It is not easy to forgive others for things said or done to us, and it can be even harder to forgive ourselves. Yet I believe we should start with working on self-forgiveness before trying to forgive others.
Begin by Reflecting
The act of forgiveness is best considered in a quiet contemplative atmosphere, so begin by reflecting on the situation. However justified our self-criticism may seem, and how persistent feelings of resentment, guilt and shame are, there comes a point where such thoughts and feelings no longer serve us any purpose and they need to be released.
Forgiveness is an Act of Self-Compassion
It is an act of self-compassion to forgive ourselves. This means a shift from a judgemental view of our self, to being easier and more tolerant towards ourselves, developing an attitude towards our self, as we would towards a child or good friend.
Also, we have to have a sincere intention that we really want to forgive ourselves. It is helpful to practice saying to ourselves, ‘I am truly sorry for what I have said or done.’
A Forgiveness Visualisation Meditation
Using a visualisation meditation is a way of accessing that deeper aspect of ourselves.
Choose a time when you think you are ready. Think about a situation that comes to mind where you feel you would like forgiveness and remind yourself of the feelings you still have. Start by adopting a familiar meditation routine. Visualise the scenario and picture the person from whom you would like forgiveness, saying to them directly in your imagination, while making eye contact, that you are truly sorry and now wish to move on. Take your time to feel the exchange.
It is something you may wish to repeat or do with other situations. When I have done this meditation I feel a shift and lightening in myself over the following days and weeks. When it comes to forgiving others for any hurt they have caused me, I do find it easier having practised forgiving myself.
Dr Craig Brown