“We have to realize it's not them who you're giving your forgiveness to. Forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves.”
We are all carrying some level of guilt, shame, or regret. We’ve all done things that aren’t in alignment with our values, or that we’d do differently now if given the opportunity.
We also carry some degree of hurt, anger, or resentment toward people who we believe wronged us.
What would life be like to live completely free from ALL this emotional turmoil? How can we release ourselves from the weight of those experiences that cause us pain? What can we do to stop reopening old wounds and triggering past traumas?
Today’s episode is all about forgiveness. It’s about forgiving yourself for the mistakes you’ve made in your own life, as well as for the hurt other people have caused you. In this conversation, I want to show you what it means to truly be forgiving, dissolve the emotional links holding you back, and face the world with a cleaner slate than ever before.
- Why our past traumas can so easily haunt us, trigger us, and make us viscerally uncomfortable for years or even decades.
- Why forgiveness is something we do for ourselves–not something that other people give us.
- What makes regret a powerful teaching tool–and the benefits of making mistakes.
- Why beating yourself up over things you’ve done in the past is all but valueless.
- How to unlock the transcendent power of unconditional forgiveness.
- Simple steps you can take right now to begin forgiving yourself.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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Hal Elrod: Hello, my friend. It's Hal. I'm so glad you are here. And, you know, I recently had somewhat of a breakthrough realization about how I personally can let go of unhealthy and destructive guilt and shame and regret forever. And I find that we all or most of us carry some level of guilt or shame or regret from our past based on the mistakes that we've made, things we've said or done that we regret. It's not in alignment with our values. If we could go back and do it again, we would do it differently. And so, we have these feelings towards ourselves, these unhealthy feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. If you've ever read any of David Hawkins' work, his book most popular for what I'm about to talk about is Power vs. Force. He talks about the levels of human consciousness, and the lowest level of human consciousness is shame. I've addressed this on the recent podcast we had, Matt and Ash, the authors of The Inner Work on, and they incorporate David Hawkins’ work into their work, into their book, The Inner Work. So, the energy level of shame is the lowest level of consciousness. And then from there is guilt. Guilt is the next lowest level of consciousness, and many of us, if not all of us, carry some level of guilt and shame, and regret within us.
Also, most of us carry some level of hurt or anger or resentment toward other people in our lives who we perceive as having wronged us. So, for the mistakes that we've made, we carry guilt, shame, and regret. And for the mistakes that we perceive others have made, the way that they've wronged us, we tend to carry some form of hurt or anger or resentment towards other people. And if I asked you, are there things you've done or said in the past that you regret that you feel guilty about or maybe even shameful? Maybe you view them as so bad, so unacceptable that there's shame around those things. You ever think back at something you said or did in the past and just cringe? I think that we can all probably more than one instance in our past that that's true for. And I would also ask you, are there things that others have done to you that have hurt you? Maybe it was your parents. I mean, it was your childhood. Maybe it was a coworker last week. It could have been anybody. Maybe it was your spouse. So, stop and think about someone that's hurt you. Do you feel anger or resentment? Or maybe it's even just sadness towards another person for something that they did in the past.
So, these are issues that we carry with us. We carry this emotional pain. In fact, Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now he calls this the pain-body. I haven't read that book in probably five years so I don’t remember exactly how he talks about the pain-body but just the concept, right, is that we carry this body of pain. It’s this residual pain that has built up over our lifetime. Think about that. Like, every time you've had an experience in your past where you did something that you felt bad about, you regretted, or someone else did something that hurt you or caused you anger, et cetera, you experienced some form of pain. You might call it trauma, and that builds and builds and builds. If you do not release those experiences, if you don't release the trauma, don't release the pain, if you don't transcend those traumatic experiences, those painful experiences, then they stick with you. They're stored in your psyche in some way, and they can often be triggered by future events or current events that happen that are similar to those past events. If someone does or says something to you that reminds you of something that your father or your mother or a classmate, someone said to you in the past that really hurt you, it can bring up those old wounds as they talk about. And it's the idea that these emotional wounds that we hold within us until we heal the wounds, right? It's like having an open wound and every time you poke it or you scrape it to get something on accident, it reopens the wound and that's essentially what happens for us emotionally.
