“If only I….”
“I should have….”
“Why didn’t I….”
Of course it does. It seems to be the way we work, wishing we had done things differently.
And then we replay it over and over and over again. Beating ourselves up each and every time.
Why? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is self-forgiveness really so damn hard?
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have extremely high expectations…of others and of myself. Most of the time that’s a good thing.
Until it’s not.
I know in my head that I’m a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a good employee, a good daughter, but why don’t I feel that way?
Expectations. Simply put, I expect so damn much of myself. So, I beat myself up when I don’t meet my expectations, which feels like it’s all the damn time. Forget picture day? Beat myself up. Burn dinner? Beat myself up. Late sending a birthday card? Beat myself up. Miss a workout? Beat myself up. Laundry not folded? Beat myself up. Miss the PTO meeting? Beat myself up. Work project not perfect? Beat myself up.
And on and on and on and on.
I know, in my head, that I need to stop beating myself up – what good does it really do? But yet, I do it anyway. And I know lots of other moms (and dads) who do it too. What is it about beating ourselves up that seems so necessary that we just can’t seem to quit doing it?
For the love of God, I know we’re all smarter than this!
We’ve got to start forgiving ourselves.
In the simplest of terms, the benefits of forgiveness are unbelievable.
- It’s good for your head!
Research across 54 different studies of forgiveness has repeatedly shown that forgiveness can lower mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
- It’s good for your heart!
A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (and subsequent studies) found a correlation between forgiveness and reduced blood pressure, ultimately promoting heart health. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Health found when patients with serious coronary heart disease underwent forgiveness therapy their risk for pain and sudden death decreased significantly.
- You’ll live longer!
According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Behavioral Health – providing forgiveness to someone is correlated with lower mortality. That’s good for you, that’s good for your spouse and for your kids!
If the benefits of forgiving others are so plentiful, it seems obvious forgiving ourselves will follow suit. And better mental health, better heart health and living longer all seem like things we owe to our families, to our kids…to ourselves.
So today, on International Forgiveness Day, let’s agree to work towards forgiveness – not just forgiving others, but perhaps more importantly, forgiving ourselves. After all we’re just doing the best we can…and most times, it’s good enough!