Refusing to forgive yourself is a refusal to take responsibility. Just as punishing a child without a clear understanding of responsibility, the lesson and moving forward is ineffective and cruel, so is deliberately, whether you admit it or not, choosing to make you as miserable as possible.
No, you can’t fix the past. You can learn from it though.
The aim of the past and the mistakes, disappointments and losses you may have experienced en route to the present is to help you grow. You get to figure out who you are as you process the emotional baggage of old pain, fear and guilt. Refusing to let go is a block to that. You could be enjoying a better present and building your future. Instead, by avoiding self-compassion and self-forgiveness, you give yourself a cast-iron alibi for not having to bother again.
A huge motivator for refusing to forgive yourself is often not wanting to admit that you were wrong about something or someone. You may have built your whole identity on these beliefs, and they let you feel special, albeit in a negative way. It can even feel like a security blanket that offers a twisted closeness to someone significant in your life.
One way of understanding your lack of self-forgiveness and self-compassion is to acknowledge what ‘role’ it allows you to keep fulfilling.
Where did you learn to play that role, or who else benefits from you continuing with it? For instance, do you get to be The Black Sheep to the parent from whom you’ve always craved validation? Do you get to tick the box of being less successful than someone else? Does your unforgiving role punish someone else or call attention to a need? If you stop playing this role, what do you end up being ‘wrong’ about?
It’s OK to be ‘wrong’. Your present troubles invite you to see what you couldn’t before. And this also give you the opportunity to set yourself free.
Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to “please” or protect yourself from others? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.