In our world today we hold so much shame in our hearts. I know I do. Or at least I did. Until I learned Forgiveness. But what is forgiveness? Does it mean we are simply supposed to forget the past. To pretend it didn’t happen and move forward never thinking about it again?

Forgiveness starts with yourself. And it arrives from Awareness. It arrives from remembering our past, and honestly confronting the mistakes which bring us regret. It comes from taking ownership of the role you played in your mistake. And it is solidified when we make the decision to never make that mistake again. Forgiveness does not arrive from pretending everything we did was perfectly acceptable. Forgiveness arrives when we accept that what we did was wrong and take measures to ensure our actions are never repeated.

It turns out that Loving ourselves it tightly linked to our ability to Forgive ourselves. I know this because for a long time I did not Love myself. I also did not forgive myself. I had ruined all of my relationships, I had lost money, respect, dignity and pride. Such a fool. And I can never take it back. But I can move forward with forgiveness and Love and make sure I never act like a fool again. I can look at my mistakes and try to figure out what caused me to react in the way I did. I can identify the triggers so that I recognize them in the future. And I can begin to Trust myself again.

The funny thing about forgiving yourself in this manner, is that you start to come to a realization. You start to see that you are not at all perfect. That you have made many mistakes. Some small, but others large. You have hurt people. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes we do not even know we have hurt people until years later. But if we can do these things, and still deserve to be forgiven, then surely others deserve forgiveness as well. In fact, before we can ever truly forgive others and honestly carry no grudges, we must first come to this crucial realization. The realization that if we deserve forgiveness despite our transgressions, so do others as well.

If we do not first learn to forgive ourselves, our forgiveness of others will never be truly sincere. It will always feel tainted, forced or somehow like we have compromised and lost. We must be able to accept that all people are human. All people make mistakes. But that does not mean they intended to hurt you. And even if they did it does not mean they still wish to hurt you. And even if they do, it does not mean they know what they are doing. Forgiveness must start with ourselves. It must come from the realization that we have screwed up, over and over again, yet we know we are still good people, deep down in our hearts. We can live in shame and regret and denial. Or we can look at our past with honesty and compassion and begin the long process of forgiving ourselves.

And in the end, once you master forgiving yourself, you start to see a new pattern appear. Most, not all, but most of the suffering in your life has come from not forgiving others when they make a mistake. From taking offense to silly comments. From rewinding a nasty scenario over and over in your head. From resentments and regrets and grudges. Most of the suffering in our lives comes from our inability to forgive. If we just forgave people, we would soon start to see that nothing they can do can ever harm us. Because we know who we are. We know how we got here. And we know we deserve to be Loved. So how could any other person’s actions change that?

I have made mistakes. I have hurt many people in the past. But in the end, it was never my intention to hurt them. I was usually just being selfish, or blind, or impatient. I forgive myself because I know that I am done with those days of Selfishness. I am done being blind. I am ready to live in Love.

And I forgive you. Please know I forgive you. It doesn’t matter what you did. It doesn’t matter why you did it. I still Love you. As long as you still Love me, then I will always forgive you.