Are You Forgiving Yourself?

Why is self forgiveness one of the most challenging types of forgiveness? Is there a link between our ability to forgive ourselves versus our ability to forgive others? How do we get better at self forgiveness?

September 28, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banner is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:19  
Melissa, I was thinking about self forgiveness. And it's what I noticed with people is that they have a really hard time forgiving themselves, and they get really, really stuck on this, like, way after everyone else has forgiven them for knowing their dumb behavior, whatever they did, or whatever they, you know, whatever ruckus they caused, they hold on to that for way longer than everyone else. Yeah. And it's like, some form of like, personal torment.

Melissa Albers  0:57  
Yeah, it is. It's really sad to watch too. Yeah. And it's really, really hard to be that person. I've been that person many, many times, probably even in the last two weeks.

JJ Parker  1:11  
What? Yeah, so like, I, I was thinking about, like, why is it so much harder for us to forgive ourselves than it is for us to forgive other people?

Melissa Albers  1:21  
And, you know, what else is funny? I think that's, that's one side of the equation. You know, and I think the other side of the equation is, is not recognizing that the reason we still feel bad about something, is because we haven't even considered forgiving ourselves. Like, we have a fight with somebody or whatever. And we either have decided to forgive someone else or decided we aren't going to, but we don't even realize that we're in that equation that we need to also address our own forgiveness. Yeah, like, somebody but some people rail against forgiving themselves. And some people don't even realize that that's part of something that needs to happen.

JJ Parker  2:02  
Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I had a longtime friend and that. Like, our relationship, just like kind of went sideways. And then like, years later, I remember him making some comment, like, like about, like, how it's really hard for him to get over his past bad behavior. has like, Dude, I just like I forgave you, like, years ago. I don't even remember that. And like, I can't even remember it. Right? Yeah. But he's still stuck on it. Yeah. To the point where it's like, it's just not ever going to go back to the way it was like, we're not ever going to be able to like have a relationship again, because it just right. Maybe someday, right. But like as a years of Yeah. Being stuck on. Yeah. Not forgiving himself. Right. Yeah. Which is hard ages, people. I

Melissa Albers  2:59  
think it changes people actually. And it leaves all sorts of open wounds, which then prevent people from going on and being who they're meant to be in the next part of their lives.

JJ Parker  3:10  
Yeah. So I think self forgiveness to me, there's like, there's big events, right? Yeah, there's really big events that are truly, really hard to get over. Yeah. And take a lot of work. And yeah, there's other events that are like, paper cuts. Mm hmm. But like, 1000 paper cuts? Yeah. is super painful.

Melissa Albers  3:29  
Yeah. Yes, indeed.

JJ Parker  3:33  
So it's idea that like, we're kind of like our own worst critic, and we don't let let ourselves off the hook is Yeah, it's hard. Yeah. So is googling this.

Melissa Albers  3:46  
Right. Yay. Like, did you find?

JJ Parker  3:49  
Well, I just like, because I would know, I was thinking about it as like, I think I wonder what other people are kind of like talking about with this idea of self forgiveness, right. Yeah. And there's a lot of, it's a kind of, like, in this mental wellness conversation that I even talked about, with people at, like, at work, right about, like, about balance and being in the moment and triggers and, and, and those things, but I don't often talk about self forgiveness with people. Right? It's kind of like, yeah, I don't think I'm doing right. I mean, in your coaching, do you say like, okay, let's talk about self forgiveness, right. Maybe you do.

Melissa Albers  4:36  
Yeah, I actually sometimes that I do, but but even if, when even when the topic comes up, there's still resistance.

JJ Parker  4:44  
Yeah. So sometimes I like to just hit the internet to see if like, the general conversation so I came across an article. No seven tips for practicing self forgiveness.

Melissa Albers  4:55  

JJ Parker  4:56  
yay, y'all hop in.

Melissa Albers  4:58  
Yeah, let's hop let's do it. Alright, so

JJ Parker  5:00  
the first tip is to define forgiveness. Like what does forgiveness mean to you? What is what is actually forgiving yourself? What like for you?

