Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Hi Amplifiers! I'm back with the fourth installment of the You Gotta Eat series. While I've cooked up quite a few meals since we last connected, I decided, instead, to share a message that I heard at church recently. It included the You Gotta Eat phrase and an acronym for the word, EAT. I was tickled when I heard the familiar phrase as I took notes during the engaging sermon about forgiveness, specifically, forgiving yourself.
Forgiveness is one of those things that can be hard to give and hard to receive. It is a painful reality that we all have experienced at one point or another. In order to live a life of joy, freedom and even wellness, you have to learn the art of forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is about the hurt, anger and betrayal inflicted upon other people. Other times forgiveness is about a person's self-worth, as in forgiving oneself for something that perhaps they had no control over (i.e., abuse, death of a loved one), or overeating after vowing to lose those extra pounds, missing the mark over and over again and not knowing how to see the good in yourself and so forth.
So what does it mean to forgive anyway? To forgive means to pardon an offense, debt, wrong, etc., or someone. It means stop (or at least decrease) having the feeling of resentment against someone or some situation and moving on, usually having peace about it. It's about extending grace.
Being able to forgive yourself is extremely important because constantly feeling resentful, having low self-esteem and self-worth, is a recipe for depression, pessimism and a lack hope in life. Most of us aspire to live life to the full and that requires understanding the art of forgiving.
The acronym that I mentioned earlier included some great tips on how to forgive yourself. I decided to use a similar notion and come up with my own tips. As a Behavioral Health Professional I have had some experience with individuals who suffered from mental health and substance use issues as a result of not forgiving themselves. Some of these strategies derive from my own training and best practices in the field. As I write, I realize, how fitting it is to be writing this blog post as we come to the end of the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month. I encourage you or someone you know, who may need a pick-me-up, to try these tips.
E - Emotions. Concentrate on your emotions. Accept the feelings that you have regarding the past. It may be guilt, shame, or anger. Studies have shown that your nervous system reacts to these emotions. Trying to forgive yourself without releasing the underlying emotions does not help you to overcome the pain. Release the emotions.
A - Acknowledge the offense or mistake that you made. Remember that mistakes and failures are a part of life. It's what makes us human and helps us to learn and grow.
T - Talk it out. Find someone that you trust and share your concerns, perhaps a family member, friend or a therapist. If you are not yet comfortable with sharing your mistake, try 'taking your own advice'. Think about what you would tell a friend if they were sharing with you and take that same advice.
At the end of the day it is important for you to love and value yourself. Be sure to implement some self-care, that includes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual care into your daily routine. It is natural to replay the mistakes or offense in our minds, and processing what happened is appropriate for a time. However, show yourself some kindness and compassion and be sure to get professional help if you are still struggling to forgive yourself. Remember, You Gotta EAT!