The Cure for Self Loathing? Self-Forgiveness
Everything was running smoothly. Her manager had allowed her to be leaving work one hour earlier so as to beat the evening traffic.
Her pay remained intact though, giving Mary a sure reason to be glad. Her granny was nonetheless becoming more frail.
The doctors prescribed more supplements to take care of her low appetite.
Still, there was no improvement and Mary was getting concerned.
Then one day it suddenly happened.
She had given her some medication then rushed to the nearby store to shop for their supper.
She was only going to be away for around 15 minutes.
By the time she came back, her house was burning as her neighbors tried putting out the fire.
According to reports, an explosion was heard from her house before the fire became visible.
Not only had she lost her personal belongings, she had also lost her granny.
Her two siblings, Nancy and Shawn, blamed her for negligence.
According to them, if she had been there, she could have saved their grandmother.
She was all they had for a parent after the death of both their father and mother.
As a result, Mary became the recipient of many negative words. Her siblings told her that she was cold-hearted and only cared about her stomach. Was it a wonder then that she was fat? Mary then started questioning her own motives.
How could she leave a sick old woman alone in a small house which didn’t even have good ventilation? Couldn’t she have gone to the store with her? Or asked a friend or neighbor to check on her?
Clearly, she had no love in her heart.
Not even for the sick, the old, the needy.
Hadn’t she initially rejected the idea of hosting her granny claiming that her house was too small?
Seclusion became her way of avoiding the feeling of guilt before her siblings. She didn’t even attend the burial.
She was slowly developing a hatred for herself and thought of how much of a bad person she was. To Nancy and Shawn, this was a sign of guilt.
Unknown to them, Mary was hurting and slowly disintegrating on the inside.
She was also losing friends because she was becoming unavailable.
This happened during her first employment.
With no family of her own, she has lived alone ever since.
Thirty years have gone by and the cords of self-loathing seem to be strengthening by the day. Moving through 10 different jobs in 5 different career fields, her life has been anything but productive.
She has always witnessed less-qualified colleagues getting promotions and recognition.
Whenever there was a project coming up, she would not be included in the team.
For this reason, she further believed that she was not good for anything.
But just how did things get to this level?
HOW SELF-LOATHING DEVELOPED
Mary had become so guilty that her friends could not convince her that it was a mistake.
She got two months paid leave from her employer but that didn’t help much. Could it be that the reason is she never went for counseling? That aside, there is something else she actively did.
Self-reflection is something we can all utilize.
It is supposed to be for our benefit.
Seeing mistakes done in the past, it should then be easier to make better choices for the days ahead.
This, like any other tool, is in your hands. You can do with it what you think best.
For Mary, she reflected and saw nothing but the wrong she had done. She had sinned before both man and God.
How was she ever going to correct this? Could she correct it?
After 5 years of silence, Nancy and Shawn reached out to her and showed her the love she craved for.
They talked, visited, spent Sunday afternoons together and assured her that they were hoping to put the past behind them. They also apologized for blaming her for the death of their grandmother.
Mary had by now become accustomed to a cold world.
The warmth of their love seemed like nothing but a mirage. It was simply not real.
With her friends and now family unable to motivate her back to life, the damage continued.
Her own thoughts and convictions about what happened. This affected her work performance and four months after resuming her duties, she was fired.
Eager to continue practicing law, she joined another law firm but only practiced for two years. Many clients had lost big business due to bad advice received from Mary.
She had to leave.
Cycling through other career options, the results were basically the same.
Mary had experienced a real situation but believed a lie about certain aspects of it.
Whereas she had agreed to live with her grandmother, she did not intentionally kill her.
The fire that broke out in her house was not her doing in any way. It was just an electric fault which happened at a time when no-one was near enough to do much.
Unfortunately, she sees it differently and attempts to convince her otherwise have been futile.
Such is how self-loathing develops.
You will always have a situation in the past which you did not handle very well.
In some cases, it may be your full responsibility while in others, it may be something beyond your control.
The most important question in all such cases is, how do you respond?
It is good to take responsibility for the wrongs that happen in our areas of influence. It is equally necessary to be realistic about the kind and amount of blame you take upon yourself.
THE BASIS OF SELF-LOATHING
There are two very powerful forces inside you.
Actually, they are the most powerful of all. Every other force you have borrows or grows from these two.
These are Love and Hate.
