A few weeks back I shared the fact that we all have financial bruises, in fact, I shared my biggest financial bruise. When I told the story of my financial bruise, I also shared the lessons that I learned from the painful experience. One lesson seemed to resound more than others with people, and that was the lesson of forgiveness. I think that most of us are better at giving forgiveness to others than giving it to ourselves. Why do you think that’s the case?
My history of not forgiving
I have always had a difficult time forgiving myself, probably because I have been a Type A overachiever since I was in kindergarten. I remember one day in high school when my mom picked me up from school, and I got in the car and cried like a baby. She was shocked and assumed that I was either PMS’ing or experiencing some sort of teen girl drama. When I calmed a little, she asked what was wrong, and through more sobbing (because it was painful to say aloud), I shared that I had gotten a B on a test. And do you want to know my mom’s response? She laughed her ass off.
How could she laugh at me when I was in such pain? The rest of the car ride home, my mom said that I needed to learn to give myself a break, especially because I far exceeded any expectation she could have of me academically. My mom assured me that I was not defined by that grade and I would just make it up on the next exam. I hated that I got a B on that test, but it motivated me to work harder and I ended up with an A on my report card for that class.
My tools for forgiving myself
I am still learning the art of forgiving myself; however, I received a great tool for the task when I graduated from college. As a gift, a friend gave me the book “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” and it was just what I needed to receive at that point in my life. There were many pearls of wisdom in the book; however, two “rules” specifically stood out to me. 1) “There are no mistakes, only lessons” and 2) “A lesson is repeated until learned.” Part of my forgiveness process is thinking about these two rules of life.
Yes, mistakes are awful and some are more painful than others, but if and when we learn from them, they transform from a mistake into a lesson which puts a much more positive spin on it. Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over again, like running up our credit card or not saving enough cash or overspending on groceries, and they remain mistakes until we fix things.
The larger the mistake, though, the more likely we are to learn from it and never repeat it again, so sometimes that large and painful mistake was necessary to teach us an important lesson. Instead of being mad at yourself for doing it, maybe you should thank yourself for providing a learning opportunity.
Why Is forgiveness important?
Without forgiveness, we are stuck in the past, and we keep ourselves from moving forward to something better. I have clients who kick themselves all the time about the debt they have or the lack of savings they have, and the kicking process does nothing but keep them in the past to when they made the mistakes. I need them focused on the future and making a change. The best advice I can give them is to let the past go, but that is easier said than done.
Just like this song says, “We all make mistakes sometime, and we all step across that line. But nothing’s sweeter than the day we find, forgiveness.” If you are feeling down on yourself for a mistake that you have made, forgive yourself. If you don’t plan to make the mistake again, then why should you hold a grudge?
You need to give yourself a break and keep moving forward. Staying angry only keeps you in the past and you need to be focused on the future. There is no financial mistake that can’t be fixed, you just have to stay in a positive mindset so that you can fix it, and forgiving yourself will free up lots of positivity for you to tackle your future goals.
Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net Stuart Miles
Do you have a tough time forgiving yourself? Is there anything that helps you forgive? Why do you think we forgive others easier than forgiving ourselves?