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“Self-Forgiveness” – a Key to Recovery

Written by on August 28, 2009 in Blog - 11 Comments

By Ken Weatherbee, Candeo Student

The people closest to us are often the ones that hurt us the most, yet because of our affinity toward them we forgive. They didn’t necessarily mean to hurt us, nonetheless, we were hurt. It makes sense–if we didn’t have a fondness for them we wouldn’t care as much. The hurt is proportionally related to the depth of our relationship. The deeper our feelings for the person, the more experiences we have shared, the more intimate the relationship, the deeper the pain incurred from the offense. Still, we often forgive them. The closest relationship I have is with my wife of 18 years. We have shared the most intimate of times emotionally, spiritually and physically as we have strived toward complete oneness. However, I never hurt more than when my wife offends me. I take it more personally since, according to my inner reasoning, she should have known better. Usually, my hurt is dealt with as we discuss the offense and my possible misinterpretations, and forgiveness is granted.

There are many examples of offense and forgiveness with siblings, parents, close friendships, etc. Yet, there is still one relationship that runs deeper than any of the aforementioned–the relationship you have with yourself. No one knows you more truly than yourself. The most intimate details of your life, including your thoughts, motives, and emotions are constantly being communicated to your inner life. Personally, no one knows every detail of your life, except you. Internally, we have a created desire toward self-preservation, an innate desire to not only survive, but to enhance our lives. Individually we strive toward taking care of ourselves and invest a lifetime of energy and resources into improving our lives. We invest time into personal hygiene and nourish ourselves. In many areas of our lives, we make positive efforts toward taking care of ourselves.

Therefore, it stands to reason with such an intimate relationship with ourselves, when disappointment arrives we feel the pain deeply, more deeply than with any other relationship. Personally, no one has ever come close to causing me the depth of pain that I have caused myself. I often reason within myself and wonder, “I know myself better than anyone else so why would I disappoint myself, especially to the degree of causing deep wounds? Further, I know my dreams and desires so shouldn’t my actions align themselves to fulfill my inner longings?” Yet, for various reasons, I disappoint myself and engage in actions that are not only detrimental to my plans, but may even prevent my dreams from coming to pass.

Still, like my closest relationships, with such an investment of intimacy into me, and a love for me, it would reason that I would forgive my transgressions and move on. Yet, many times I have mentally tortured and brutalized my inner-self due to a transgression. Plus, these are not perceived transgressions as in the times I am offended by my spouse; rather, they are real and deeply wound my soul. Forgiving self can be one of the hardest in all the relationship circles we encounter. Meanwhile, others that we may have hurt have forgiven us, but we often continue holding a grudge and maintaining a safe distance from the transgressor–ourselves!

Although we are theoretically forced to be in a relationship with ourselves, the practice of non-forgiveness causes us to separate our visible-self from our inner-self. When we deny ourselves the much needed forgiveness, there is this “external man” that begins to disconnect from our internal, emotional man. Our reasoning, however subconscious, tells us that this inner man, the emotional man, has once again thwarted our plans, destroyed our dreams, and thus cannot be trusted. The longer and more frequently we engage in the practice of not forgiving ourselves, the deeper the chasm grows between our outer man and our inner man.

Yes, we are one and the same, but we lose an awareness of our feelings and emotional ties to our actions–we become numb and hardened against ourselves. Part of the addict’s recovery requires a growth of self-awareness. I believe in order to achieve a fuller awareness of self one must begin to grant forgiveness. Forgiveness of self is essential to remaining fully aware of your emotional status and actually being able to trust your feelings again–to trust yourself again. The brain is a powerful machine, yet it can often be deceived to such an extreme that it leads us astray. As we separate ourselves into two entities–the outward and inward man–we are enabling the brain to function as if we are two people. The better we become at forgiving ourselves and allowing our brain to know we are a team working together, the greater awareness we will gain in our journey to freedom. And as we show ourselves kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness, we find that our recovery progress is greatly accelerated. Being unified and at harmony within ourselves unleashes great power!

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