Forgiveness for Yourself: A Ritual for Practicing Compassion and Love!

In February, our attention is often pulled to thoughts of love and romance, including heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, candlelit dinners, and dozens of roses from a partner who adores us. But while romantic relationships can make our hearts beat a wild tango (and are a delightful facet of our human existence!) here’s what I know to be true: 

You can only love another to the extent you love yourself. 

And self-love is rooted in self-forgiveness. Generosity of the heart, reverence, respect, and empathy for all living things bring you profound power to live a life of happiness and contentment. And that includes generosity, empathy, and compassion for yourself! 

Contentment Arises from Compassion

When someone else hurts us, we naturally create emotional distance. We want to protect ourselves from future hurts by keeping our guard up, not getting too close for fear we’ll be hurt again. Add on the weight of unresolved anger and resentment, and it’s not surprising that you feel disconnected from another.

The same is true for our relationship with ourselves. When we judge ourselves harshly or hold onto resentments, we create a disconnect within our soul. We cannot reject a portion of ourselves and still live at peace with others. 

Look at the world around us right now. It is so easy to see how the lack of forgiveness feeds the turmoil and suffering as cycles of hurts and resentment play out in what seems like a never-ending spiral.  

Now imagine the same divisiveness within your own heart. By keeping your self-directed resentment, and shame alive, you’re restricting your ability to feel, give, and accept love. 

There is no room in the sacred vessel of your heart for compassion and love if it is full of anger and shame!

Forgiveness is the key to freedom and peace . . . and it starts with you.

Why Compassion for Yourself Will Release You

Many of us have spent our lives collecting hurts and grievances — and the longest list is often those we ourselves have committed! Even when we’re open-hearted to those who have wronged us and move quickly to excuse and forgive them, we can be absolute ogres to ourselves. 

We keep a running tally of all our flaws and mistakes:

The people we’ve hurt. 

The mistakes we’ve made. 

The trust we’ve broken…

And if you’re swimming in that pond already you may think everything is your fault so you may lack discernment when it comes to others who project their resentments on to you. This can get very sticky and compounds into an unnecessary burden for you to feel even worse. 

Trust me, as a recovering addict, it’s easy to create a long list of missteps I’ve made! 

It is an important part of our journey to review our mistakes and make amends where possible and to avoid taking on what others project. This is why it’s so important to know what is yours to work through with rigorous self honesty and then release the feelings of judgment, shame, which at their core are low self worth and esteem. 

Resentment and anger are emotions that actually bind you and hook you to the events that cause your suffering, keeping them alive inside you, draining you of your life force and inner light. Peace can only come through forgiveness, when you release all that binds you to negativity. 

You’re not ignoring the hurts you caused or received. You’re honoring them, receiving their message, and releasing them so you can continue your sacred journey towards wholeness. Forgiveness is about restoration, making whole that which has been broken. 

And when you are restored and at peace with yourself, you can be at peace with others!

 

How to Forgive Yourself

Now you might be saying, “Colette, that sounds amazing. But HOW do I forgive myself?” 

In my experience nothing changes without self honesty. Self forgiveness must begin with an inventory. This is your way to be accountable to the shift you are trying to make. First admit this is yours to heal. Take your time with this and remember Love is the only answer. 

Journaling can be an incredibly healing sacred practice for self-forgiveness. Here are some questions to guide your journaling practice:

    1. What do I resent myself for? Write a list that includes situations, past traumas, judgments, areas where you feel you aren’t enough, etc.
    2. Does it feel good to feel resentful or angry at myself? (Note: I know that may sound like an unusual question, but I want to encourage you to evaluate if the energy you exert to be resentful outweighs the benefits of the resentment.)
  • If resentment doesn’t make me feel good or free or joyful, how would I rather feel?
  • How would I feel if I were able to set down some of this self-recrimination and guilt? 

Self-Forgiveness Ritual

Now, here’s a simple self-forgiveness ritual you can practice to lay down the heavy burdens of guilt, shame, and self-recrimination so you can experience wholeness, freedom and love.