Melissa Albers  5:13  
Oh, that's interesting. Okay. What does it mean to you? Hmm? So just do those does the list give you like, break it down? Further? Like, ah, I

JJ Parker  5:25  
didn't read that. I didn't read that far. I

Melissa Albers  5:26  
just grabbed the list. Oh, fine. Okay. All right. Well, well, I

JJ Parker  5:29  
thought you and I could break it down. For sure. Of

Melissa Albers  5:32  
course we can. So what does that mean? So for me what I would what I instantly went to is how, what's the feeling behind it? That's what I did. I was like, what does it feel like? To forgive yourself? Like, well, even if you don't say yourself, what is the feeling of forgiveness? That's the first thing that I went, right. Yeah, yeah.

JJ Parker  5:56  
Yeah. To me, it's like, you have a like a, like, to me, I'd have like, have a really heavy feeling. Mm hmm. Until the forgiveness happens. And then everything just like becomes lighter.

Melissa Albers  6:08  
Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Same. Yeah. Yeah. Same same, almost like I almost want to say to, to almost to a euphoria. Thinking can be depends on what the topic is. Yeah. But they, but the so what you're saying is, what forgiveness means to you is the absence of a bad feeling. I think so. Okay. Yeah. That's interesting. Okay, yeah, I'm down with that. I think that's part of it. And then I think the other part is like trying to identify what it feels like right after you've forgiven like that, and being able to contrast those two things.

JJ Parker  6:43  
Yeah, like the transition? Mm hmm. Right.

Melissa Albers  6:45  
Mm hmm.

JJ Parker  6:49  
Number two acknowledge, acknowledge your feelings. Right. This is what we just kind of talked about. Right?

Melissa Albers  6:56  
Yeah. Well, the first part to me is even like trying to figure out what they are. Yeah. Okay. Acknowledge is good, right? Because sometimes we don't want to. We just don't want to as we're shamed or guilty, or, you know, yeah, usually wrong.

JJ Parker  7:19  
Right. So like, actually, back to the define one. There's now we're kind of like figuring it out. Right. Like, the why, like, why do I need to forgive myself? Because I'm feeling ashamed of some behavior. I did. I yeah, I wish I didn't, hadn't done something. I wish I would have done something differently. Right. Yeah. It's like, ruminating on, like an action or a behavior. Yeah. And, and you just like, criticizing yourself over and over. And not really making any progress. Yeah, through that.

Melissa Albers  7:54  
Yeah. And then you know, what happens at that stage? We start making excuses about why it feels terrible. Yeah. Well, they would have just been this and I would have never done that.

JJ Parker  8:05  
I like blaming other people. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  8:07  
Or, or why don't really feel like that. I'm just, I'm just this or I'm just sick of how it's been. Or I'm just right. So that's what usually happens. You don't acknowledge the real feeling we acknowledge the secondary feelings that come up from our feeling of shame over the first feeling. Yep. Which is the self awareness journey.

JJ Parker  8:28  
So right acknowledge your feelings, like actually get to what those feelings are? Say. Yep. I'm totally feeling ashamed. Oh, yeah.

Melissa Albers  8:36  
Yeah. Funny all we don't want to do that at all. It's not like we're putting it out on a billboard. Nobody even

JJ Parker  8:42  
know. Right?

Melissa Albers  8:45  
Like, no one knows that. We're doing this. We're so fun. I

JJ Parker  8:51  
get a t shirt. Like I'm an asshole.

Number three, acknowledge what you did. Hmm. Right. You're kind of into that way. Yeah. A little bit. Like cuz like, the easy thing is just blame other people. Like, yeah, like, like, now I mean, right. You can say like, Well, I was a jerk in that meeting, but I would you know, this or that provoked me. Right. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  9:21  
Or, you know what, I'm going to introduce something that could be unpopular here. Okay. There's a lot of times in relationships that are not good for us, or relationships that we've outgrown. When people blame the other person, even in abusive relationships, not just physical but like mental abuse or relationships that are not even right. It is very typical for people that were in the subordinate part of that relationship or the victim part of that relationship to 100. under percent blame the other person and acknowledge all the things that they did wrong. And when they talk about it with other people, they explain what a jerk that person was they do all these things, setting that other person up for the complete failure of the relationship. And very seldom, even in a victim relationship. Do people say, what part of this is mine? Yeah. And I think that is extremely critical, even in, even in situations where it doesn't make sense. What does this have to do with me is a really important question. And and that's something that I talk with my coach a lot about is like, what does this have to do? What part of this has to do with me? Because even in a victim style, and that's the unpopular part, there is some level of responsibility for staying or being in that situation, in that you left, it was great, whatever ended up happening, but you still need to forgive yourself, because and own the part that kept you there as long as it as it did. Yeah. And I think that's really hard for people to do that. So much easier just to set up

