Metaphorically, I could tell you a million reasons in response to as to why is it hard to forgive yourself. I am not kidding when I make this claim. Your soul signature is as unique as your fingerprint. Your reasons to not forgive yourself is as unique as your soul signature. For the simplicity of this conversation here, I will focus on three basic reasons which are generalized to give you a big picture.
The first response to why is it hard to forgive yourself is a set of twin needs
You learned things when you were little. Two things were important to you when growing up: you wanted to have fun and you needed the approval of others. Guess what you are doing right now? Either seeking approval or trying to have fun or both.
These are the twin needs that keep you going until reality strikes. Sounds harsh, I agree. And when you are not finding approval or having fun you wonder ‘what did I do wrong?’ Your thoughts are on the lines of ‘someone is upset or I messed up.’ You say to yourself ‘I should know better because I am older now.’
Because the one seeking approval and fun is still the kid younger than eight years old living within you. This kid is your inner child who struggles growing up. The child within simply wants to roll over and play. And when burdened with expectations and disappointments feels bad about playing or wanting to have fun.
So, the child punishes itself for trying to have fun and finds itself unforgiving of itself.
It’s not easy being a grown-up and dealing with old people stuff – like marriage, jobs, bills, rent/mortgage, loans, children, neighbors, parents and the list goes on and on. And when stuff shows up in your face and asks you to take a look, you blame yourself for wanting to have fun and don’t forgive yourself.
That’s the first reason in response to why is it hard to forgive yourself. You assume that everything not perfect in your life must be your fault. When you were a child, your caregivers told you that you were wrong and that you “should” be more responsible and “do” the right thing. Those older than you made you feel powerless and insinuated that you should oblige them and comply by their dictates.
You were told that you “should” be a good kid but never taught how. You had no example to follow. You did not learn to love yourself. You felt loved only when you received the approval of your elders. Maybe you were told that you were a bad kid or that you had done something bad and now needed to make it good.
Your elders had power over you. Today, your struggle is with those who you feel have power over you. It’s the same tape being repeated in different spaces and times.
So, if you ask why is it hard to forgive yourself – the answer is that you are trying to be a good person, a responsible human, and do what is right and not just focus on fun and approval.
The second answer to why is it hard to forgive yourself is another set of twins
They are your expectations and attachments. When expectations are not met and you are attached to your expectations, you feel disappointed and find it hard to forgive yourself.
In today’s urban world I would not ask you to have any expectations. But, here’s the raw truth, the greater your expectations, the higher your chances of disappointments, and the harder it is for you to forgive.
Having said that, let me reiterate that it’s okay to have expectations, but then the attachment to those expectations leads to disappointments. And when you feel you have failed yourself or someone you care about you find it hard to forgive yourself.
The question is how to forgive yourself. The first step is you have to understand what is going on. Why do things turn out the way they do. It’s not about blaming anyone or yourself. It is about using logic and reasoning. There’s no need to justify your actions or decisions from the past. You have to analyze and understand how you got to where you are.
All the logic, reasoning, and analysis are to help you realize how you managed to create your current reality that is disappointing you.
You have three minds within – the thinking mind, the feeling mind, and the survival mind.
The thinking mind tries to understand. The thinking mind can be also called the human mind also referred to as your conscious mind and even the ego-mind.
The feeling mind’s prime directive is to associate all your learnings with what you already know. The feeling mind tries to reject or accept what the thinking mind is trying to tell it. The feeling mind is the mammalian mind, also called your subconscious.
The survival mind which works at the fight-flight-freeze level can be called the reptilian mind. The survival mind doesn’t judge, understand, accept or reject. It only knows how to help you survive and live longer. It’s connected with primitive instincts like food, shelter, etc. It’s one-hundred-percent fear-driven.
When you consciously in your heart “get it”, you can easily learn from your “mistakes” and make different decisions to take different actions and get different results.
This “getting it” is called acceptance. Without self-acceptance, it is hard to find forgiveness in your heart for yourself. When acceptance occurs, forgiveness becomes easy.
So, to wrap it up, the answer to the question of why is it hard to forgive yourself is you are still seeking approval of someone bigger and somehow “better” than yourself. You feel it is wrong to have fun when there is so much that needs to get done. And finally, you were not taught self-love.
The third reason as to why it is hard to forgive yourself...
... is the lack of self-love. When you learn to love yourself you will find it easy to forgive yourself. And when you can easily forgive yourself, you will love yourself more.
Things that were okay by those whose approval you sought programmed your subconscious mind into what’s right and what’s not.
At times you do things that are pleasurable because it is right and at times you do things that are a pain but you do it because somewhere down the line you learned that it is right.
Metaphorically you will need to learn to hold your heart in your hand and learn to love it a little bit each day. Your inner child seeks only your approval. Love it, let her have fun, while you hang around protecting her emotional boundaries and also approving of her. That's the way to forgive yourself and it doesn't have to be so hard.
So, in the end, if you want to be candid and ask again why is it hard to forgive yourself - the answer is expectations, attachments, seeking approval, feeling guilty about fun, and not enough self-love.
In addition to helping her clients find forgiveness and live freely, Keya Murthy, MS, a clinical hypnotherapist and spiritual life coach, is passionate about helping heart-centered men and women to build their self-esteem, self-worth and find joy in their journey to discover a joyful, powerful, and enriching life. Signup for her newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest mental health and emotional wellness news or schedule a 20-minute consultation.