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit with your feet on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing your body to relax.
  3. When ready, allow your mind to return to something in your past about which you are still feeling shame or guilt. Don’t try to force it; just let it gently come into your consciousness. Perhaps you will see it appear on the screen of your mind, or maybe you will hear voices, or feel sensations. Don’t judge what you are experiencing; simply note it and continue to breathe deeply.
  4. If you note tension in your body, imagine a warm beam of light traveling from the crown of your head to the affected area. When the light arrives to the point of tightness, imagine warmth and healing energy penetrating this area with a golden glow.
  5. Now, take five deep inhales and exhales. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I accept forgiveness.” On your exhale, say, “I release all anger and negativity.” If you feel resistance, don’t fight it. Again, simply notice the sensation and continue to breathe.
  6. If you feel moved to do so, repeat this exercise with another memory of something you’re holding onto and judging yourself for.
  7. When you feel complete, take three more deep breaths, and then open your eyes.

You can repeat this ritual of self-love as often as you like. 

Be gentle with yourself; you may be surprised to discover all the areas you’ve been holding anger or guilt! Remember, this is a practice, something you can return to again and again. Over time, you’ll sense that you’ve set down the heavy burdens of shame and self-judgment.   

We practice self-forgiveness so that we can be active parts of spreading peace and beauty. Self-forgiveness, self-compassion, self honesty and self-love lead to integration and wholeness. When we restore our relationship with ourselves, we can be emissaries of love, peace, and compassion to the world. 

Love’s greatest creative power is ignited by the conscious action of compassion. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself; allow yourself to forgive YOU, just as much as another.

 

 

 

 

Showing 28 comments
  • Patricia Stevens
    Reply

    Colette, this is beautiful. As a practitioner of the 12 Steps, I will incorporate this ritual into my own step-work practice and into my work with others. Thank you.

  • Shirley Ayers
    Reply

    Inspirational and true messages

    • Anjali Devi Bhagan
      Reply

      So beautiful. I feel peace entering my heart just by reading it❤️🙏

  • Colette Vosberg
    Reply

    Thank you Colette. I have done a lot of work on myself to self-forgive. While reading your blog today, I wondered where am I now with this work and then you provided the exercise and that will give me the answer.

    • Kathleen Urquhart
      Reply

      Brilliant and profound as always, dear friend. 😊💞

  • Mary Jane Benoit
    Reply

    I was not aware I needed to forgive myself . It has made a huge difference in the release of tension in my back. Thank you! I will do this again as it has not all gone away.

  • Ruzica Howell
    Reply

    Colette, I just finished speaking with my physician and her words were: are you practising self-compassion. The timing of this article and speaking with her has grounded me. Thank you.

  • Barbara
    Reply

    Hi Colette. Thank you for this email. Colette I need you help I am no well and I would like to know if you can sense if my illness is life threatening or not. I need help please. I am unemployed at the moment and would love to pay you for your advice but I am not warning a cent at the moment an I am unemployed. Can you please help me with this query regarding my health. Thank you in advance for your help. Kind regards Barbara

    • Colette Baron-Reid
      Reply

      I am sorry but I don’t have the skill to sense this. I suggest a medical intuitive and of course medical advice. It is unethical for me to provide and answer, I am so sorry

  • Ginger Rast
    Reply

    This is Wonderful
    Self forgiveness has been so hard to figure out…
    I love the ritual
    Thank YOU

  • Barb Madlon
    Reply

    Colette, thank you for sharing this right at a crucial time for me.

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Thank you Colette for sharing. Appreciated

  • Terry Broadworth
    Reply

    Always, a timely message from you, ♥️ Thank you for the Journaling and Vision Board coaching…Whoo Hoo to the Woo Woo, as we all walk into 2021…

  • Mary
    Reply

    Wow couldn’t of come at a better time,I feel stuck since a few days,literally doing nothing but sleep,strange dreams,no ability to put in place any actions that I know need to be done.
    Maybe I need to start getting rid of the guilt.
    Well feel better already.
    Sending lots of love.mary

  • Colleen Richards
    Reply

    Thank you Colette, I have been in your shoes, 20 years clean and sober, and wasn’t a very good person, I still work the steps, but not like I should. After watching your videos, I have come to realize I need to self care more and redo my steps. Thank you for these Journal questions and the Ritual, it is what will restart my life <3

