General Question

nebule's avatar

How do I forgive and love myself?

Asked by nebule (16446points) March 15th, 2009

…when I’ve never really known how to and can’t remember ever doing so…

well that’s not true…there was probably a couple of times (of a period of about two months…)

but how do you stop being angry with yourself for the stupid things you’ve done and said and felt and acted…

and just connect with the love…?

I don’t know…any ideas, practical suggestions, books, mental advice all welcome x

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18 Answers

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I’m not sure if “God” is the answer you want to hear.. but He’s what worked for me.

1 John 4:7–8
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born [1] of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Matthew 18:21–22
There are a plethora of teachings about forgiveness as well.. one of which is:
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my
brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven
times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Qingu's avatar

Everyone makes mistakes. What exactly do you think you need “forgiveness” from?

I have no ideas about the details of your situation, so I can’t really offer any specific advice. But I do have some general advice: have you thought about getting a cat? I can’t even express how much happier and “connected” raising my cat has made me feel. Taking responsibility for a life other than your own might help you as well.

Anyway, good luck with whatever you’re going through.

mcbealer's avatar

forgiveness is a decision

nebule's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater I was brought up in a Christian family that insisted on the virtues of saying sorry and forgiving but I could never really get it…sometimes…i don’t mean all the time… I was renowned for saying “i don’t see why i should say sorry, when i don’t feel sorry” I think they thought i was just being difficult and naughty… No, I really just didn’t feel it…does that make me inherently “bad” My question is more how to feel it… How do you get to that point when you are wanting to forgive seven times seven… I know i should and need to forgive…it’s the HOW i’m struggling with.

@Qingu I need forgiveness for turning my back on myself… my true self..the self thaqt i should love…instead i just hate myself for everything stupid and bad that i have done. I do actually have a son who is 2, who spend most of my energy looking after…which seems to make it more difficult for me concentrate on forgiving and loving myself…maybe I’m just being selfish though.

@mcbealer so how do we get to that decision?

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

When my daughter was 5, she had perfectionist tendencies that were becoming problematic and compulsive. A counselor suggested that I try deliberately teaching her that it was okay make mistakes, by pointing out my own, and pointing out that the world didn’t end. Mistakes, after all, are only mistakes if you don’t correct them. Otherwise, they are “learning opportunities.” By working through how to help my daughter, I actually helped myself.

Qingu's avatar

@lynneblundell, I don’t have any kids, and I’m an atheist… so I don’t know how much help I can be towards what you’re going through. I would still recommend the cat though!

From an atheist perspective, I think the idea of sin as this metaphysical evil force that we need to cultivate guilt and get constant external forgiveness from is kind of insane. I think people ought to be judged—and judge themselves—based on their actions, and the extent to which their actions hurt others. How much have you really hurt others? And are the people you’ve hurt able to forgive you? Have you learned from your mistakes?

I don’t think you need to work on feeling sorry, just as long as you’ve honestly faced the situation and recognized how, exactly, your actions have caused others harm.

Also, I think it’s easy to get into this spiral inside your own mind where you’re constantly reflecting and doubting yourself. When that happens to me I just try to occupy myself with something in the outside world. Our brains and emotions, like it or not, are actually mostly on autopilot and I think it’s difficult to change the way they operate through pure mental action alone.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@lynneblundell Being raised in a Christian home you must know that we are all inherently bad in a sense… but it’s not as bad as it sounds =) It would seem that it is the painful, rewarding, depressing, uplifting, joyful struggle of life to combat this inherent “bad” and become more like Christ.

How can we achieve a point where we want to forgive? Well, since God is love.. I think we should become more like Him.( (Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.) (Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.) )

At any point you can tell me to hush and I will. =) It’s just a passionate subject for me because I’ve had to.. and continue to.. learn this same lesson.

DrBill's avatar

You need to stop living in the past, what is done, is done. It’s time to move on.

The only time you need forgiveness is if you did something harmful to someone else, then you need forgiveness from them. If you only hurt yourself, consider it a learning experience and move on.

The person you are today are the sum total of all the decisions you have made in your life, who you will be depends on the decisions you will make from now on. If you want to be a better person, make the decisions as if you already are, the person you are becoming.

Jack79's avatar

First of all, you are right about saying “sorry” and feeling sorry. Religion itself only accepts remorse if it is genuine, and it’s even worse to say sorry when you don’t mean it than to not say sorry at all.

The question though is how to overcome your own guilt. You are not accused of any sin or crime against others, so there is nobody to forgive you. Incidentally, what you are going through is a very common syndrome of mothers in your condition. And I have met several in the past few years.

From a sociological perspective, this is a sign of the times, and not at all surprising when you think of it. We are a generation that have fallen through the cracks. Your son and my daughter will not have to face this, but we do.

Your issue however seems to be a personal one. Since I am not a woman, I cannot really pretend to understand what you’re going through. I have only seen it happen to others, but found it easy to cope with myself for very simple biological reasons. Getting up every 3 hours to feed my kid is a piece of cake for me. Being with her 24 hours and having no social life is actually my idea of fun. As is having a house full of toddlers everyday and cleaning up the mess afterwards. And I never even thought of sex or even dating until it just happened. But I do not expect any woman to be like that. You do need a balance in your life, and you need the support of people that can help you find it. From what you’ve said, your love life is not that uncomplicated either. Quite a mouthful for any woman, especially one with a 2-year-old to look after.

