I recently read a little proverb that said, “Treat others’ faults as gently as you would your own.” Dear readers, I promise you now that I will NEVER treat you as I treat myself. You see, self-forgiveness is a difficult task for me. I am my own worst critic and, I suppose, in some subconscious way I hold myself to a higher standard.
I recognize that those higher standards were ingrained during my childhood. Our household was “old school” in regards to male and female roles and expectations. As a girl, I was expected to do better in school than my brothers, expected to bring home a lot of A’s with perhaps an occasional B. I was expected to dress ‘appropriately and modestly’ in public, even when the school dress code became much more liberal. These types of expectations set me up to believe that I was to have higher standards than others.
And I get that – I understand it intellectually. But there is another disquieting voice in my head that asks me why I should think myself so much better than others to hold myself to that higher standard? I am well aware that I’m human, with a plethora of faults (many of which I could list). I know people who should be held in much higher esteem than that of which I’m worthy. They are smarter, kinder, more compassionate, more caring than I could ever hope to achieve. And I’m pretty sure they don’t hold themselves to a different standard just because of those traits. So why do I do it to myself?
In most cases, I’m quick to forgive others. In extreme cases, where the pain that as caused is complex and traumatic, it takes me longer. I only still carry unforgiveness for one transgressor in my life; after over four years, I still find the place it occurred and the words that were spoken to be totally disrespectful of me as a person, not to mention terribly awkward to the bystanders who heard it.
Why then, am I unable to forgive myself as easily? Why do I still remember incidents in years past where I believe I behaved poorly and still feel angry at myself for it? In my blog article “Social Consciousness”, I mention pre-apologizing if I think I may end up being less than the kind and patient person I want to be. Is that tied into this, too?
Does anyone else struggle with this, or is it just me? Does anyone out there have advice or tools that might help me forgive myself? I’ve read articles upon articles, and I comprehend them intellectually, but have difficulty transferring them from my brain to my heart. How do you deal with this? Any insight would be welcomed!