The ability to forgive oneself for mistakes, large and small, is critical to psychological well-being. Difficulties with self-forgiveness are linked with suicide attempts, eating disorders, and alcohol abuse, among other problems. But self-forgiveness has a dark side. Research suggests that while it can relieve unpleasant feelings like guilt and shame, it can also reduce empathy for others and motivation to make amends. In other words, self-forgiveness may at times serve as a crutch, producing a comforting sense of moral righteousness rather than a motivating sense of moral responsibility. Just as you probably wouldn’t forgive someone else until they make it up to you in some way, forgiving yourself may be most beneficial when you feel like you’ve actually earned it. So how do you know when you’ve adequately paid your dues? In some cases, it’s obvious what needs to be done (e.g., if you borrow your friend’s favorite sweater and lose it, you would probably want to find a way to replace it, at minimum), but in other cases the criteria for making amends may be less clear. Receiving forgiveness from others can help facilitate self-forgiveness, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide when you’ve done enough to right a wrong. Rather than simply going through the motions of atonement, it may be useful to consider what kinds of reparative behaviors will actually make a difference for others, or for your own personal growth. Even certain forms of self-punishment may be useful when motivated by a desire for self-improvement rather than anger at the self, though researchers recommend that such punishment be mild and time-limited, and never physically or psychologically harmful. For example, a teenager who engages in shoplifting and feels remorse might decide to refrain from shopping for three months and instead focus on her schoolwork. Problematically, research has found that self-forgiveness is negatively associated with empathy for victims. As self-forgiveness increases, empathy decreases. This disconnect is understandable: when you’re feeling compassion for the suffering of those you’ve hurt, it’s difficult to also have compassion for the person who caused that suffering. But self-forgiveness is not supposed to be easy, and without incorporating empathy it seems more like a form of avoidance. Importantly, self-forgiveness need not be all-or-nothing. It’s a slow process that may never (and some may argue should never) result in a full release of negative feelings or an exclusively rosy view of oneself. Rather than being a form of self-indulgence, healthy self-forgiveness might be better seen as an act of humility, an honest acknowledgment of our capacity for causing harm as well as our potential for doing good. From an article by Juliana Breines, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201207/the-dangers-self-forgiveness-and-how-avoid-them
To forgive is to set
a prisoner free
that the prisoner
Louis B. Smedes
You can extend forgiveness to those who are no longer living – but you cannot reconcile with them. You can extend forgiveness to someone who is no longer in your life and never will be again, but you cannot reconcile with them. You can extend forgiveness to someone who hurt you or abused you – but you do not have to allow that person in your life again to hurt or abuse you more. Forgiveness sets you free. Forgiveness lets you remove the pain you carry inside of you that you feel was done by another’s wrongdoing. The other person need not admit the wrongdoing. The other person need not make amends. The other person need not do anything. Forgiveness is something done inside of yourself, to release you from the pain of the wrongdoing. Forgiveness releases your need for revenge. Vengeance is counterproductive to healing. Revenge is never as sweet as we believe it will be, and vengeance serves no purpose. When anger subsides, the need for vengeance fades, and any action taken in the name of revenge is action you will probably find you need to forgive yourself for – or will have to ask for forgiveness for, at some point. It is important, however, to understand the difference between justice and vengeance. To forgive, you must let go of your desire for vengeance. However, forgiveness does not mean letting go of your right for justice. From “Forgiveness – the Gift You Give Yourself” http://voices.yahoo.com/forgiveness-gift-give-yourself-84466.html?cat=5
To forgive is to set a prisoner free
and discover that the prisoner was you.
Lewis B. Smedes
People want control. We’re all desperate for it. What we wouldn’t give to have more of it in our relationships, work, and lives. Not that we come right out and say so. Instead, we hedge a bit, asking coaches, therapists, and friends how to better manage our careers and other people. How we can change this or that aspect of ourselves or our circumstances — how we might better deal with specific situations and relationships. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting growth and development. Yet that’s not what most of us are really after. Subtle as we try to be, the proof is in the pudding of our thoughts, feelings, and actions; in spite of all our questioning and questing, many of us feel pretty stuck. No matter the energy we exert, we remain in a standstill. Why is this? Why do we as a culture persist in attempting to control our way to personal, creative, and professional freedom? The answer, I’ve found, is pretty interesting. And that is that most of us don’t actually want freedom. Before you disagree, take a look at your own life. Look at the areas in which you wish you had a greater level of freedom, peace, and aliveness. If you’ve yet to achieve these things, I’d gamble that what you’re really after is control. Or said another way, freedom your way. Taken from “Giving Up Control” by Jennifer Hamady (Huffington Post) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-hamady/acceptance_b_2432159.html
Everyone must choose one of two pains:
The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.