A lot is said about how important it is to forgive another but, in comparison, very little is said about how important it is to forgive oneself. It could be said that one reason for this is that if someone blames another, it will be easy to spot; whereas if they blame themselves, this won’t be the case.
When it comes to the former, someone can be full of anger and rage and spend a lot of time talking about what has happened to them and how hurt they are. Yet, when it comes to the latter, they can simply keep everything to themselves and suffer in silence.
If someone is in a position where they are blaming themselves for something, it could show that they haven’t treated another person very well. Perhaps they were in a relationship and did things that they now deeply regret.
However, although they will be blaming themselves for what took place and suffering as a result, it doesn’t mean that they will be fully aware of this. In this case, they will feel bad about what happened but they might not have taken a step back and been able to see how destructive their behaviour is.
So, they can often feel guilty and ashamed, finding it hard to feel good and they can punish themselves in a variety of different ways. This can mean that they will often feel low and depressed and even suicidal.
As for how they will punish themselves, there can be how they talk to themselves and they can deprive themselves of what they need and wants at times. Quite simply, this will be a way for them to try to make up for what they have done.
Therefore, laying into themselves and living a miserable existence will allow them to pay off what they owe. But, while this is what part of them will believe, what they may see, if they were to step back, is that this approach is not working.
They may have been punishing themselves for a number of months or even years and this need might not have subsided; in fact, it might have gotten stronger as time has passed. It might then occur to a part of them that they could punish themselves for eternity and it wouldn’t change anything.
What they will need to think about at this point is that they can’t change what has taken place; if they had a time machine it would be different but they don’t. Along with this, what they can also keep in mind is that there is a strong chance that they did the best that they could with what they knew at the time.
This is not to say that how they behaved was acceptable or right; it means that if they had known better, they would have done better. Or to be more precise, they did the best that they could at an emotional level, as most likely, what was going on for them at this level was what defined how they behaved, not what they knew at an intellectual level.
The Power of Hindsight
Without this understanding in place, it is to be expected that they would punish themselves for what has taken place. This will show that they have a conscience and can see when they have made a mistake.
But, through having this understanding in place, they will be able to see that as they are on the other side, so to speak, they have access to information that they didn’t have at the time. In other words, if they knew then what they know now, at both an intellectual and emotional level, they probably wouldn’t have behaved how they behaved.
What they could also find is that before they did something that they now deeply regret, they already had the tendency to feel guilty and ashamed and to punish themselves. If so, this can show that they unconsciously co-created what happened.
What took place will then have been their focus, but this will have been another way for them to punish themselves. This experience will be seen by their mind as more evidence that they are bad and deserve to suffer.
This can show that they are emotionally attached to feeling guilty and ashamed, and it will then be normal for them unconsciously create situations that are in alignment with this and to engage in self-sabotage. They can find that they are emotionally attached to feeling bad and worthless too.
When it comes to why they would be this way, it can be due to what took place during their formative years. This may have been a time when they were abused and/or neglected and, as they were egocentric, they would have personalised what took place.
It was then not that one or both of their parents was deeply wounded and harmed them as a result; no, it was that there was something inherently wrong with them. This would have caused them to believe that they were bad, worthless and unlovable and deserved to be punished.
This would have been a time when they became emotionally attached to feeling guilty and ashamed and formed a disempowering self-image. They may have also come to believe that they were unworthy of life and didn’t deserve to exist.
With this in mind, what has happened to them as an adult could be seen as destined to happen. They have recycled the past and, until they question what they believe about themselves and face and work through their emotional wounds, they are likely to continue to have experiences where they feel guilty and ashamed and have the need to punish themselves.
The time has come for them to be kind and compassionate to themselves, as they have suffered for long enough. To move forward, they may need to reach out for external support.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.