JJ Parker  11:13  
before. Yeah, this idea that, like, you don't, in a bad relationship, like you still use you still, you know, the victim person, like still played the part.

Melissa Albers  11:26  
Yeah. And you see people in the workplace have huge victim status. So I mean, doesn't even have to be like a big, really huge example of abuse, it just, it could simply be a bad work environment, it could be relationship with a boss, that's not great. It could go with a peer that treats you like crap or tries to take gets, you know, tries to take over what you've done or take credit for things that you've done, and you don't have a voice over that. And then it becomes very easy to say, I left that job because these people did this when the culture was this,

JJ Parker  11:59  
you know, so So acknowledging what you did. Yeah, for sure. Part of I think this is all three of those, right? Sure. Yep. Next, apologize. Right, when you stick your foot in your mouth, and then you realize it. Yeah, then you should just apologize. That sounds super simple. But I can tell you, that's kind of hard to do. Because you kind of like, swallow your pride a little bit, you know?

Melissa Albers  12:26  
Yeah. Yeah. You know what, there's nothing worse than you can record good apology. I see people wreck apologies all the time. In what way? Well, when you are making those, like overtures, authentic overtures to say you're sorry? Just apologize. And don't don't try to pack it with anything else? Or just other words, right? Well, I did this because, you know, where there's a justification or, and, or a but I'm sorry, but every time you do this, it makes me mad. Yeah. That completely negates the entire apology. So it's the pure apology. That is what we're looking for, I think in this stuff. Yep. Well, my at least assuming that I've never seen a list. So that's what that person meant when they wrote this list.

JJ Parker  13:22  
Using the titles of those lists to make our own conversation. Yeah, you know, Why think apologizing? Right, and apologizing to someone else's always it is like, you know, sometimes you, you kind of dread it, right? Like, you don't want to go do that. Yeah. But after it's, it helps you get through the process. Right? Totally. And if you never apologize, and then you always, and then you carry that guilt and shame around with you for like years on end. Right. Then you can't ever get to self forgiveness, right? Yes, the apology is part of the process. And if you skip it, then yeah, you're still gonna get stuck there.

Melissa Albers  14:08  
Yeah, you're skipping the most important part, right.

JJ Parker  14:13  
Next, focus on what you learned,

Melissa Albers  14:16  
huh? That's so funny. We were just talking about this a little while ago on a different topic, weren't we? It's like, Well, what we I think you and I do that a lot, don't you? It's like trying to talk about okay, well, this experience happened and what what did we learn? Yeah. And I think apologies and forgiveness are in that same vein. It's like, what did you learn? So it's like, it's like the self reflection part.

JJ Parker  14:42  
Right? Yeah, I mean, to me, it's like I even like, in, I'd say probably like all aspects of my life. Like for me, it's, it's all around what you learned. I like Even even for work stuff, my, my mentality is like fail fast fail often. It's because like, the faster we screw up, the faster we can learn from like the things that don't work. Yeah. And there does seem to be like, a lot of pressure, especially like in social contexts to be perfect to not screw up. Yeah, right. But screw ups. Okay. As long as you can learn from it, right? As long as you can apologize, you can learn from it, and you can move on, then to me. Like, like, it's okay. Yeah. But it's hard to sometimes reflect and learn, right? Yeah,

Melissa Albers  15:50  
well, particularly, I think this is, you know, like this, this is a great, perfect list, again, theory and talking about something so much easier than the actual living of it. But I think when we get to this stage is, you know, when we're, what did we learn? I think that's a really easy trap. Because a lot of the times, the things that we want to forgive ourselves for are the repetitive things that we do all the time that we just get so mad at ourselves that we can't stop doing, you know, whether it be getting in the last word, or whether it be having a bad habit that we're having a hard time leaving, it's, and then we end up falling from grace, and we end up you know, again, doing it or again, saying it or again being at and it's like, What do you mean, what did I learn? Like, I think sometimes it's really hard to do that. Take your inventory.

