Updated: May 12
"How do I forgive myself?" A friend recently asked me this question. During my experience as a minister, I've discovered many people ask themselves this question. He was beating himself up and feeling guilty for what he thought were terrible things he did to himself and others. I can relate. At one point in my life, because of substance abuse and addiction, I went through a "dark night of the soul," and my life was stuck. Guilt burdened me. I lost many of the things I thought were important in my life. Consequently, I too was plagued by the same question my friend recently posed.
I shared my situation with a spiritual teacher back then and his response was, "God believes in you, and you will block the good the Universe has in store for you if you are unforgiving towards yourself and others.” With that teacher’s guidance along with classes, workshops, therapy, and self-inquiry meditations, I learned how to forgive myself and how to forgive others. My world opened up, and I saw possibilities in my life that I previously did not recognize.
The Universe wants to liberate our Spirit so we can express more and more of the essence of God in and as our life. For that to happen, we must be able to see the dreams and divine ideas that God has for our life, and then allow those dreams and visions to carry us away. If we harbor any sense of resentment or lack of forgiveness toward ourselves, another person, a situation, or even an institution, we choke the dream Spirit has for us.
A statement in Buddhism says, "Desire affects perception." This statement means the energy we hold affects what we see. When we do not forgive, we cannot see the blessings right before us. When we have a resentful mind, we miss the divine ideas knocking on the door of our consciousness, because the negative energy blinds us from seeing clearly.
Life often teaches us we ought to forgive to please some deity outside of ourselves or because it is moral. However, forgiveness is not a moral issue; it is an energy dynamic that relieves the forgiver of the baggage of a previous experience, and empowers the one who forgives. If you need to forgive someone, something, or even yourself, here are steps you can follow:
Be aware of your need to forgive
Be willing to forgive
Ask Spirit for help and guidance
Be ready to face and feel your feelings
Own your feelings without blaming or judging anyone else
Surrender the results to Spirit
Repeat steps 2-6 as often as necessary
Be patient with yourself
Like every spiritual tool, practice is the key. Regardless of our philosophical theology, our authentic theology is what we do. Forgiveness is not always easy, but when we genuinely forgive, we experience genuine freedom. When we are free in the Spirit, we can unconditionally accept the truth that God never stops believing in us regardless of what others have done to us, or what we have done to ourselves.
Peace and Blessings,