When we say ‘forgiveness,’ we often forget that forgiveness should start from within. For us to forgive another, we must first forgive ourselves.
We don’t realise how much bitterness and resentment we hold within ourselves until we face a similar situation. Over time, this bitterness grows into fear, walls, and biases, making it challenging to embrace a different path. But to move on, we must first forgive ourselves.
To forgive ourselves, we must first acknowledge what happened. Sometimes, these mistakes are not ours to bear; however, because of the expectations we place on ourselves to be perfect, we fail to see past the current situation. We say to ourselves, ‘never again,’ and shut ourselves off. Because we never confronted the first situation, we may find history repeating itself as this bitterness grows deep and imprints itself into our hearts, creating burdens we need to release.
Years later, we become a product of our traumas, unaware that we hold these biases unless someone calls them to our attention.
Some years ago, my friend called my attention to a prejudice I held so tightly that I didn’t even realise it was there.
What are the beliefs we hold as truths that are actually prejudices?
Just because I’ve had similar experiences with people of a certain gender in the past doesn’t mean every individual of that gender will act the same way in the future.
What happens with biases is that when we hold on to them so tightly, we close ourselves off from a part of the world. In my case, any man driving a car who stops me on the road must want something more. I couldn’t believe I held on so tightly to this mindset, thinking it was the absolute truth. I even mentioned this to my sister on our walk.
How long had I closed myself from love, friendship, or connection because of this bias?
I wept when I finally faced the truth I had been trying so hard to avoid because I felt so guilty that I had to talk to my friend about it. I let myself cry for all the hurt I’d been holding onto; for not loving myself enough to realize that I needed to forgive myself, and for being rude to a stranger whose only crime was stopping me on the road to ask for my friendship.
What follows from here is love, lessons, forgiveness, and self-compassion; love and forgiveness that comes from within; lessons learned from the incident; and a promise to be more open-minded. In this experience, we remember to be kind to ourselves as we work on moving forward.
‘We are a product of our traumas,’ my friend, Biodun, says. ‘Our traumas shape us and make us who we are.’
Imagine we give ourselves time, love, and care to forgive ourselves, learn from our situations, and move forward. Imagine we acknowledge that it is not our fault that these traumas happened to us. And imagine we write the future with so much love bursting through us as a byproduct of the lessons we learned and the love we allowed ourselves to feel and produce when we didn’t let that incident define us. We become love, telling love stories with kindness, passion, and sincerity towards others we meet on our way.