We are often told the key to happiness is forgiveness. We forgive others, not for their benefit, but for our own. I’ve spent a lifetime forgiving people. I’ve never been a grudge-holder, so forgiveness has (for the most part) come fairly easily for me. Or so I’d thought.
Yesterday, I had an afternoon visit with a new friend. We chatted about the importance of defining our needs. What do we need to make us happy? Most of this discussion was in the context of writing. What do I need to do to get back to working on my novels?
I admitted that much of what was holding me back was a feeling that I needed to complete my works-in-progress before I moved on to something new. This is no major revelation. I’ve long known this was a problem for me, that my belief that I had to finish what I started was holding me back from moving forward. I knew guilt over these incomplete projects was hampering my writing. Guilt about disappointing my few (very few) fans by failing to complete my Spellbringers series as promised. Guilt about not following through on my commitments. Guilt about not writing at all.
I began to examine other areas of my life where guilt had taken over. And that’s when I had a major, life-changing revelation. Guilt has impacted every area of my life. I’ve carried guilt for every single thing I’ve ever done and I’ve made decisions accordingly. I’m so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, I never say no. I never speak up for myself. I never voice my own needs. I’d rather inconvenience or harm myself than say no to someone else.
There are people in my life who know this about me. They have used this against me and manipulated my feelings to get what they want. These are people who have harmed me in the past, and I’ve forgiven them. Some, I’ve allowed to harm me again.
Today, I decided to forgive myself. It’s great that I’ve forgiven others, but now it’s time to be compassionate and kind to myself. I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made in the past. All of them. I forgive myself for the times I’ve been unkind to others. I’ve made reparations. It’s over.
I forgive myself because I’m worth it. I forgive myself because I’m human and we all make mistakes. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to have a good life full of creativity, friendship, and love. I don’t need to apologize to anyone for my decision to live life for me.
For those of you who are struggling with guilt, let it go. I know that’s easier than it sounds. I’ve reminded myself a hundred times today that I forgive myself. I’ve whispered it in my mind. I’ve said it out loud. And now I’m saying it to all of you.
I forgive myself. I hope those of you who are carrying the burden of guilt can do the same. Forgive yourself. You are worth it. You are important. You deserve happiness.