And so, what I want to talk about today is forgiveness. So, how do you forgive yourself and others for the mistakes that you've made in your own life and the mistakes that other people, the people that have wronged you? How do you forgive yourself and others? And why is that important? Because again, we're carrying this pain-body. We're carrying these wounds, this trauma, and we're experiencing really, we're experiencing feelings. Think of it this way. When you hold on to shame or guilt for your past mistakes or you hold on to resentment toward another person, you are bound by an emotional link that is detrimental in ways we often don't even realize until we make it conscious and we let go of the past and we move forward with a clean slate. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and really to be free. And so, that's what I want to talk about. And for some, forgiving themselves or forgiving others is really difficult. For you, maybe you go like, “I can't forgive what that person did to me. They wronged me.” And then maybe forgiving whether it's forgiving yourself or forgiving another person, it's difficult for some, it's easier for others.
Consider that forgiving another person when we think, “I can never forgive them for what they did. It was so bad. It was so wrong. They were such a horrible person that they did this to me,” consider that when you hold on to that, it is you that is holding on to that. Meaning if you're not willing to forgive someone, that doesn't hurt them as much as it hurts us but the reason that we do that is that we tend to mistakenly think that forgiving someone who wronged us is to condone what they did. Consider if that's true for you in any way that you think, think of someone in your life that's really wronged you, that you have animosity toward or resentment, or that you just haven't been able to forgive. And consider, is that part of the thought process when you think about it? Is part of the logic is, “I would never forgive them because it feels like that would in some way condone what they did like they don't deserve my forgiveness because what they did was so unacceptable I will never accept that I will never forgive them?” We have to realize it's not them who you're giving your forgiveness to. Forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves.
And if you want to, if you feel compelled to forgive someone outwardly to actually express forgiveness to that person, that's another conversation, essentially, but the two can be mutually exclusive. Meaning, I'm talking to you today about how to forgive yourself and others for your own complete inner healing. I'm not talking about mending the relationship. Now, what's interesting is when you can forgive yourself or forgive another person internally, that might lead to the external outward forgiveness of like, “I'm at peace.” And as we talk through this today, I think it might be easier for you to forgive another person outwardly, for sure, inwardly, like that's what we're diving into today. I'm talking completely unconditionally forgive yourself for all your past mistakes and completely unconditionally forgive other people for the ways that they have wronged you. So, the inner work we're talking about here, as far as the outward forgiveness, that's not the topic of today. But again, once you inwardly forgive someone completely, it's not that far of a leap to go, "You know what, I'm going to give them a call or shoot them a text or send them an email and let them know like, ‘I forgive you.’” So, maybe you'll get there. Maybe you won't. The purpose of today is not about an outward forgiveness where you communicate with any other person. This is all about you. This is all about what's going on inside of you.
So, today I want to talk about again how to forgive ourselves, how to forgive yourself and others completely. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Blame yourself as you blame others. Forgive others as you forgive yourself.” And we tend to do that. You know, there's a great quote. Eckhart Tolle I think I first read. I don't know if it’s his original quote but he said this in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” And that Chinese proverb to me lines up with that, blame yourself as you blame others. If you blame yourself, you will blame others. You tend to project the way that you internalize, right? We project the way we internalize. If we blame ourselves, we will probably blame others. If we can forgive ourselves, well, how you do anything is how you do everything. So, if you're able to forgive yourself, you're most likely able to forgive other people.
