Most of us have grown up hearing the Scripture “Love your neighbor as yourself.” While the majority of people have been taught to put the emphasis on how we should treat others, the last two words seem to be often omitted from the whole concept. One big question is what happens if we treat others the same way we treat ourselves but do not like ourselves.
Lots of problems could develop if we don’t treat ourselves very nicely. If we are full of bitterness, jealousy, resentment or lack confidence, this attitude is what others see and feel when they are around us. We need to love ourselves as God loves us.
The same concept is true when we look at the subject of forgiveness and see it as a two-way street. For too many people, the hardest person to forgive is one’s self. Our society is really super good at putting guilt trips on us. For children, shame is one of the most destructive emotions according to psychologists. Children who live in positive, caring environments have a better chance of feeling good about themselves as they mature. Adults who heard a lot of criticism in the absence of unconditional love have a more difficult time with acceptance and forgiveness. They have a harder time accepting an apology from others and believing that God can truly love them for who they are.
Scriptures speak of God’s willingness to forgive us. Therefore, it is paramount for us to learn to accept His forgiveness and to forgive ourselves. Since we are human, we are bound to make a number of mistakes. One thing each person can do is to process his/her thoughts and actions in order to learn something from the experiences. There are a number of actions one can chose to take that can help develop the inner peace and freedom from past hurts. Learning to forgive yourself is a first step.
In next month’s article, I will share a number of ideas on how one can learn to forgive his or her self.