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First You must Be Able To Forgive Yourself Before You Can Forgive Someone Else

God Wants Me To Forgive Them!?! DVD Cover

God Wants Me To Forgive Them!?! DVD Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

You must be able to forgive yourself before you can forgive someone else.  How can you conceive of the need to forgive somebody else when you can’t conceive of needing it yourself or worse yet being able to offer it to others.  You have to know and understand that all of us have done some things for which we need to be forgiven and it may be easier to offer it to others than it is to offer it to ourselves.  Are you hard on yourself and while you may not be the Holiest person in the world, might you not be capable of having the title of being the most unforgiveable person in the world.  How self-sacrificing to offer to someone else what you, yourself, feel that you don’t deserve.  Then and only then can you relate to the need to forgive someone else.  When it comes to forgiveness, we all need it and realizing that we ourselves need it, we realize what it means to extend that to someone else besides ourselves.

Now there is another side to the story.  Some people feel very good about offering forgiveness to others when they think that they don’t need it themselves.  It can come from a “holier than thou” attitude.  These people can’t conceive of the need to forgive themselves even though they are happy to offer it to others.  Doing this shows how much better off they are than the other people whom they need to forgive.  “Who me?”  “I don’t need to forgive myself.  The fact that I can forgive others proves that I don’t need to be forgiven myself.”

The point to this story is that we need to be able to do both, focus on things we need to forgive ourselves for and things we need to forgive others for.  The best example of this perplexing problem is someone who has been physically or sexually abused as a child and this leads to them to doing this to children themselves.  Maybe you have not done this but you have made foolish possibly even egregous mistakes in the past which might have even caused a tragedy.  If we can’t accept responsibility for what we did and then forgive ourselves, this will stand in the way of truly being able to forgive someone else for what they have done to us.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

No one is perfect or we wouldn’t be here.  Whether you believe in original sin or not.

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Guilt And How It Sidetracks Forgiveness

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

Did you ever think about how guilt sidetracks you and keeps you from forgiving yourself?  Many people have difficulty forgiving themselves if they feel guilty about something.  This can be a tremendous burden to bear and it prevents many people from letting go and moving on.  Many people feel that in order to be forgiven that the slate must be wiped clean and the alleged transaction forgotten.  If they can’t forgive themselves and forget, why should anybody else forgive them?

For some people to admit that they might have done something wrong destroys their self-esteem and makes them feel valueless.  They are their own worst critics and to say that they did something wrong can be self-destructive.  Having done a lot of psychotherapy in my life and having been in psychotherapy, the things that are the hardest to admit are the things that we can’t stop feeling guilty about.  Often therapy reaches a stumbling block when one of these issues needs to be brought up.

Sometimes people admit that they secretly are their own worst critics.  Then it follows that if they beat themselves up about something, that other people should tell them that what they did was not so bad after all.  When this isn’t true, therapy often can’t move forwards.  The pain of the self-remorse is so great that they feel that no one would ask them to take the next step forward and say that what they did, thought, or said was egregious.  They think how can anybody love me if I did that if I can’t forgive and love myself?

What is worst is that sometimes in order unconsciously to prove that what they did was not that bad, they continue to do it.  Thereby burying themselves deeper and deeper in the morass of guilt and self-blame.  Take sexual harassment for example, the person involved can’t conceive of themself as a careless cad so they don’t change their behavior.  It was just a joke or something that all girls ask for by their behavior or form of dress.  They don’t realize that the buck stops with themselves no matter who the other person is or what the other person does.  Anyway it is just their perception of the other person that they are responding to and it may actually be schewed.

There is no one here on earth (except Christ, who is here only in spirit, but not in the flesh like the rest of us) who is blameless and self-sacrificing.  Mother Teresa admitted to faults and she was always working on them.  I am sure Pope Francis would say something much the same.

The key to changing this behavior is forgiving yourself and once this is done the repetition compulsion loses it’s steam.   This also makes it easier to forgive others when you realize that in some ways you are no different from them.  In Christianity, God offers forgiveness for people’s sins but often people don’t accept it because that would involve admitting that they really did something wrong.  Forgiveness is free; accepting it is personal choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Competitive Edge

Pope Francis waves to crowds

Pope Francis waves to crowds (Photo credit: Christus Vincit)

What is the winning combination?  It has often been thought to be the competitive edge.  I may be going out on a limb here; but I think that the new Pope has it.  Humility and warmth is part of what is so attractive about him.  I don’t think that he became a Catholic priest expecting to be the Pope.  It appears that all the pomp and circumstance that go with being a Pope is not that attractive to him.  What he seems to desire most is contact with the people.  He is unselfconscious and he is more concerned about what he can do for the job than what the job can do for him.  Hallelujah!

Pope Francis does not seem to be all caught up in the trappings of office and the privileges it can bring.  If anything these benefits of office are not that attractive to him and may get in the way of what he wants to do in the job.  He realizes that the job is bigger than the man and he can not, without God’s help, live up to the expectations that go along with such a position.  He seems to realize that he has been given a great responsibility and besides from being extremely honored, he is somewhat overwhelmed at the magnitude of the job he has to do.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t thought, “Who me?” when the election results were given.

For the Catholic church hierarchy working with Pope Francis may be a humbling experience.  Just as Jesus rejected being made King, this Pope will respect the office to which he has been elected and reject being perceived as anything other than being another human being before he received his elevation to Pope.

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What Would You Do?

What would you do if every interaction was recorded and available to be replayed and examined by you at a later date.  What would you do if you knew you were going to be shown the consequences of all of your behavior to be judged by you or someone else?  What would you do if the people that came into your life each day were not just ordinary people, but were sent to test you?  What would you do if that the interactions that you were involved in each day were not as inconsequential as you believed them to be?  What if somebody was keeping score or if the people that are sent into your life were sent there for a purpose?  What would that purpose be?

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Death and Children

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the ...

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California; originally created in the 1920s for Saint Vibiana Cathedral, Los Angeles Jesus and the children, detail: Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be very careful dealing with death and children.  From many hours of play and drawing therapy, I have found that children often get some strange ideas about bad things that they  have had to face that they have not faced before as very often their frame of reference is different from adults.

For example, when talking about a family member who had died, a child thought that at the funeral, they would see a body without a head.  He or she thought that since the soul had departed, the head would be missing.

Children often do not get the whole picture and/or do not think that death is permanent.  They often only get part of what they are told or they may interrupt it differently than an adult would.

Drawings by children who have faced the death of someone they know or who are sick or injured and are facing their own death often allow the therapist to determine what is going on in the child’s mind.  Drawings by terminally ill children often show that they are aware of their own coming passing.  Those with a spiritual bent often are reassured when a child demonstrates knowledge of an afterlife or heaven and possibly  of angels, God, Jesus, or a loved person or animal that has passed on before them.

It is best when helping these children that you determine what questions they have before giving them answers they are not yet ready for or wouldn’t understand or don’t need.  It is best to fit explanations to the child’s point of view, not the adult’s.

 

 

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