JJ Parker  16:38  
It is and when you say like, well, I like a bad habit. Yeah. You know, what I thought of is like that, that script that that people play in their head so many times. It's like, Why do I always exactly why do I always XYZ, right. Yeah. And when you're in that, why do I always mode? It is? It's hard to it is hard to find the lesson? Yeah, Matt?

Melissa Albers  17:04  
Yeah. Because we're in shame, where it really shaming ourselves at that tail.

JJ Parker  17:08  
Yeah. And there again, you've kind of stopped the self forgiveness process. Yeah, they're probably the easiest way to focus on what you've learned is, get a podcast and talk about it.

Melissa Albers  17:23  
Yeah, that works. But you have to be with someone that you trust. You don't want to be with like a sibling that's coming out after for you. And they're like, oh, yeah, you always do that. You are such a jerk about that. And that probably wouldn't be very helpful.

JJ Parker  17:43  
Sometimes, like having a thinking partner, yes. That you trust that your stuff that you feel safe with, to help you figure out maybe what you learned? Yeah. In order to help you, like, release and forgive yourself is really helpful.

Melissa Albers  18:01  
Yeah. And I think yes, and I think that it's really important that you choose people that are going to plus one, you as you and I say you trust that someone that you really trust to be emotionally intelligent, and observational, even if they're a close friend. Yeah. So that the information that they're giving you, helps you and doesn't hinder your ability to let something go and forgive

JJ Parker  18:28  
your data. And they don't, they don't like get sucked into us. But shame spiral. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, next, make meaningful changes.

Melissa Albers  18:43  
What do you think about that?

JJ Parker  18:46  
That's good and hard.

Melissa Albers  18:49  

JJ Parker  18:51  
Right. Like how many times it's like, Okay, I just, like stuck my foot in my mouth again. Yeah. Like, yeah, like, but to me, like, you always describe it so well is like, like describing a lot of stuff is like, their waves, right? And you're just trying to make the waves less intense every time around. Yeah. And that's what I always talk about is like, okay, I can just, I'm gonna I'm gonna stick my foot in my mouth. I can. But you know, what I can do is recognize it sooner apologize faster. Maybe. Yeah. When I kind of sense that I'm kind of getting into a mood where I might say something really dumb, right? I'm slowing down. Right? Just some, like making these small changes that actually do over time. Yeah, affect my behavior and like the way that I want. So there's

Melissa Albers  19:49  
this really cool thing that I've used in coaching over the years, and it's the Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin. habit changing process. So this would be something that might be really interesting at this stage when you're trying to make a meaningful change. But you really don't know how or when, or what or what does it feel like. And it's a three step process. And essentially, I won't go through all of it in extreme specificity. But generally, it is a six week program where the first couple of weeks, when you do something that is, again, that habit that you don't want to do. And you want to have that change the first two weeks, just notice when you do it, don't judge yourself, don't try to change it don't do anything, just notice. And you could even like put it on your phone as a little hash mark. And so you just kept you keep kind of a running tally. Oh, there, I just thought that way, again, oh, I just did that to get out there, I said that same thing again, there, I said it again. So just kind of collect that. And then the second stage of that is to the second stage is to write after you've done it. So you notice it again, because you've been making, you know, you're trying to change the habit, you've been noticing it with these little hash marks. This next stage is as soon as you notice it, after you've done it, say, Oh, I just say out loud, oh, I just got through doing this again. And I'm going to work on changing this to this new way. So you actually verbalize and then the third stage is, you'll notice it coming up. And before you do it, you actually divert your attention or divert your action into the new action. And you can do it. It's funny, like some people even if you think that that's a little harder, it's pretty simple, actually, when it's a very concrete simple thing, like, every time I catch myself saying, I'm not, why does this always happen to me, like, every time I hear the same thought, that's gonna be what I use as a tick mark, you can even like have a piece of jewelry, or you can wear a rubber band on a wrist or something. And every time you notice that you're doing it, take the rubber band off one wrist and put it on the other one. Physical action helps you retrain your, your thinking pattern, that might be something that people want to try in this stage.

