Do you forgive yourself?

For many of us, all ‘forgiveness’ implies is forgiving others for the hurt and harm they have inflicted on us. It rarely stands for forgiving oneself.

This so for two reasons. The first is that not many of us see or admit that we have hurt others. Secondly, we think that forgiving oneself is merely another way of justifying the act. Deeper thinking, however, will reveal that forgiving oneself has greater meaning and merit and that it is efficacious in improving oneself and restoring harmony.

To err, it is said, is human. No one succeeds in leading a blameless, perfect life. All of us, at some time or the other, hurt others through our deeds, words and even thoughts. Yet, deep within each of us, resides the need to live in harmony with others. We want to be accepted and appreciated. We also know that it is only by extending love can we receive love.

We are also aware that hurt and rudeness are almost invariably returned, making both parties miserable and angry. It is a vicious circle that seems to have no end. This is where forgiveness of oneself comes in.

The healing process begins by accepting ones mistakes, feeling remorse and making amends. It is not an easy task, made difficult by one’s pride, lack of reflection and deep-seated anger. No matter what it is, a sincere ‘sorry’ is what is required to mend matters.

It is welcomed and the healing process soon gets underway. Hardly ever is it interpreted as weakness. On the other hand, it stands out as a sign of strength and of fair-mindedness. It opens the door to understanding and to a fresh new start.

What is more, it brings trust and humility in the relationship. Hurt, whether lodged in the victim or the perpetrator, is corrosive. It causes stress and mistrust and can even result in illnesses.

That self-forgiveness has immense power is well illustrated in this true story. In a village, lived two brothers who were likeable but indisciplined Eventually they turned into thieves. They began stealing sheep, a serious crime in a pastoral place.

In the course of time, they were caught. As a punishment, the letters S T – for ‘Sheep Thief’ – were branded on their foreheads and they were let off. One brother was so ashamed that he ran off and was never heard of again.

The other was filled with remorse. He chose to stay and make amends. At first, the villagers were sceptical, but so useful did he make himself that he won their trust and respect. If a sheep needed tending, he was there. All odd jobs were done by him.

He was always ready to lend a helping hand. It made no difference if the person was rich or poor.

Many years later, a traveller came to the village. Sitting in a cafe, he noticed a kindly, old man with the strange letters on his forehead. Most of those who passed him greeted him with affection.

Curious, the stranger asked the cafe owner what the letters stood for, After a minute’s thought, the owner said, ‘It happened a long time ago. I think it stands for ‘saint’.

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