Now, according to a Stanford University or according to Stanford University, not a Stanford. I don't know if there's more than one. I think there's just one. I used to live by Stanford University, actually in Palo Alto. But anyway, the action of forgiveness involves dissolving a certain feeling in favor of another. I'm going to say that again. The action of forgiveness, so when you forgive yourself or you inwardly forgive another person, involves dissolving a certain feeling in favor of another. So, that would include or could include dissolving those feelings of guilt or shame or regret towards yourself or dissolving feelings of hurt or anger or resentment toward another person. So, when you do this, when you make a conscious decision to completely forgive yourself for all of your past mistakes realizing that there's no value in holding on to the resentment. Now, there may be value in the resentment. Let me explain that. I'm kind of getting ahead of myself here but there is value. There could be value and here's what I mean. Well, what does regret tell you? If you regret something that you did, typically, that's data that's for you to be aware of, "Oh, I don't want to do that again.” That's what learning from our mistakes is, right? Pretty simple.
So, if you experience regret, that is telling you, “I don't want to do that again. I learned from a mistake.” It's one of the best ways for us to learn, right? It’s actually making the mistake in that way the things that we're regretting actually hold a lot of value for us. If we hadn't made the mistake firsthand, experienced the pain of the mistake and the outcome from that mistake, well, then we wouldn't have any fuel to make a change, right? We wouldn't have any reason to improve. But making mistakes, which we've all done countless times, is one of the best ways. It's part of life. It's part of what we create in our life to learn what we want to change or improve moving forward. So, there is value in that regret but it's a diminishing return, meaning the longer you hold on to that regret, the more the value diminishes and then it becomes the opposite. Now, it's causing you emotional turmoil. Now, it's creating an emotional wound. So, forgiveness, again, is the only way to dissolve these emotional wounds and to really be free.
So, personally, I was going to bed. This episode, I've been thinking about recording for about a month because this was, I think, like end of September. I had this breakthrough realization. I was falling asleep at night. It's when all my, I swear, it always takes me like I have now 30 minutes planned after I lay down with a journal by my bed because I just know me. I don't know if they come from spirit or higher consciousness or the universe, God, but I just get these messages. And it's sometimes annoying because I'm like, “I just want to go to sleep,” but I wake up, I write them down, I lay down again in my brain and maybe this happens to you. I get more and more like, literally, my book that I am working on, 90% of it has been written at night before I fall asleep. No joke. Like, 90% of it is just notes and that's actually where I'm struggling because it's like it's on, literally, probably over 100 different notes and I got to figure out how to organize all of them. But anyway, that's neither here nor there. So, I realized as I was falling asleep that I don't ever need to feel guilty. And again, that is a theme of consciousness of guilt but I don't ever need to be in that theme of consciousness again because I've always done the best I could with what I believe to be true at the time.
And think about that for a second. For the most part, yeah, we act out. You know, we for sure do things that aren't in alignment with what we believe to be true or right. We let temptation override good judgment. Raise my hands up. Raise your hand if you ever let temptation override good judgment. It could be with diet. It could be with anything. But we do the easy thing instead of doing the right thing, what we believe to be right. So, for sure, when I say that to myself, I was realizing I've always done the best I could with what I believed to be true, it's relative. I could argue against that at certain times that I wasn't doing the best I could. But if you think about it in this context that even not doing the best you could at the time was the best you could have done because it's what you did. That make sense? Meaning, maybe based on your level of discipline, you did the easy thing versus the right thing, and that was the best you could in that moment, and that's what you did. Now, in an alternate universe, could you have done something different? Absolutely. But we're dealing with reality. We're dealing with what you did. The past is the past. You did what you did.
You can either choose to continue beating yourself up about it or you can completely accept that you were doing the best you could at the time with what you believed to be true with the knowledge you had with the personal discipline that you had. And give yourself a little grace to make mistakes because we've all done it. All of us. The only question is, are you going to continue holding those mistakes against you? Are you going to continue experiencing guilt or shame or regret over your past? Or are you going to transcend all of those through the power of forgiveness? Are you ready to forgive yourself completely and be at peace? And by the way, to me, you could swap the word forgive with the word love. In fact, I actually thought about that for today's episode. Instead of the episode today I think is going to be titled How to Forgive Yourself and Others, I thought about calling it How to Love Yourself and Others Unconditionally because they kind of go hand-in-hand. If you love someone unconditionally, forgiveness is baked into that. Think about that. If you love somebody unconditionally, well, you're forgiving them for their mistakes as part of loving them unconditionally.
