Why is it so hard for men to forgive themselves or to accept forgiveness? Why are guilt feelings so difficult to shake off despite our best efforts ?
Sometime back, I was called into a situation concerning a Pastor friend who did a wrong thing. He had confessed his sins but the problem was he refused forgive himself and would not accept that God had forgiven him. His Senior Pastor invited me to talk to him to forgive himself/accept forgiveness. After over an hour of discussions (so to say), we both didn’t succeed that day in convincing him. He flatly refused to see reasons with us. I had to leave when I saw that we weren’t getting through to him at that time. Seeing him years later made it evident to me that he had finally moved on with his life concerning the incident.
I have equally experienced it too in my life where I had done something foolish and for days on end, just couldn’t shake off the thoughts of my foolish activity’s. Those events played over and over again in my mind like a stuck record. I just couldn’t forgive myself. I did the “blame game”, “bitter self criticism game” etc. I said things like, “why did I wait too long and allowed this to happen to me”? At other times, sitting alone, I would say things like “… why didn’t I do something sooner? “Why did I not speak up sooner “? “Why did I do the same foolish thing again when I already knew it won’t work”?
One of my beloved ones said this to me during a friendly chat – “..…as a young man, I always accused my father (in my his own reasoning way back then), concerning why he didn’t achieve certain successes in life at a particular age”. He then concluded , “here I am now, at that same age and I haven’t even achieved half of what he had done.”. Regrets and more regrets, guilt and accusations everywhere.
In my interactions with various categories of men, I have noticed that a lot of people have many “should have”, “would have”, “could have” events in their lives yet nothing can bring back the lost times and opportunities. You just have to forgive yourself.
Many have sunk into depression or developed high blood pressure or some psychosomatic diseases all because they wouldn’t let the past go or forgive themselves.
Constant regret is the doorway that leads to heart failure. Why go about with such a huge burden on your soul? Why should you bottle up inside you what will not help you? Why do you want to live miserable and die miserable and be buried in a lonely miserable grave just because you don’t want to let go the regret or error of the past. How can a man improve in life when he is driving forward but his eyes are focused on the rear view mirror. Dragging the unpalatable past into your present will hinder your progress and ultimately cripple your coming future.
So how can I forgive myself?
Stop the continuous self criticism.
Stop the regurgitation of what you did wrong. Stop digging it up. You have to admit to yourself you did wrong and forgive yourself. Let’s assume you refuse to forgive yourself. What good does it do to you.? What good does it do to those you hurt? Your not forgiving yourself will not undo their hurt. Even if you hurt yourself because of your past errors, that won’t still erase the fact that you did wrong to those people. So let it go and stop bringing it up inside you.
Every successful man you see today is a man who got past his past. You have to let the past go. I once had a problem that was plaguing my mind a lot. One day I got tired of being tired of that nagging problem so I went to the front of my house and dug a little hole in the ground with a stick. I then took all the painful thoughts on my mind that day and buried it. I then said “here lies all the bad thoughts I have been having concerning the XYX matter “. (Okay, I didn’t really use that phrase), but I sure buried those thoughts in the sand that day and never to be troubled again by them again.
I wrote a wonderful poem titled Autopsies I hate. Read it and it will help you understand how bad it is to be regurgitating past thoughts. Follow this link https://ovyay.com/autopsies-i-hate
If that doesn’t work for you, maybe you should try standing before a mirror and talk to yourself loudly saying stuff like “this matter is in my past and I forgive myself”. I have done that too when I was dealing with some troublesome issues of life.
Read my post on how I learnt to love myself for more details by following this link
No one is perfect
Everyone has failed before. Everybody has done some dumb things in the past . Who has not made mistakes before? A lot of successful entrepreneurs have lost money before. Look there will be times in life when what you thought was the right step ends up being the worst possible step. Such is life. No man is an expert of life. Many times you don’t just know what the consequences will be till stuff begins to happen. What do you do then? You dust yourself up, forgive yourself and move on. No one gets it right all the time.
Move away from the environment of pressure for a while. This will help ease tension. Go for walks outdoors. I mean parks, the woods etc. If possible travel to an exotic place if you can afford it. This will help you think clearly or even divert you from the pressure you are experiencing.
You may need to drop some of your friends especially the ones reinforcing your guilt. Or maybe those who do nothing but make you sad or remind you of your errors. Misery loves company so drop the wailers and moaners and find some fresh friends that can light up your life.
Flush bad/guilt thoughts immediately they start bombarding your mind before they take root in your soul. Immediately the bad thoughts show up, reject them and replace them with good thoughts concerning the future.
Also, if you have done a wrong thing, apologising or smoothening things with the other party is always best way forward. Going about with a burden of guilt or knowledge of wrongdoing is a recipe for dying slowly. Truth is a healer. Thinking time will convert a lie to become the truth is an illusion. Your conscience knows you are lying even if you exhibit boldness as a cover up. You know in your heart of hearts that you you are wrong. Admit your wrong doing and settle issues with the affected party.
Speaking the truth is the best in a situation when a man knows he is wrong. Seeing people or knowing they are somewhere suffering because of your actions is a burden too hard to continue to carry. Many have gone to their graves being stubborn over the wrong thing when saying the truth no matter the consequences would have put them on the pathway of healing. Bottom line is if you are wrong you know it. Go and talk to the wronged person and let them know that you really feel bad about what happened. When some of them see you are also hurting and realise you are sincere in your apology, may tell you it’s okay and that releases you. Some may not because they are still hurting themselves or angry because you let them down or made them lose money or feel you betrayed their trust etc. You just have to move on knowing that you have done what is just and right with them.
A good thing can come out of a bad thing. Take that guilt event as a learning school. Okay maybe you didn’t do what you ought to do or maybe you didn’t speak when you ought to speak up and things went really bad and even may have in a worst scenario cost someone’s life or money. Resolve this by using that experience not to let such ever happen again.
I have had some bad experiences that completely changed my behaviour and from there, I went on to become a better person. That is, means if the harsh reality of the past error didn’t hit me hard, maybe I wouldn’t have become the “better person” I am now. So you can harness good things out of a bad thing and ensure such mistakes never happen again .
Finally, appeal to the Divine.
I am a Christian and when I err, my first port of call is to go to God in repentance. I don’t know what works for you, but repenting before God sure helps me every time.
Thanks for your time.
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