  • Patty
    Reply

    Hi Colette. Forgiving myself is pretty easy for me. But forgiving others has not ever been possible. I know the anger or hurt I carry around for those people is not good for me. The stress it causes me when I think of them is pretty intense. But my life is so much better by walking away from them and removing them from my life. I’m proud of myself for doing that finally. Love you Colette 💕

  • Tracy
    Reply

    I am almost lost for words at the moment…. Colette you just can’t make this **** up. I have quite a bit of work to do and just when I need a bit of direction bam there it is.
    Thankyou

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    What a lovely exercise to do. Thank you!

  • Faith Oglesby
    Reply

    So beautiful and spot on, Colette! Feelings of healing emerging as I do the breath meditation and read the blog. More valuable lessons of how to accept myself so I am in turn able to love myself and love others without hesitation.

  • Radha
    Reply

    Beautiful

  • Stephanie Martinez
    Reply

    Collette this is awesome. I was talking to a friend from 37 years ago last night. We hadn’t talked in 20+ years due to her addiction and being thousands of miles apart. She was telling me all that your talking about here. I tried being my Divine emissary telling her about self forgiveness and how I practice it.
    Now I can send this to her.
    Thank you for all you do Colette.

  • Renee Sugar
    Reply

    Thank you for this topic Colette;
    ” G- d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
    The Serenity prayer is a wonderful tool to practice frequently. When we shift our beliefs, change our minds/ attitudes we open the door to creating a new perspective. I love the quote ” We don’t step into the same place in the river twice.” If I made a decision at a certain level of awareness/ consciousness
    I am not the same person I was at age 19. Therefore the rigid standards that led to judging myself and my actions/ behaviour are outmoded. It is necessary to examine/rewrite the script. I can make a different choice today.
    I am still loved unconditionally being human, imperfect and missing the mark.

  • Heather Halford
    Reply

    Forgiveness of self and others seems to be a difficult concept for a lot of people to grasp. We often think it means condoning the behaviour etc. Or some act is UNFORGIVABLE. You often use the old adage “drinking poison and hoping someone else dies.” Then how can you restore self esteem and self worth without forgiveness first? It’s an exercise in futility and without that strong foundation you keep tipping over and trying to rebuild on a faulty one. Very tiresome.

    Well I came across a definition of forgiveness that has already helped some of my friends and family members and especially my oldest daughter.

    First remember that just like you and I everyone of us was born perfect and most of the time what happened after that to change us seemed out of our control.

    The definition of forgiveness for me is “REFUSE TO CONTINUE TO PUNISH”.

    It says nothing about condoning, accepting, defending or even trying to understand that behaviour. Just “refuse to continue to punish” ourselves and others.

    As always I very much enjoy your blogs and card readings and send infinite love and gratitude for you and the information you open us up to receive.

    • Colette Baron-Reid
      Reply

      I love this and so true. Thank you for sharing

    • Émilie Dardenne
      Reply

      Thank you Colette. I have so much to forgive myself. I’m 71 and was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 60. Since I’ve been under medication my life has changed for the better. Before I had an erratic and at times awful and unkind behavior. This not who the real me is. Now I’m suffering from so much guilt. There are so many events. Every time I recall one I feel like a stab in the heart. It’s going to be a long process.

  • Penny
    Reply

    Divine timing on this one! Thank You Colette and Many Blessings to You.

  • Kerrie
    Reply

    This is an amazing exercise. My list is long and as I write I am thinking of more things I could add to it. I have done the ritual on a couple already and it feels enlightening to release this burden. Thank you Colette for your insight and selfless giving.

  • ANDREA JONES
    Reply

    The timing for me to read this article is perfect! I have been sad these past few days (not my normal) and have been searching for the reason why. I asked the oracle (Wisdom of the Oracle) very early this morning for some insight as to why I was feeling so sad. The Oracle’s answer: Community. WOW! I am searching for “my” community, a place that I can feel like I belong and call “home”! And part of that searching is to go back into my past and forgive myself and others where I felt like I didn’t belong! Thank you for the confirmation! Sending huge hugs to you!

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