Sometimes referred to as drives, they greatly influence your thoughts, words and actions.
Since as a human you are a social being, your interaction with people is what will manifest this influence.
Note that people also includes you. Focusing on you, the question then begs, how do you interact with yourself? Do you see the effects of love or hate?
Related to these two forces are two powerful states.
The states of either being True of False.
For example, your thoughts about something could be true or false.
If true, your thoughts will be different from when those thoughts are from lies. Incorporating these into our context, it means that the truth determines whether you show love or hate to someone.
This someone could be anyone, including you.
If you hate yourself, then you are said to be self-loathing. This hatred is determined by either a truth or lie which exists deep inside you. It turns out that lies are more likely to cause hatred than truth.
If you give lies a closer look, you will realize that they are attempts to hide the truth.
The truth on the other hand comes to either expose the lie or to simply state the correct position.
Lies really hurt.
Who wants to be lied to, especially about important things in life?
This is why many people naturally hate liars. Liars can cause you great pain. Because you don’t want pain in your heart, you will dislike and even hate them so as to stay safe.
If you then hate those who lie to you, what happens when you lie to yourself? Will you end up hating yourself?
Yet the term ‘self-loathing’ exists to describe those who hate themselves.
The challenge here is distinguishing between the apparent two people inside you: the liar and the recipient of the lie.
First picture yourself as the victim, because you really are one.
You have lied to yourself.
What is the outcome? How has the lie affected you?
Now picture yourself as the liar. What is the outcome?
You will realize that because these two people, the liar and the victim are one person, the answers converge somewhere.
The question ‘What is the outcome?’ gives the same answer in both cases. You have hurt and lost a lot.
From opportunities to friends, you have lost many things. Your life has become miserable with no joy at all. All this has come from you and is affecting you.
From believing the lie you told yourself, you will always see yourself as a bad person. Even worthless. Even when you are given physical evidence to show your importance, you will still reject it.
People around you may see good things in you while you don’t. With time, they will stop telling you these good things after noticing that you don’t embrace their appreciation.
And why don’t you embrace it?
Because you don’t believe it.
You have believed that you are such a bad person that nothing good can come from you.
Therefore, whatever good people are telling you is just a lie.
Maybe they are just trying to get you to think otherwise. Maybe they are even trying to fool you.
If you hate yourself because of something you did, you need to find out the truth about the situation.
From this article, you will understand how self-loathing comes about. You will also learn how to be free from it through self-forgiveness.
To start you off, here’s a video to introduce you to self-forgiveness.
There are three questions you will have to ask yourself:
- What exactly happened?
- To what extent were you responsible?
- From whose perspective are you looking at the situation?
Having decided that we are interested in the truth and not lie, we have to know what exactly happened.
It is obvious that you were not born with self-loathing. This is something you developed while growing up.
From that one act of transgression, you saw yourself as a very evil person. This is still the same view you hold. When finding out the truth, you will have to be honest with yourself.
Do not try to go through these questions quickly otherwise you will lose out on its benefit. Your mind already has answers and those are what it will first present.
You however need to think through other possible answers so as to ascertain which ones are true. Just purpose to slowly go back in history and retrieve the records of what took place.
What Exactly Happened?
From our story, a replay of Mary’s past reveals a few things helpful in exposing the lie she unknowingly believed.
- Mary is hospitable – of the three children, Mary agreed to make room and time for her ailing grandmother. This is despite having the smallest house and having a challenging career. Both Nancy and Shawn used the reason (or is it excuse?) of having families to avoid the extra responsibility.
- Mary is caring – she secured extra time from work to look after her granny. On the fateful day, she opted to first rush home to see how granny was. It is only after administering the medication and confirming that all was well that she went shopping. This shopping was strictly for their supper and she was determined not to spend more than 15 minutes.
- Mary is responsible – she did not argue about the death but showed remorse and took responsibility for the mistake which had happened.
With those three truths clear, let’s look at the lies which came up.
- Mary is negligent – this is proven not to be true by the fact that she had first rushed home instead of shopping first. It is only after ensuring that everything was fine that she went to the store.
- Mary is selfish and was only shopping for herself – this was given as the reason she was fat (an accusation that she loved eating). Mary wasn’t shopping for her personal needs but for their supper.