And if you're married or if you're in a relationship, this is really important to think about with your spouse. If you really love them unconditionally, then you can forgive them for the mistakes they've made in the past, and you can forgive them for the mistakes they make in the future. But if you don't really love them unconditionally, that's not about them. That’s about you. It might be time for a gut check. And I have to give myself that checks in my relationships, with my wife. It’s like, "Wait, am I loving this person the way that I believe love is intended, which is unconditional with forgiveness baked in? Or am I holding them to the standard that I've created in my mind as to how I think they should act and what I think they should do or not do or say or not say? Hmm.” One of my values is unconditional love and I find myself often living out of alignment with that value and placing conditions on how I feel towards other people. But as soon as I become aware of that, I go, “Oh, wait a minute, I'm not living in alignment with my value of unconditional love. Hmm. Time to get back to that.” Now, that I'm present to how I'm living out of alignment, which you could call that, well, that's a mistake. I was doing the best I could at the time with the moment but then I realized, “Oh, I can do better. I can do better, so I will do better. So, I will do better.”
You know, so that night, by the way, when I had this realization and I started journaling about it and I literally wrote down, I'm reading from my journal, I now realize that I don't ever need to feel guilty or to be in that theme of consciousness again because I've always done the best I could with what I believed to be true. And then what I wrote - so what I realized is that we all have the ability to be completely at peace with all of our former decisions as well as that peace with the consequences of our decisions. I want to say that again. We can be at peace with all of our former decisions because let me explain what caused this thought was I was thinking about something that I did that I now have a fear of that a mistake I made. I don't know if it's a mistake. Only time will tell. But something, a decision that I made in the past, it was an investment, essentially, and now I'm wondering, did I make a bad investment? And now in the future, am I going to have to suffer the consequences of what may have been a mistake at the time? You guys tracking me? I'm keeping this general because I want you to apply this to your life. I made a mistake in the past and now I'm not sure if it's going to result in an unintended consequence in the future, an undesirable, maybe even painful consequence in the future.
So, that's what was on my mind. That was the struggle, the challenge that I was dealing with and the realization was I don't have to feel guilty about that because I was doing the best I could with what I believed to be true at the time. And just that alone, just affirming that alone, oh, it was like I got to exhale. I had been feeling stressed for months about this decision. And once I realized that, I just, “Hal, hey, buddy,” the way you talk to anyone that you loved unconditionally, the way you talk to your child, hopefully, right? Like, “Hey, buddy, you were doing the best you could with what you thought was true at the time. Don't beat yourself up. It's okay.” And then this next piece of it was to me was more profound, which is I have the ability, we all have the ability to be completely at peace with the decision that I made, with all of our former decisions as well as be at peace with the consequences of our decisions because, again, I was making what I believed were the best decisions I could based on the information I had and living in alignment with my values at the time.
So, if you into the podcast now and you just walk away with that and you implement that and you embody that, that alone can be the game-changer. That alone can be the gateway to forgiveness to realize, “Oh, I don't need to beat myself up. I was doing the best I could with what I had.” And then what was interesting for me was then projecting that forgiveness into the future to go, “I don't need to fear the consequence. I can be at peace with the consequences of the decision I made in the past because I was doing the best I could, and whatever the consequence is, I can own that. In fact, there's a hip-hop artist that I listened to with my kids. He goes by the initials NF. I think that's the initials of his name. I don’t know if you listen to him but I like him. He doesn't curse at all so I've let the kids listen to him and some of his messages are a little intense, so I kind of screen which songs they listen to. But overall, a lot of positive messages in a song. So, in one of his songs, he says, “When my life crashes, I'm not the guy that'll flee the scene. I'll take ownership and own it and raise my hand if it's me. Just remember though, I'm only a man, I'm a human being.”
