The struggle to forgive oneself is common. However, we always have an option in the way we view a mistake we have made- we can go into shame about it or be in the state of guilt.
Feeling badly about something you have done can sometimes be translated into “I am bad”. So you are not only feeling bad but you think you are actually bad because of what you have done. A lot of us think that that is the accurate truth when we hear that statement in our head. If you are not conscious you will agree with this thought and you won’t be able to clean the mistake up because shame will come in and tell you “I am bad, I am unworthy and I am unlovable because of what I have done.” This will block you from being able to feel remorse and contain the right guilt that enables you to truly let go and be forgiven. This also hinders any ability to change – as in a change of heart rather than a change of mind.
What energy is motivating you to change?
Is it shame or is it guilt?
If shame is the motivator you will only go through the verbal emotions of the repentance process and not be able to truly heal. Shame is toxic – and it’s normal to come up; it’s up to whether you are going to consciously turn that into guilt by understanding the actions you have done do not have anything to do with your worth or who you are as a person. Your actions might have been bad however you are absolutely 100% not bad, not even close.
Guilt gives you emotions such as regret and remorse and help you to be able to be accountable for the future by remembering what you have done and the consequences that have followed. Guilt allows you to be able to remain in a state of humility and lets you be open to receive feedback from others. This takes a lot of vulnerability and honesty. Guilt also includes having a willingness to make restitution so you can reconnect to yourself and others.
Be focused on “this is what I did” rather than that means “this is who I am because of it”
If you go into shame you will not be able to change your heart rather you will just use your mind by going through the motions of repentance but not truly repenting because shame is in the way. You will not feel happy, content and peaceful after going through the motions of repentance because your shameful feelings will still be present telling you you are not enough. The goal is to change your heart.
If you are focusing on being responsible for your actions and also knowing that they don’t determine your worth then shame will not be present. The choice of which to enter shame or guilt is only your choice.
Reality is only present when you are conscious of your decisions. When you are in the state of shame you are unable to be conscious because you are feeding lies about yourself that are not real. These lies are not the truth and therefore you’re not living in what is present. You are living in a skewed lens of sight instead.
Change of HEART = GUILT (remorse, regret, repentance, accountability, responsibility)
STEPS TAKEN PLACE:
- Focus on the other person and how you have affected them.
- Understand your emotions as well as anyone who was affected
- Feel empathy for the other person and yourself
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable
- Validate yourself and the other person (this can be really hard if shame keeps coming in, but it’s important and can be done!!)
- Feel humility
- Understand yourself as well as the other person
- Be honest and confess the wrongdoings you have made (without going into shame or thinking “I am bad” because of it!)
- Take full accountability and change anything needed to make amends (say sorry to others & repent)
- Make a personal choice to change your actions going forward (remember this experience as a learning tool to help you in the future – remembering this helps you not make the same mistake over and over again!)
- Choose to have a willingness to surrender and let go and authentically forgive myself and/or others. LET IT GO.
Change of MIND = SHAME (stuck, irresponsible, control, resistant)
STEPS TAKEN PLACE:
- A logical interpretation of the violation – you rationalize and minimize the behaviors to yourself as well as the behaviors of others.
Examples: “ they’re making a big deal out of nothing” or “ that wasn’t my fault”
- Only your mind is involved and not your heart.
- Make excuses
- Unwillingness to have personal responsibility for the choices you’ve made.
- Desire to control the situation and the emotions of yourself and/or the other person.
- Absence of empathy and vulnerability (disconnected)
- Resistant to change
- Unwillingness to surrender (verbalize you’re sorry but don’t really mean it or feel that sorry)
- A change of mind does not change your heart, therefore you will find yourself reverting into the same patterns and behaviors.
Genuine forgiveness is immediate. Forgiveness releases you from the dictating voices of shame that tell you “you can never be forgiven” and “because you did this you are bad and will always be bad.”
Forgiveness motivates you in the direction of hope and excitement for life ahead. It gives you a desire for change and for connection with others. Forgiveness of self is a necessary choice and is often times overlooked because shame tells you that you cannot be released from the pain of your choices.
You don’t need to prove anything in order to repent. All that is needed is to forsake and release going forward with a mindset to not go back to the same behaviors.
Forgiveness of oneself is a deliberate and continuous choice you must make – no one else can do it for you. It is a personal experience between you and God. It is a personal acknowledgement of the wrongdoing, not that you are a wrong person or anything to do with your worth. And then a request to have that weight lifted and be forgiven.
If you are unsure what state you are in, look and see if you are in the attitude of blame. This blame could be towards yourself or towards others. If you are in a state of blame you are feeling shame. If you are in responsibility, you are most likely in guilt.
Are you at rest?
If not what in your life needs to be settled?
Do you need to repent of something or to someone?
Do you need to offer forgiveness that you have been refusing?
Identify what needs to take place. Repent of that and/or forgive and let it go! And remember your actions do not determine who you are. Ever.