- Mary is not hospitable – she had not objected to host her granny but simply pointed out better living conditions at her siblings’ homes. In any case, it was finally decided that she hosts her and she agreed. Additionally, she had taken good care of her. She bought organic food, cooked it herself, ensured supplements were available and gave her the medication herself. All this with nobody’s help. Just occasional visits by her brother and sister.
These lies are what Mary believed.
Whenever she made a mistake at work, she would remember the mistake of leaving her granny alone.
That caused her to be afraid of what could result from the mistake.
This caused her to be too self-conscious and ever ready to avoid making mistakes.
She therefore ended up avoiding many activities and tasks.
She had nothing to show while her colleagues had conquered many challenges. Would she then blame her manager for promoting them instead of her?
The lies bred fear and fear rendered her unproductive. Fear is crippling if not addressed. At the onset, it can be helpful in keeping you safe. If not mastered though, it will guarantee your stagnation in life.
To What Extent Were You Responsible?
There was an incident which took place and you were involved. But to what extent were you involved?
The answer to this question will help you see the borders between your responsibility and other causes of the incident. If you have gotten to self-loathing, it means that you have assumed more than your share of responsibility.
Still using our story, Mary’s responsibility went only as far as leaving her granny alone.
Realistically speaking, how much could she have done were both inside the house when the fire broke out?
The fire consumed almost everything she had. Her suitcases were destroyed as well as furniture. All this within minutes. Isn’t there a possibility she could have been caught up in the fire too?
Had it been a gas cylinder explosion, maybe she could have been held responsible. As it is, Mary did what was reasonably right in first caring for her grandmother then heading for the stores.
This means that the ultimate cause of death had nothing to do with Mary. With this truth, anything contrary should simply be rejected.
Attempts by others or certain thoughts to cast more blame on Mary should be identified as lies.
We have seen that lies hurt.
Believing lies about yourself makes you see yourself in bad light.
Since it is not a good thing to be bad, you attempt to hide it. You then become afraid of it showing and that is when you become crippled by fear.
Check the incident you were involved in and do a keen replay of the events. Take time to question the conclusions reached as a result of what was said, seen or believed.
There is always someone or something that pushes forth an idea. Just as it happens in criminal investigations, there is what people will say.
This is called speculation.
The authorities will always advise for people to allow investigations into the matter.
How many times have investigations proven speculators wrong? Yet they will still exist.
For the truth to come out, patience is of essence. A thorough job has to be done.
Do not rush yourself through this process of questioning. You need the truth so as to see why you should not be hating yourself at all.
By the end of this process, you will realize that you allowed lies to run your life.
Then, you can work on the solution.
This article will show you that you can still make a difference in your life. This is regardless of the stage of life you are in.
There is always room for improvement.
From Whose Perspective Are You Looking at the Situation?
You have hated yourself enough, it’s time you changed your perspective.
Why do you need to do that?
You have personally experienced the effects of seeing yourself as the villain. The first two questions have no doubt shattered some lies you believed to be truths. You now need to start seeing things from the angle of ‘what if all the things I believed have been lies?’
Activate your imagination. Bring out your creativity. What if you were never really responsible for that incident? What if you are so much better than has been known by others? What if you are yet to bring out your best?
You know where your responsibility in that incident lied. You know that the extended responsibility was really nothing but a way of explaining things no one understood. You now know that they were wrong all this time.
Their definition of you has all along been wrong.
More importantly, having believed it, your definition of yourself has all along been wrong.
You are only as good as you see yourself. You have so much in you but have never seen.
All because it was clouded by lies. Lies that spoke so loudly that the truth became inaudible.
Look at life from a new lens and discover the goodness in you. The reason humans cannot live alone is because we have different strengths and capacities.
You need to know your strengths and capacities.
But how do you do this?
Now that you have the truth figured out, you should forgive yourself and let go of the past.
This is the past that has held you hostage for a very long time. You need to recognize that holding onto that past is limiting you life.
You have an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate yourself for the rest of your life.
Just as being forgiven by someone gives a great relief, so does forgiving yourself.
Guilt causes shame and fear.
That is why the guilty always want to run or hide.
Forgiveness brings freedom.
If forgiven, you become free and fear no longer holds any power over you. You now have the key to that freedom in your hand.
Will you accept the offer for freedom?
Self-forgiveness is easy, as long as you have decided you want it. Take time and think about some of the benefits.
