#14 Forgiveness is exhausting, but worth your time


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What? We are still working on self-compassion?!  And that's somehow related to forgiveness? Yup.  Welcome to part 5 of this 6-part series. 

In this episode you will learn:

  1. The 5 steps to forgiveness
  2. Some ways to forgive others and why that’s useful for you
  3. Some ways to forgive yourself and why that’s useful for you


Let’s start by saying this… forgiveness is really freaking hard.  It’s exhausting. But spending time and energy and thoughts and emotions on being angry at yourself or someone else is also exhausting.  Ugh. And, no surprise, self-compassion is a big part of forgiveness.  


What I’m NOT saying:

I am NOT saying you have to forgive anyone or everyone. I am NOT saying that everything is forgivable. I believe that some things might be unforgivable.  I am NOT saying that forgiveness is the answer to everything.  


What I am saying:

Forgiveness is a powerful practice.  That it’s something worth your time and energy to consider and try out.  That there might be things you are holding onto that aren’t worth your time and energy anymore.  


I am not a therapist

I think by now you know that I am a big fan of using mental health professionals (check out this episode here).  These are people who are professionally trained to help me understand my thoughts and emotions. If you are wanting to dive deep into forgiveness and work through some serious stuff - please find a mental health professional to help you do this.  It is soooooo worth the time and effort.  


Let’s start with the smaller stuff

It’s important to recognize that this podcast is focused on the smaller things that we are capable of working through on our own.  Things like when you asked your bestie, “Oh, you asked for that haircut?” Or yelled at your kids just because you were tired. Or forgot your Mom’s birthday, again.  Or the friend that forgot your birthday, again. Or the ‘friend’ who loves to tell you what you should be doing or what you could be doing better. Or the client who manspains things to you.  The big stuff, like trauma or abuse or neglect - it’s totally worth working on, but that’s best done with the support of a trained therapist. 


5 steps to forgiveness:

These are the five steps of forgiveness, and a brief summary of how I interpreted each step based on Neff’s work (Neff and Germer, 2018).  The podcast dives a little deeper, as does Neff’s book.  

  1. Opening to pain - Whatever happened hurt you, it caused pain, notice it.
  2. Self-compassion - It’s ok that I feel pain about this because I’m human.  
  3. Wisdom - How can I look at this rationally?  Can I take a step back and see the bigger picture?
  4. Intention to forgive - How can I set an intention to forgive myself/other person?  Write a statement of this that makes sense to you….”May I begin to forgive….for…”
  5. Responsibility to protect - How can I prevent this from happening again?

Forgiving others:

Why?  Well we could talk about how it’s the ‘right thing to do,’ but that’s a platitude.  I think it’s important to forgive others because we are losing time and energy to hanging onto whatever it is.  When I go over and over my anger and resentment in my head it just builds on itself. I spend time and energy thinking about it.  That’s time and energy that could be going to something that I want to or need to be doing.  

You can be a total rock star and go through all five steps, but I thought that seemed like a lot, so I picked two places to start with forgiving others.  

  1. Self-compassion -  Of course I picked this one!  But here’s why. Sometimes people do things that hurt you and it’s ok that you feel hurt by that.  You don’t have to like everyone AND it’s ok to not like the things that people do. I think there’s a lot of pressure to be ‘accepting’ - and sometimes, because we are human, we just don’t like people.  That’s fine. Have some self compassion that you aren’t going to like and get along with everyone. You are human, and so are they (probably).  

Ask yourself:  Am I ready to forgive this person?  And if you aren’t - then don’t. Be kind to yourself.  You get to decide when you are ready.  

  1. Responsibility to protect - How can you make sure that whatever happened doesn’t happen again?  It’s ok to try to protect yourself as best you can.


Forgiveness of yourself

Learning to forgive ourselves is some really freaking hard stuff.  It’s exhausting. But again, it’s so worth it because you are wasting time and energy thinking about what you think you did wrong or the mistake you made.  How can you stop that cycle so that you stop losing energy to it?  

We are going to go very simple with this one….

“May I accept myself as I am.” 

Yup, that’s it.  Try putting that on a post it note or saying it to yourself whenever you are being self-critical or finding it challenging to forgive yourself.

It won’t fix everything, but it’s a powerful and simple way to start.


Action step:

What’s one small thing you could do today to forgive someone else or forgive yourself?  Do it!


6 Part Series on Self-Compassion

Part 1  #10 Self-Compassion, Your New Favorite SuperPower

Part 2: #11 SIX Myths About Self-Compassion that are Limiting You

Part 3: #12 Three Steps to Be Nice to Yourself When Things SUCK

Part 4: #13 Steps to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others

Part 5: #14 Forgiveness is exhausting, but worth your time

Part 6: #15 How to Appreciate your Awesomeness


Kristen Neff, Over Coming Objections to Self-Compassion Video

Kristen Neff, 2015, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer, 2019, Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program

Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer, 2018, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook

You can dive deep into some the benefits in Dr. Neff's books above, but here is a helpful summary.


Don't miss out on the entire 6-part series on self-compassion!

Start with Episode 10: Self-compassion, Your New Favorite Super-Power



I wish you a healthy, happy, and mostly sane week!

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