And it was that night as I was journaling that those lyrics came into my consciousness. I remembered that line from the song, “When my life crashes, I'm not the guy that'll flee the scene. I'll take ownership and own it and raise my hand if it's me. Just remember, though, I'm only a man. I'm a human being.” And, I, we humans don't ever need to experience a perpetual state of guilt, shame, or regret for something we did in the past ever again. We have the ability to forgive ourselves for the things that we look back at and wish we would have done differently because we did what we did. We did the best we could with the knowledge we had and what we believed to be true. When your life crashes, don't flee the scene. Take your ownership and raise your hand if it's you. Just remember, though, you're only a man or a woman or you're a human being like allowing grace to ourselves. And by the way, everything I'm talking about today, I know I'm going back and forth a little bit between forgiving yourself and forgiving other people. Primarily, I've been focusing on forgiving yourself and just about every nuance that we're addressing here applies to forgiving another person. Be completely at peace with other people's former decisions, realizing that they were just doing the best they could with who they were.
You know, when someone acts out at our school, there are some bullies at our school and one kid in particular, and he's been a bully to my daughter, to her friends, to another friend on and on and on. And it's really easy to judge this kid, “What a jerk. I can't believe he said that to you and I can't believe he did that. What an awful kid. What an awful person. Who would do that to these other children? Who would be so mean?” And then I got a glimpse from his mom into the family life and realized that it's really hard for this kid at home. And if you think about it, most people if they act out, if they do something that you would consider to be wrong or evil or mean, just mean, how could you do that to another person, they're usually just projecting. They're usually just reenacting some trauma that they've experienced, and they're trying to release it, and they don't have a healthy way to do that. And so, the way they do that is by projecting the trauma onto another person. They were hurt so they hurt others, right? Hurt people hurt others. Abused people abuse others. Does it make it right? No. Does it make it understandable? Yeah, maybe. Again, not understandable that I'm condoning it but to understand where someone is coming from and what they went through.
And you've heard me say this before and this goes really into the forgiving of other people. If you had lived that person's life, someone who has wronged you or you see wrong in another or you judge from afar such as a politician or something along those lines, somebody in the news that you’d think, “I would never do that. It's horrible.” Had you lived their life, there's a very good chance that you would do the same thing, that you would have said and done and been exactly the same, if you think about that, if you were that person with their brain at that time, in that moment having their past experiences and conditioning.
In an extreme example, for example, let’s say that somebody is violent with somebody else. Well, if they grew up in an environment of violence, that’s actually normal for them. Again, doesn’t make it right, but to me, we can transcend judgment and condemnation to achieve a level of understanding. So, again, we can transcend all of these harmful emotional states or ways of being, such as hate and anger and resentment and condemnation. When you actually consider who another person is, what they’ve been through, why they did what they did, even if it wasn’t right.
And most likely, when someone wronged someone else, they might regret it typically, they would regret it, they would go, oh man, even if they don’t admit it, deep down inside, they know they shouldn’t have done that, or if they think they should have done that, that shows you how broken that person potentially is, how much trauma they’ve endured that they actually justify being awful to another person, and they actually think it’s right. But if you had been that, if you were them, you would think the same thing. How would you be? You wouldn’t be different. You’re only different because you’re you. But if you were them, you’d be them. You follow, like, are you tracking me here? It might sound overly simple, but it’s really important because from that place, like I don’t have, how do I say this? I don’t want to speak in absolutes, which I think I was about to do, which is why I caught myself, but I try not to have any really, what you’d call, I guess, negative. I think negative is such a subjective word, but any harmful, negative, destructive, hateful, vengeful feelings toward other people, even those that wrong others, even those that wrong other people.
For example, when I was 20 years old, if you’re a long-time podcast listener, you know the story that I was hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 or 80 miles an hour, somewhere in that range. And then another car hit me, an innocent– so a drunk driver hit me head-on, and then my car spun off the drunk driver, and another car hit me in my door, driver’s side door. And they broke 11 bones. Most of the injury was from the side impact, the innocent family that was falling behind me.