Internal peace – with self-loathing, there is always a battle raging inside you. This is a cruel battle you wage against yourself. It is a fatal battle and the casualty is only one—you. When you forgive yourself, it is like a ceasefire, only that this is permanent. Ceasefires bring a lot of relief to the victims of wars since they get to pick up their lives with no fear of harm or death.
Forgiving yourself is being at peace with yourself. You will finally be free from being stressed by thoughts of evil towards yourself. Whenever you have a grudge, a lot of positive feelings get lost. Your mind constantly thinks of the wrong done to you and seeks ways of revenging it.
After forgiveness though, your mind will be free to think of ways to improve your life. You are more likely to achieve your goals with a peaceful mind. Where peace lacks, confusion reigns. don’t expect any progress while operating in confusion.
Fresh outlook of life – forgiving yourself will give you a new and fresh view of life. The freedom that self-forgiveness provides ushers you into a new life. You will start seeing things like you have never seen them before. You will develop perspectives which you never had. This will be evident of the kind of life you can have. If you have ever listened to successful people speak, then you have noticed that they see things differently.
Renewed joy – when you know that nothing is holding you back, you can’t help but be happy. It gets better when the person you are happy with is yourself. When you are happy with yourself, your confidence levels shoot up. Happy people don’t allow their joy to be ‘stolen’ by anything. Having lacked joy, getting it will bring a major difference. It will be one of the things you will hold onto dearly.
Rediscover yourself – one of the most important things in life is to know yourself. This is important because you get to know what you can and should do. Without this knowledge, you can waste a lot of time trying your hand in various things and not succeeding. With no self-loathing thoughts, your mind will direct you in the right paths of opportunities.
With self-discovery, ensure you check your real strengths and weaknesses. Take care not to believe lies which will only serve to limit your progress.
A list of benefits cannot be exhausted. The idea is to show you that there is a lot to be gained. For example, self-forgiveness brings joy. This joy further brings higher self-confidence. Self-confidence empowers you through challenges. The benefits have a ripple effect, cascading from one to another.
While going through the self-forgiveness process, ensure you don’t rush through it. You would rather go about it slowly but well rather than quickly and fail to get the results.
It is ok to feel doubts as to whether you have really forgiven yourself. You will all the same have forgiven yourself if you follow these simple steps.
Without forgiveness and love, you will live with resentment, bitterness, malice and strife which result in more pain. You can never love without forgiving. Forgiveness deepens your ability to love and frees you from pain. – Kemi Sogunle
Acknowledge the Wrong that Happened
Forgiveness is sought when something wrong has been done.
Many times when faced by the reality of something wrong done, the natural tendency is to hide. You may have practiced denial as you tried to deny that you did something wrong.
Since you have done this many times, it may come up as the easier way of handling things. As we have seen however, the best way is to deal with the root cause.
Having gone through the past and seen what happened and how things came to be, move forward in the truth. If there are several wrongs, despite how big they look, recognize them all.
List them down for the sake of clarity.
You played a role in the wrong which happened. Whether in whole or in part, admit where you were wrong. In case you get emotional and start crying, pause and cry all you can.
Your emotions are tied to your past and they need to be freed. This is the pressure that should be let out. Restraining yourself may result in real freedom not being achieved.
Remember and utilize the truth which you discovered earlier.
Having recognized the truth of your responsibility, you can stay clear of other accusations coming up in your mind.
Remember that you previously believed many lies and ended up suffering for it.
Therefore, do not allow any lies to creep into your mind. There should be room only for the truth.
Admit that You Have Wronged Yourself
You have admitted that the wrong happened. You have then taken responsibility for your contribution to the wrong.
Now it is time to admit that you have not been kind to yourself.
You see, you had allowed yourself to slide into a world of negativity about yourself. You have called yourself bad names and even denied yourself love.
As you have already found out, it is because you believed some lies. Lies about yourself and about your contribution to what happened.
Believing those lies, you then wrongly accused yourself of many wrongs and rendered the wrong verdict on yourself. You convicted yourself whereas you should have freed yourself.
As a result, you denied yourself love and also denied others the opportunity to show you love. You have therefore been the victim of your own prejudice.
Apologize to Yourself
Just as you would apologize to someone else, apologize to yourself. Tell yourself sorry.
Identify with the feelings that the wrong treatment to yourself have evoked. If a part of you feels angry, allow it to express itself. Afterwards, apologize to it to make peace inside you.
This is the primary reason you are forgiving yourself: making peace with yourself.
