To grow, you need to be able to forgive yourself.

This topic is for me so essential and has had such a profound influence and impact on myself.
Forgiveness as such is deeply rooted in religions, and many people talk and write about it’s importance. Lately I stumbled into a couple:

Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of: Eat, pray, love) attended a seminar to reflect on the concept and following that shared her observations via her Blog.

Jack Kornfield wrote about this on his blog.

Rod Arters wrote a great blog post about it too.

Without getting too theoretical, then a Google of the word forgiveness gives the following definition (Wikipedia):

“the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”

This way to approach forgiveness contains two parties: A victim and an offender, and the key is, that the victim let go of negative emotions and change feelings towards the offender.

For me, the scoop about this way to view forgiveness is, that it becomes universal, as it can also contain the situation where victim and offender is one and the same, which then becomes: Me.
And this is really where I want to start.

I believe that forgiveness is key to achieving improvements and to grow. Far too often we get disappointed because we don’t reach the targets or the goals we have set. We get disappointed or disillusioned because of that and feel we are not worthy of growing, and then we give up.
When we are young we still believe we can make it to the top, that we can become famous, popular, outstanding in sports, arts or business. But when we try, we sometimes fail. Sooner or later we reach the ceiling or meet our limits. But, when we are young we try again. Maybe we get angry or disappointed, but we try again. But the more times we fail, the more “experienced” we get, we learn about all the things that “cannot be done”, that “I cannot do”, because “I am not good enough”, because “I am not worthy”. Some call this “experience” – “I have tried something and I have experienced that it doesn’t work”, or that “I cannot do it”, so “I better stay away from trying this any more, or trying something that even looks like it”.
I believe, that we need to keep on trying, we need to keep on failing, or we will never get anywhere.
A person who lives according to this credo is the tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka.
Tattooed on Stanislas Wawrinka’s left forearm is a quotation that sums up his philosophy of life. It’s from Samuel Beckett, whose writings dealt with the struggle to find meaning in a bleak, nihilistic universe. Written on his arm in blue script: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” “It’s my vision of my job and my life in general,” Wawrinka said. “In tennis, as you know, if you are not Roger or Rafa and Djokovic or Andy now, you don’t win so many tournaments and you always lose. But you need to take the positive of the loss and you need to go back to work.”

I see this as trying your best, but sometimes failing, however forgiving yourself for not being perfect. If I cannot forgive myself when I fail, then I do not dare take a risk some other day. If I do not dare take a risk, I cannot learn, If I cannot learn, I cannot grow or develop.

To grow and develop is crucial, because everything around me is developing at a fast pace, so if I stand still, everybody else will be moving on.
I think it is so essential to start by forgiving one self first. By getting experience doing so, one can also forgive others for their mistakes or errors, which then opens up for so much more. By being able to forgive others we can build trust.
I also see a clear connection between forgiving and practising meditation. To practise meditation you need to be able to forgive yourself, because your mind will wander so many times and you will have to look at the thoughts that came up and call your mind back to the meditation again and again.

For me personally to discover this was a big moment. To discover that the meditation practice was actually strengthening my ability to forgive myself and thereby helping me in moving on. To accept myself that way has had a profound impact on my life.
Think about this next time you get disappointed about yourself. Remember to forgive yourself, get the learning and move on. The more you practise the better you get.

To grow, you need to be able to forgive yourself.