Let go of the guilt

Let go of the guilt, forgive yourself

“Our guilt may be due to personal standards that we have set for ourselves.” – Dada JP Vaswani
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Many of us carry on our hearts, heavy loads of guilt, which rob us of our peace of mind. No man is perfect. Every one of us has done some wrongs in the past, near or remote. We must repent and, if possible, make amends. We must pray for wisdom and strength not to repeat the wrong and then forget about it.

Many of us find it easy to forgive others but find it impossible to forgive ourselves. The Roman philosopher Cato, admits this when he says, “I can pardon everybody’s mistakes except my own.”

Yet, learning to forgive oneself is one of the basic steps of cultivating the spirit of forgiveness for all. After all, if you cannot forgive yourself, how will you forgive others?

Forgiving oneself is essential for self-acceptance.

This does not mean that we give up our moral or ethical standards and justify all our actions, both right and wrong. It only means that we learn to accept ourselves as we are, with our many shortcomings and a few merits.

For some reason, people persist in being harsh and unforgiving with themselves. They become inflexible and judgemental. I know a man who carried a lifelong sense of guilt because he could not become a doctor—something that his parents wanted him to do. Many mothers refuse to forgive themselves when their children do not turn out right. Wives blame themselves when a marriage breaks down…it is strange, but our acceptance of ourselves seems to depend on others’ acceptance of us!

Our guilt may be due to personal standards that we have set for ourselves, as in the above cases. Or, they may be due to ethical reasons for having done something that is wrong. In either case, self-forgiveness is essential.

As we said earlier, self-forgiveness does not imply condoning wrong behaviour. Nor does it mean that you do not feel repentance for your past actions. Accepting this repentance, feeling remorse is part of the healing process. But you must not let the remorse persist, as a permanent burden on your life. It is essential to overcome remorse, come to terms with your past and move on to face the future.

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