JJ Parker  22:07  
So a thing that I will do. Especially like, you know, in the context of like, working with other people is that I will like when I kind of sense that I might just be on a track where I might like, not be speaking as eloquently as I'd like to actually, like pause for a second and just like, reset my intention. Right? Because the change I've made is like, Okay, I gotta stop for a second. Reset My intention for what I actually want here. So I don't say something stupid, or that I will regret later, or that was just not. Not were like really what I wanted, right? Yeah, like so it's like a way for me to become more thoughtful about that's, like, my, you know, my words and my behaviors. Yeah. So but it starts with I get attention.

Melissa Albers  23:14  
Yeah. So so so you're just saying literally take a pause in the moment, even if it's a positive doesn't make sense, or it's in a weird spot doesn't matter. Just gives you that little microsecond to switch something up?

JJ Parker  23:26  
Yep. Yeah. Interesting. Okay, last one. Last one. Number seven. Yeah, practice compassion. Oh,

Melissa Albers  23:35  
I love that.

JJ Parker  23:37  
Yeah. So when we talk about compassion, when people say, You should be more compassionate, you should be compassionate. should practice compassion. Yeah. It's often applied to other people. Yeah, right. Yes. 100 likes give other people grace. Be compassionate. Like everyone else. Everyone has their own story. Yeah, all that right. But applying compassion to yourself. Yeah, in the process of forgiving yourself, is really key and, and we forget to be gentler on ourselves,

Melissa Albers  24:10  
right? We would, if you look in the mirror, and you say out loud, some of the things that you think about yourself, you would never ever say those to anybody else. Never. Right? Yeah. And, and I will even go a step further in this with with being compassionate is you can't be authentically compassionate for others. 100% Unless you are compassionate with yourself. And that's the false. That's the falseness of not believing in yourself the way that you are trying to say that you believe in others, you know, when people say, Oh, I just really want to help others. You are not able to help others unless you help yourself first. If there's something in that that's false or something in that that's not complete. And so I

JJ Parker  24:56  
create it. You see it all the time. It's like you have to take care of yourself before you're capable of taking care of others and compassionate goes right in there. You have to Yeah, have compassion for yourself before you're truly compassionate for others,

Melissa Albers  25:11  
you know what I've learned? You know, I've given myself so much practice that forgiving, forgiving. Oh, I was

JJ Parker  25:18  
gonna say like, I've given you so much practice giving myself a hard time.

Melissa Albers  25:23  
Well, yes, yes. And forgiving myself, which I'm getting much better at. But I'll tell you something, the whole rest of the world looks kinder and gentler, the way I look at myself now, the rest of the world, even people that are in opposite political parties in situations that I just like, make my eyes get big. I see come I have compassion and empathy in those situations as well. And I think it's due to the fact that I've been doing so much work to have compassion for myself. And it really, really works. And it feels so good

JJ Parker  25:56  
when we do it out. Yeah. 100% agree with that. The it that being harsh on yourself judging yourself judgment. Yep. Puts out judgment. Makes you feel like everyone else is doing the same thing. Precisely. Right. Yeah. So if you change that feeling inside that, that narrative to more compassionate one, yeah, then you're right. The whole world feels much more compassionate.

Melissa Albers  26:27  
Great conversation.

JJ Parker  26:29  
As a fun list. I like doing list. I like doing list podcast. Yeah, I

Melissa Albers  26:32  
didn't do that. But I do to the Google.

JJ Parker  26:36  
So, devotee super wise part in words about about self forgiveness.

Melissa Albers  26:43  
Now, I think this has been a really good conversation, and I think it is at the forefront of all of the work that we do. We can't do any of this other work unless the forgiveness pieces, high and mighty in the front.

JJ Parker  26:56  
I agree.

Melissa Albers  26:58  
We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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