But sorry, these are no solutions, just an understanding of how you must feel. All I can say from my own experience is that your problem seems to be of a purely psychological nature. You are feeling guilty towards yourself and no one else. And the best way to get over it is to have a clear conscience. Do the things that would make you feel better, make the effort, give everything another chance. Even though I am personally not in a good place right now, I at least have my conscience clear that I have done the best I could in every respect, and towards everyone involved. And it is this thought alone that lets me sleep at night.

pekenoe's avatar

as DrBill said, forgive the past, you cannot change it.
Ask yourself every morning when arising for guidance to be “The best you can be”.
If you are religious, ask God, as I do, for guidance to be perfect in His eyes and give thanks every eve. Talk to a mental consoler and get suggestions, medication may be necessary also.
I hope you can find peace, I have through mental consoling, prayer, and medication. Seems like overkill, but I really did have to use everything available. Trust me, it is totally worth it to do whatever it takes.

nebule's avatar

thank you thank you thank you all…reading your entry @Jack79 and you are spot on…got me in tears again it is personal..i haven’t really hurt anyone else…although probably a few people mildly but i know they have forgiven me…it’s mainly like i say how i feel about myself and learning to love myself…giving myself a break…not feeling bad about every single little thing. even finding the things that i love doing seems hard but ..well your answers have helped give me a bit more patience with myself x

loser's avatar

To me, it’s like school. I didn’t know how to be a dental assistant until I went to college. Loving and forgiving myself were things I had no clue how to do until I was taught. I saw a therapist for seven years and learned some very important tools and things about myself that helped me to use those tools. Some days I’m better with my tools than others, though!
I probably need a refresher course!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@lynneblundell I know where you are coming from, I have felt the same way. It takes time, and it takes knowing that no one is perfect. And most of all, don’t compare yourself to other people, you don’t know how fucked up they really are.

For some people religion works. For me, religion only made it worse. All that sin talk and bowing and scraping before some ‘being’ I wasn’t even sure existed. Saying sorry to someone you have wronged makes sense. Saying sorry to some invisible guy in the clouds just seems silly, in my humble opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

Forgiveness, and love are just ideas. So are the opposites, blame and hate. The mindfulness approach to this is to learn to separate yourself from these ideas, and learn how to treat them as just thoughts, instead of an emergency situation. The idea is that you can’t banish these ideas, but you can change the respect you give them.

I don’t know that much about this yet. One technique I learned was that, when I think something like, “I’m just shit,” to take a two step process to back away from it. First you think to yourself, ‘I’m thinking that I’m shit.’ The second thought is ‘I notice that I’m thinking that I’m shit.’

You should try this, and see what happens.


Most people notice a kind of distancing from the thought. It no longer seems quite as urgent.

Eventually, you learn, supposedly, how to do this even more effectively. You get to the point where you are noticing a lot of thoughts, and then letting them go. You kind of screen your thoughts by asking, ‘is this thought helpful to me? Does it get me where I want to go?’ If you answer is no, you distance yourself and notice the thought is lying around, buy you don’t try to banish it, nor do you try to engage it. If the thought is helpful, then you can engage it and follow it through.

It’s difficult to control your thoughts. Your brain just keeps on going and going and going. With mindfulness, you don’t even try to control them. Instead, you detach yourself from your thoughts, and become more discriminating about which you will pay attention to, and which you will see, but kind of ignore, like a stray dog.

You are not your thoughts @lynneblundell. Part of you is thoughts, but not all of you. Also, you are separate from your thoughts, and can choose which ones to allow to be important.

nebule's avatar

@daloon have you read The Power of Now by any chance? Eckhart Tolle… I read this sometime ago and you’ve prompted me to remember that i felt rather at calm and peaceful within myself when i read it… i think i’ll have another dive in… very similar to what you are saying anyway!... thanks for reminding me x

introv's avatar

I’ve fairly recently, through a series of what appeared to be coincidences, even though I understood they were a far more powerful series of events than can possibly really just be coincidence, been introduced to Gnostic philosophy and the experience of Gnosis.

The belief that existence, and everything in it, is a story lit by the awareness of the primal imagination, and allowing myself to step out of the story and witness events from the point of view of awareness, really has changed my entire perspective on life and made me love more than just myself – although the loving of myself is a very happy effect too!

Because we are all one entity, all connected at the core of our being, existing within a story of separateness at the outer edge, but really existing in a state of oneness in our essence, it is becoming easier to love everything within the story (when viewed from the outside, it isn’t so easy when playing my part within the story).

To be honest, even before experiencing this shift in belief I was fairly fond of myself anyway. But since I have now learned to step out of the story (which i do on a regular basis) I even love my faults as I understand I never do anything too stupid, nor do I do anything too clever… I just do (or my character does), and it is all beautiful as I love the story that much – and I want everyone else to love the story too – as does the author of the story!

So here I am saying this to you! :)

Anyway, enough preaching and bad describing thingies from me… I would, very highly, recommend The Gospel of the Second Coming. I loved it!

JM's avatar

when Jesus was asked, ” which commandment is most important of all?” He answered by quoting the two great commandments. the first is, ” love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” the second is, ” love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
what is the relationship of these two commandments? God wants us to love Him with our total beings without any reservations. then because we love God, we will also love ourselves and our neighbors.

we are all God’s workmanship, and it would be ingratitude on our part not to show appreciation for what God has created.

if you truly love God, therefore learn to love yourself by forgiving yourself when you make mistakes and fail.

loving ourselves does not mean selfishness. It is the basis of loving others.

when you do wrong do you keep remembering it?

If we love ourselves, we will not dwell on our past mistakes or failures. We will stop blaming ourselves for unpleasant experiences. Once we have asked God to forgive us, we should be able to forgive ourselves and forget the past. If God has forgiven us, why can’t we? we should learn from our mistakes and failures, but we should not emain bound by them.

God bless you.. i just learn this things from our sunday’s school. :)

Shippy's avatar

“Welcome to the human race”.

Those words were very healing when I first had therapy, many years ago. My therapist said it in response to my saying ” I have done so many bad things”.

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