I created the space to honor who I really was – the good, the bad, and the ugly - I began to see that I was pretty awesome.
Who knew that once I forgave myself for not being perfect, the need to be perfect would melt away? Self-forgiveness was exactly what I needed to find my way home again.
Today, I have learned that when I blame myself and am not kind to myself I get stuck in negative patterns and don’t do a good job at nourishing my body, mind, and soul. When I am gentle and kind with myself and lead with my heart my relationships are less likely to cause pain. By being kinder to myself, I create kinder relationships with others.
When I honor who I am, it makes it easier to say thank you for any experiences that may feel challenging. I get to step back, see the gift in my struggles and remember that forgiveness is the key to unlimited amounts of happiness.
When I take the 10,000-foot view, much like the hawks that circle over my head each day, I am reminded that forgiveness helps me to release control and see the bigger picture so I can really soar.
Forgiveness is not a one and done thing. Opportunities for forgiveness will keep coming up to remind us of the way life connects us to other people. I know that now. I also know that by changing my perceptions about the basic good in people and agreeing to always lead with my heart, forgiveness is far less overwhelming. It happens much more naturally now, in a way that makes sense and helps keep me grounded.
I still do forgiveness inventories to make sure that I am not energetically holding onto something that can cause disease. Sometimes I have to do them over and over again before I release the hurt. I am most definitely a work in progress but the Universe has an awesome way of letting me know exactly where I need to do the most work.
I have learned that forgiving does not necessarily mean you agree with or approve of a past hurt. You can disagree with someone and still forgive him or her. When you keep an open heart, you leave space for the magic that will come when you stop carrying around past hurts and resentments.
Wouldn't the world be such a kinder place if we could all just take the time to forgive?
You Might Also Like: Finding Myself Through Darkness
Marietta is a healing facilitator who is passionate about helping women heal naturally from the inside out. She is a cancer survivor and self-care advocate who believes that radiant healing occurs when we find the balance between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. She believes that our thoughts create our experiences and our illnesses are a gift here to teach us something powerful. She loves to dance Qoya, practice mindfulness, read, witness the magic of the Universe, and spend time with her family. Through writing, speaking, coaching, and offering retreats she hopes to help women take a deep breath and relax into better health!