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3 little words we all struggle with

I went to the cinema this weekend.

A few years ago, an Odeon multiplex opened just off my local high street.

Six screens, including a gorgeous big Imax screen.

For someone who loves film as much as I do, this was a godsend.

So, the fact that I was at the cinema this weekend is nothing new, I’m there most weekends.

I was sat in one of the small screens. And it was packed.

Odeon have reverted to pre-Covid booking which means you can’t leave an empty seat between you and the next person when you buy your ticket.

Covid was a once in a lifetime event and a lot of the experiences we lived through will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

But an awful lot of it will, and has already started to, fade away.

A year ago, we would have thought twice about buying a ticket which would mean sitting for two hours right next to a complete stranger.

And while that may still be a thing for some people, for a lot of us it’s no longer a consideration.

That’s the way things work isn’t it?

Something that is so important, vital, crucial fades into the background and eventually disappears from our memory.

Unless we’re talking about forgiving ourselves. That self-judgement we can hold onto for decades, even lifetimes.

We hold to those careless words we threw out that have hurt someone else, even inadvertently.

All those times we disappointed someone we love with our behaviour.

We hang on doggedly to the examples our inner voice gives us to illustrate why we are such an awful person we don’t deserve to be happy.

We say horrible things to ourselves, believe that we are utterly useless, tell ourselves we’re not worthy of being loved.

We revisit every small mistake we’ve made to justify feeling this way.

Sorry is hard enough to say to someone else, even when we recognise one hundred per cent at fault.

But saying sorry to ourselves? That’s a whole different ball game.

A few months ago, my coach did an Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) session on me to help move on from some healing I was going through.

Tapping combines stimulation of acupuncture points with one or more “set-up statements” and studies have shown its effectiveness in relieving anxiety, PTSD symptoms and depression amongst other things.

One of the set-up statements my coach threw in there consisted of three little words I struggled to say.

“I forgive myself.”

The words would not come out of my mouth. I’d start to say them and get stuck.

In the end, I managed to spit them out through sheer will power.

And then spent a good couple of weeks journaling around why they were so hard and what I was struggling to forgive myself for.

When we talk about forgiving others, we see forgiveness as a release for us. The ability to free ourselves from carrying anger, hurt and frustration with us every day.

We all know that joy that comes from unshackling ourselves from wasting so much energy on holding onto an emotion that blocks our progress.

But we don’t recognise the benefits that come from forgiving ourselves.

We hold ourselves to much higher standards than we hold others to. We alone know our real reasons for our behaviour. We believe we deserve to suffer for what we did or said.

We ask forgiveness from others because we love or respect them, we value their opinion of us and we want them to think the best of us.

Isn’t it about time we treated ourselves with the same amount of love and respect?

This week, ask yourself if there’s anything you need to let go.

If so, spend a bit of time understanding what you’re not forgiving yourself for.

Come at this exercise with gentle curiosity and here’s some steps to help you release yourself:

💙 Examine if the punishment you’re giving yourself truly fits the crime.

💙 If you’re struggling to forgive yourself for a decision you’ve made, reframe the choices you had at the time and investigate if they were actually legitimate options for you.

💙 Ask yourself why you find it so hard to forgive yourself.

💙 Identify the negative effect this lack of forgiveness is having on you (overthinking, self-loathing, loss of confidence).

💙 Accept that guilt is an emotion and you are in control of releasing yourself from it.

💙 And then ask yourself for forgiveness, telling yourself all the benefits that will come from showing yourself some compassion.

Elton John may have told us that sorry is the hardest word but when it comes to our relationship with ourselves, “I forgive you” is the real killer.

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