Thomas3.20.2010

Forgiving Myself (Again!)

Blog Post created by Thomas3.20.2010 on Oct 19, 2014

1. I am learning to understand the importance of forgiving myself for smoking.

Living in a state of being unable to forgive myself requires a lot of energy. I was constantly chewed up by fear of my vulnerability, burning with anger at myself and  with  guilt, and living with the constancy of sadness, hurt, and self-blame. Vulnerabilty terrifies me! But this energy deserves to be put to better use, so that my creativity and abilities are fed, not my negativity. Forgiveness also allows me to live in the present instead of the past, which means that I can move into the future with a renewed sense of purpose focused on change, improvement, and building on experience rather than being held back by past hurts and damage that cannot be healed.

I was afraid to forgive myself because I feared losing my sense of self that has been built on the back of self-anger, resentment, and vulnerability. But I asked  myself if that  angry, easily hurt and reactive person is the identity I choose to show the world and live with. Is the security of this mode of thinking worth the effort and harm it is causing me? I know that it is better to have a small time of insecurity as I find my way again than to continue a lifetime bogged down in self-loathing.

Now I see forgiveness in a positive light. I allow myself to experience strong feelings such as resentment and anger, but I view it as the chance to feel strong positive feelings, such as joy, generosity, and faith in my true self. Switching it to thinking about what I have  gained rather than what I have lost has the benefit of keeping me positive while minimizing the negative emotions.

2. I take into account the challenges raised by not forgiving myself. 

Not only do I allow myself to remain stuck in the past, but not forgiving myself takes a huge toll on my emotional and physical health. Inability to forgive is sourced from anger and resentment, two emotions that can wreak havoc with my health. Isn't that just another way to create more damage with my own behavior and attitudes?

I know that forgiving doesn't equate with forgetting [Thank You, Dash, for coining the phrase Never Ever Forget N.E.F.!] I am  learning by experience and  guided by that experience in all aspects of my life. It's about leaving aside the resentment and self-inflicted berating that comes with remembering - taking away the sting!

3.Accepting  my emotions. 

Part of the struggle is often being unable to accept that I am experiencing such emotions as anger, fear, resentment, and vulnerability. Instead of trying to avoid facing these negative emotions, I accept them as part of what is fueling my lack of self-forgiveness and self-respect. A problem named is a problem ready to be tackled. This is particularly a huge challenge for men in our society. 

4.I reflect on why I'm  trying to hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else around me.

 Perfectionism  causes me to hold too high a standard for my own behavior, a standard that I wouldn't hold anyone else to. And if my perfectionism causes me to be too hard on myself, I am caught in a situation where self-forgiveness is very hard to do because it seems like acceptance of a sub-standard Thomas. But  I can remove myself from this vicious cycle of thinking by  "welcoming imperfection". Welcoming imperfection is the way to accomplish what perfectionism promises but never delivers. It allows me to accept that all human beings are imperfect, and I am human, and imperfect too, and My Creator LOVES me just as I am!

5.I let go of other people's expectations for me. When I get stuck in a spiral of self-hate and never feeling good enough because of things that were once said to me, self-forgiveness is essential. I have no control over what other people do and say, and many things are said and done unconsciously, often motivated by the other person's own shortcomings. But living my life in self-loathing because I don't feel I live up to someone else's expectations is based on making too much of another person's mixed-up feelings. I forgive myself for trying to live a life according to other's expectations and am making the changes needed to follow my own purpose instead.

For every person who has been hard on me,I must remember that someone was hard on them. I am breaking the chain of harshness by being kind to myself, not trying to live up to someone else's expectations for me.

Whenever someone criticizes me unfairly, I realize that they have just made it that much harder for themselves if they make a mistake or fail to fulfill their own perfectionist ideas. I occasionally reflect where I've come from and why I no longer want to live that way.

6.I have  stopped punishing myself.

 I have frequently misunderstood that forgiveness equates with forgetting or condoning. This misunderstanding has at times led me to feel that it is not right to forgive myself because in the process of doing so, it's akin to an act of forgetting or condoning the past wrong. But forgiveness is a process of mindfulness in which I continue to remember what happened and don't condone something that was "wrong" as suddenly "right". It's a process of letting go of the damage that's still being done by holding on to the emotions surrounding the poor choice that was made.

It's perfectly fine to say: "I am not proud of what I've done (or how I've devalued myself) but I'm moving on for the sake of my health, my well-being, and those around me." Affirming this is healthy and allows me to break the cycle of self-harm I've fallen into because I openly acknowledge what was wrong and the intention to set it right from now on.

7. I practice self-acceptance.

 I don't need forgiveness for being me. Forgiving myself is about targeting the specific things that I feel bad about, not about the person that I AM. As a forgiveness technique, self-acceptance allows me to acknowledge that I'm a good person, faults and all. It doesn't mean that I ignore the faults or stop trying to improve myself but it does mean that I value myself above those elements and cease to allow my faults to halt my progression in life.

8. I think about and plan what will improve in my life if I can release myself.

Then I bring my plan into fruition. As part of forgiving myself, it's  not enough to simply resolve to forgive myself. Doing things to confirm the forgiveness process will help me to realize my self-forgiveness and to give me a new sense of purpose. Some of the things I have done include:

Taking up meditation.

 Meditation is an ideal way to find inner quiet, spiritual, self-realization, and physical relaxation. It  allows me to take time out, to tune into and appreciate the moment, and to get in touch with my inner self. Done regularly, meditation  improves my well-being and sense of self.

Affirm my self-worth.

Whenever the negative thoughts reappear, I make the time out signal with my hands and then I remind myself regularly that I am a valued and beautiful person and say simply: "I forgive myself" or "I will no longer let anger eat away at me", 

Keep a journal.

 I write down my journey to forgiveness. Having the writing space to share my thoughts and feelings with, one that nobody else will ever read, is a liberating and self-enlightening way to breaking through negative approaches to my life.

 

 Draw strength from the  teachings of the Holy Scriptures to support me.

 The Scriptures are full of imperfect people who were close to their Creator - not because of perfection - because of LOVE and Forgiveness. In fact, the only perfect person in the Scriptures is My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

9. I see forgiveness as a journey, not a destination.

Forgiveness is an ongoing process and I recognize  that I'll have my up days and my down days, as with most feelings and experiences in life. I sometimes have felt that I've reached a point of forgiveness, only to have something  - a bad breathing day or a COPD exacerbation -  that causes me to feel it was all a wasted effort and that I'm back to square one, angry and annoyed with myself. So I let the back sliding  happen and see it as a minor setback in an otherwise more forgiving self. In addition, I realize that forgiveness has no timetable; instead, I  do my best to prepare myself for the process once more, drawing on my experience of healing, knowing that by entering the process I will  this time as well,  no matter how big it seems at this moment,  repair and heal  and  begin again.

My name is Thomas and, after being an off and on closet smoker for 20 years, I was diagnosed with COPD and quit 6 days later. I have been happily free for 4 Years, 6 Months, 4 Weeks, 18 hours, 45 minutes and 51 seconds (1,674 days). I have saved $2510.67 by not smoking 16,737 cigarettes. I have saved countless days of my life and unknown suffering. My Quit Date: 3/20/10 and I have promised myself to forgive myself for the damage I have caused me. my family, my friends, my life and to never smoke again no matter what! N.O.P.E.!

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