Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: Forgiveness isn’t a Decision, It’s a Process of Changed Behavior. (2/1/19)

self-appreciation saturday

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

So, my 2020 is about me making lifestyle changes and learning about forgiveness. I figured, “new decade, new me”, right? So, as a “resolution” for this new year, I’m learning how to forgive myself, my past, and the people involved in it so in honor of that here’s the first SAS of 2020 speaking about a couple of things I’ve learned during this process.

At the very beginning of the year, I went to my weekly therapy session and brought up the want to forgive and truly move on from my past and the past versions of myself. As I said in the post The Year of Forgiveness, I wanted to stop carrying the baggage I seem to never let go and was just tired of allowing it to affect my life to this day. So, with the help of therapy and talking everything out about my past to her, I’m learning just how difficult this goal of mine is going to be to achieve.

The thing is it’s so easy to “forgive and forget.” I honestly don’t know why that saying exists; do you ever find yourself forgiving something and then forgetting about it? I didn’t think so. The thing about forgiving someone, yourself, a situation, whatever; it’s that it takes a lot of pride, ego, acceptance, and moving on to truly forgive. If anything, it’s truly easier said than done; an actual saying that speaks facts! 

A couple of things I had to think about what was I really seeking for; is it strictly closure, is it acceptance of what happened, was it to undo my wrongs and let those in my past back in my life? If it was strictly closure, then I needed to go on this forgiveness journey on my own, allowing myself to accept that those involved are not involved in this process. I had to really think about what closure meant to me in the first place. Something in me thought that closure meant confronting my demons head-on, challenging myself and speaking to the ones I left without warning. After speaking to my therapist and truly understanding what I wanted versus what I needed, I realized that I wanted closure from these events and people, but I didn’t need to bring them back in my life to do it. This was a thing I needed to do on my own, not with the people who may have opinions of their own and feelings of their own. The past is the past, I don’t need their input for my own personal forgiveness and closure, and that’s just that.

So, why am I making this a big deal? Can’t I just say “hey, I forgive myself and I take responsibility for my actions” and call it a day? Sure, but it doesn’t work like that. There’s a lot of work behind truly forgiving yourself and moving forward from it. From witnessing other people and experiencing it on my own, I see that when people say they are over the past and ready to move on and whatever, there is still bitterness, a grudge even, behind that sentence. In other words, we put on this facade that we’re doing good and nothing is holding us back but behind closed doors, we still allow it to affect us. I’m yearning for the type of forgiveness that I honestly move forward from, not allowing it to affect my day-to-day life.

So, forgiveness is truly about changed behavior. How do we remove the grudge and replace it with forgiveness? How do we see ourselves in a more positive light? How do we truly take in what happened in the past and take responsibility for it? Most importantly, how do we honor the people we once were and see our past selves as a necessary step towards growth instead of “a part of our true selves”? That last one is a hard one for me. For me, I’m constantly worried that the person who I was and the decisions and things I made/did are my true colors and that it can come back at any moment. I have this fear that the things I did in the past are just some of my true colors, and I’m just truly this bad person trying to be a good one. This is one of the reasons how I let my past affect my life; I was constantly reminded of the mistakes and the decisions I made back then, and to some extent, I never forgave myself for the things I did. So, the biggest task I have on my hands is how to forgive, accept, even embrace the person I was and separate that from who I am now; I am not teenage Liz anymore and I have grown and learned from experience. Of course, even saying that is easier said than done.

It’s going to take a while to do, but it’s honestly something that everyone should do at one point in their life. Of course, some things and some people are “unforgivable”, but you don’t need to carry it around for your entire life. Let it go and forgive those things for yourself, not anyone else. You deserve a clean slate.

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