A recent caller to my radio show told me that although she could forgive other people easily, the hardest thing to do was to forgive herself. In thinking about this very common problem, here’s what you have to consider: Everything that you’ve done in your life up until this moment, you had to do. The proof of this is that you did it!
Everything you did is over now. You can’t take any of it back. In The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the poet says, “The Moving Finger writes: and having writ,/ Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit/ Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,/ Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
The fact that we can’t erase the past says something to us. We are called on to forgive ourselves, to honor what is past, to love and respect it. Look back and say, “That’s what I needed to do, that’s the person I needed to be at that time in my life. I did that, and I’ve learned from it. Now I can move on.”
Take the present moments you have now and use them in joy and love—not in anguishing over what you should or shouldn’t have done or how you weren’t good enough. You were the person you were supposed to be then so you could become the person you are now. You needed to do the things you did in order to find out how you didn’t want to be. Rather than cursing the past, bless it and forgive yourself entirely. When you know that all of those experiences were a part of the divine design of your life, you can afford to forgive.
So many things that I did in my life, I look back and think that I would never do those things today. And yet all of my past actions have contributed to helping me be the man I am today. Say to yourself, “I had to be that person and I’ve learned from him (or her).” Forgiving yourself is every bit as important as forgiving other people. You did the best that you could, given the conditions of your life, and you can’t ask any more of yourself or of anyone else. Forgive yourself and welcome love back into your life. When you can do this, a kind of balancing occurs. Rather than atoning for sins with guilt, you are more committed to promoting joy and service. You will begin to do what you originally came here to do.