Do not hold back any emotions that may engulf you. You are free to express yourself in the way you feel as long as you stay safe. You may need to choose a private place for this self-reconciliation exercise.
Part of your safety is taking care not to embarrass yourself. This is especially when you are just starting the healing process.
As you apologize to yourself, you should be feeling lighter. You should be feeling the heaviness in your heart ease. Some peace should be coming in as well.
This is a good sign.
Do not be in a hurry.
If you notice something you had not seen before, just check it out. Find out the truth about it then follow the same procedure.
Remember to stay safe. If you have ever haboured suicidal thoughts and they never cleared, please get help from a counselor first.
When you wrong someone and then apologize, you eagerly wait to hear the words ‘I have forgiven you.’ This is what frees you of the burden caused by your guilt and shame. You will apply the same principle at this stage.
With a lighter heart which has some peace and joy, tell yourself that you are now a free soul. Visualize yourself as a previously-trapped bird which has now been set free. Or an antelope captured by a leopard but managed to escape. Such a bird or antelope flies/runs away without looking back. It’s joy cannot be hidden.
Imagine the things you have always wanted to do but felt inadequate. Tell yourself that they are possible. You may not immediately know how to achieve them. All the same, just being free is enough motivation towards them.
You have moved from bondage to its opposite, freedom. Now move from hatred to its opposite, love. If you have lived for many years hating yourself, you may not even remember or know what love is.
As you go through the suggestions below, just keep one thing in mind.
Love means that you appreciate who you are and what you have. If you make any mistake, don’t crucify yourself.
Watch the below video to start you off on the journey to loving yourself. After that, read on for ways of doing it.
Here are the ways to love yourself.
Know Your Strengths
Everyone has strengths and these are what make people stand out. No matter how much time you think you have lost, you still have time for a turn around.
Here are some questions to help you out with this:
- What do you do without struggling?
- What are you often helping people with?
- Which subjects did you excel in while in school?
- What do you love doing and rarely get tired while at it?
Answering these questions will help you know that you are good at something. Appreciate yourself for what you have because these make you unique.
Even if there are others with similar strengths, your combination of these distinguishes you from them.
This is what one very successful king of ancient Israel realized.
He couldn’t hold back but testify that God had created him wonderfully.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; – Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
When you start looking at your strengths as unique, you will have many reasons to be glad that you are free. Free to exercise your strengths to bring yourself joy, make profit, help the society etc.
Get in Touch with Your Hobbies
Among the reasons you are in this world, is so that you can enjoy what is around you.
There are songs which have been sung waiting to be danced to; movies shot waiting to be watched; plays acted waiting to be watched; games waiting to be played; books awaiting reading etc. There are very many recreational activities. Identify your pick and engage in it.
Another reason your hobbies are important is that they help you become social. As someone who had been mostly alone, you need to get friends around you.
Having friends will help take your mind from the past faster than when you are alone.
When for example you have a game to play tomorrow, you may spend time today practising.
This keeps your mind busy and gives it something new to digest instead of the past.
Don’t Be Too Serious
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. – Elbert Hubbard
No matter what you pursue in life, you need to take breaks.
Do not always look at things from a serious point of view. If you do, you will not find much to be grateful about. When you ease up and allow yourself to be amused by life, you will enjoy life more.
You cannot say that you love yourself if you never give yourself treats. Take some time and just do something good for yourself. Find a reason to celebrate yourself.
Have you done a task well? Did you finish it ahead of the deadline? Were you the best among your friends? Have you finally achieved a goal after much trying?
Do not let those moments pass you by. By the way, regardless of what you have heard out there, it is never about the price. It is always about the thought.
Obviously, the higher the price the more valuable it looks and feels. However, it does not always have to be expensive.
Many are the times when appreciation has been deferred in search of expensive. You do not need to save a fortune to go on holiday. Make some popcorn, grab your TV remote and watch your favorite show.
You are well on your recovery path now and have changed allegiances. From being your enemy to your friend. Occasionally, you may get an old thought coming back into your mind reminding you of your past. Sometimes, it may even question your freedom.
Just take that thought as a real person and tell it off as you would an enemy. Speak out loud if it persists. Reject what it says and counter it with the truth.
Remember that you had been in bondage due to believing in lies. You were then able to discover the truth which led you to freedom. Hold onto those life-changing truths as your weapons for maintaining your freedom.
Enjoy your freedom.
Share your thoughts in the comments.
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