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Forgive Yourself

August 24, 2018

Forgive Yourself:  A Key to Opening Up Possibilities

By Jeanine Izzo

In my article, False Starts, one of the forward moving tips is to forgive yourself for your failures.  These alleged failures include struggles, the should haves and supposed to do’s, the sharp words, the mis-steps, unflattering thoughts and judgments.  For some, it may even be important to forgive yourself for your success (believe it or not, success can make some people feel guilty).

The culmination of your experiences have brought you to where you are today.  Whether you find yourself feeling inspired or stifled can be linked to how other people treat you, yet more secretly to how you treat yourself.   How do you treat yourself when you wish you would have acted differently?

  1. Blame someone else?
  2. Minimize or justify your actions?
  3. Suppress your thoughts and feelings?
  4. Beat yourself up?  (feel angry, guilty, undeserving)
  5. Take outward steps to reconcile?
  6. Take inward steps to forgive?

Most people have done some or all of these.  The first four tend to prolong our pain and ability to learn and develop.  Number 5 might be an olive branch which may or may not be received or reciprocated by the other person.  Regardless of the outcome, it can be an important step toward number six…forgiving yourself.

As an example, once I was out socially and someone who, in my opinion, was acting obnoxious and oblivious.  They pushed my buttons and ’caused’ me to act in an unbecoming way.  Even though I felt they were the antagonist, I reached out to apologize due to my behavior.  Their response was lukewarm at best and did not even hint at reciprocating the apology.  Even though, the outcome does not seem ideal, it did allow me to accept my behavior and forgive myself.  Whereas I may not feel great about what happened or the outcome, I do feel good about the steps I took to correct for the event.

In a past professional situation, In order to even have a chance at someone forgiving me, I had to forgive myself first. That meant acknowledging that I had done something wrong.  Even though I could justify it intellectually (and put the onus on someone else)…it still weighed on me.  When I was leading cross-functional teams, a high visibility risk occurred on one of my projects and I was pressed to throw someone under the bus to feed the chest pounding among certain senior managers.  I tried to take the blame, but that didn’t fly.  Using different words with the same intent, they asked me “Who can we fry?”  I negotiated hard to minimize the fallout, yet there was fallout nonetheless for one of my team members. It was a totally unproductive activity that impacted my relationship with this conscientious and very professional person. I was angry at the ‘leader’ that forced a blame exchange, yet I was more infuriated with myself for agreeing to a lesser charge when no charge and corrective action would have been the best choice.  In between losing sleep and taking steps to re-shore my character, I had to forgive myself.  I had to think about the person I wanted to be.  Did I want to act in fear of losing my job or in fear of losing my character.  Moving forward, I chose the latter.

In other examples, I have worked with clients that are so wound up with anger for not being considered for a promotion, or frustrated with their team members for not being accountable, or with their manager for not communicating with them.  Of course, they blame the other person (who could have acted differently).  After relatively short conversations, it becomes clear that they are also upset with themselves for not expressing their interest, not following through on their own action items and not seeking clarification, respectively.

Of course, forgiving yourself doesn’t erase those events or non events, however it does allow you to utilize them to release weight that holds you back.  We have a choice.  We can hold onto dis-empowering external blame, or we can invest in ourselves by taking ownership and action that heals and prepares us for future opportunities.

Forward moving tips:

  1. Write down three occurrences that left you feeling disappointed.
  2. Look internally to see how you added to the situation/outcome.
  3. Recollect what led you to make the decision you made.
  4. Reflect on what you learned and how it has impacted you.
  5. Determine what actions you can take to smooth over a previous situation.
  6. Decide how you want to act in the future.
  7. Realize that releasing the past makes room for new possibilities.

Because we are human, we are going to do things that upset ourselves and others.  Rather than continually absorbing these experiences, it is healthier to learn, forgive and release.

For assistance with helping you and your team release the past and move onto more fulfilling experiences…Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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