But here’s the point, the drunk driver, a lot of people in my life had really hateful feelings toward him. And I could understand that, I wouldn’t judge them for that, I wouldn’t judge them that they wanted to– I think my mom said once, “I want to kill this guy. He can’t really do this to my son.” And I’m sure she was speaking out of hurt and anger, I don’t think she would never genuinely kill a guy, whatever, right? But I don’t know if she said those exact words. It was 25 years ago, whatever. But I know she had a lot of emotion towards this guy. I know she did forgive him, by the way, because we did talk, but I think that took her a lot longer.
For me, I forgave him immediately, like within a day or a week, or I don’t remember how long, exactly. And it’s because of this paradigm that I just shared with you that if I had been another person, I probably would do the same thing. So, for me, forgiveness is baked into just unconditional love, which is how I try to view all people. So, like, I have forgiven you before you’ve wronged me, like there’s nothing someone could do to me that I’m aware of.
Now, I say that, but then like my mind went to someone harming my children. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not going to say for sure how I’d feel in that situation, but that would be one of the most unimaginable things, one of the most– well, like I shake when I think about somebody harming my children, so. I can’t speak on that because I’ve never had that happen. But for the most part, what I have had happened, like this drunk driver injuring me and almost killing me. And at that time, by the way, I was told I was never going to walk again. I was forgiving the guy who made it so that I would never walk again because that’s what I was being told at the time. I didn’t know any better, right?
But the point is, it’s this unconditional state of forgiveness where I forgive everyone for their mistakes. I forgive everyone for their mistakes. So, I even said to people that we’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe this drunk driver, you must want to kill him or you must hate him. I don’t remember what they said, but something like that. And I said, “Why would I hate him?” They said, “Because he ruined your life, you’re in a hospital, you’ve broken bones. You’re never going to walk again, like he ruined your life.” Yeah, of course, why wouldn’t you hate him? And I said, “Because you’re looking at the outcome, you’re looking at the result, but you’re not looking at what actually happened.”
What actually happened is this man I had never met before, went to a bar and had a couple of beers and then got into his car because he only lived a few miles from the bar. I think it was like one or two freeway exits up. And he got on the freeway going the wrong way because he was tired, he was drinking. He was, I don’t know, drunk, tired, etc. He didn’t try to hurt me. He didn’t come and vengefully try to hurt me, which I could forgive him even for that. But the point is we’re dealing with the situation at hand versus a hypothetical. He drank some beers, got into his car to drive home. That’s what happened. Why would I hate someone for drinking a couple of beers and then getting in their car to drive home to their family? You follow me? Yeah, but his car hit yours, and he broke 11 bones. Yeah, but that wasn’t what he intended to do. Why would I hate him for drinking beer and driving home?
And so, that’s my personal experience with forgiveness, like the most extreme challenge I faced. And someone that essentially, you could say did it to me, right? And then processing it as complete forgiveness. And here’s the thing I want you to think about this. Remember, when you hold on to resentment, you create emotional turmoil within yourself. If I held on to that emotional resentment to this day, oh, that drunk driver, oh man, if I ever saw him, I hate that guy for what he did to me. Would that affect him? Or would that affect me? He has his own, maybe he hasn’t forgiven himself, I don’t know. But his forgiveness or lack thereof affects him, and my forgiveness or lack thereof affects me. And your forgiveness or lack thereof affects you, it doesn’t affect the other person. You’re not condoning their behavior by forgiving them, you’re acknowledging that they made a mistake and that you deserve to be free from the emotional turmoil that is perpetuated within yourself by not forgiving another person and not forgiving yourself for the mistakes of the past.
Forgiveness is about transcendence. Forgiveness is about transcendence, you’re transcending the emotional states or turmoil or wounds, whatever you want to call it, you’re transcending them to be able to find alternate emotional states of peace or tranquility or love or understanding. Remember, according to Stanford University, the action of forgiveness involves dissolving a certain feeling in favor of another. I would use the word transcending a certain feeling in favor of another. So, again, when you do this, when you forgive unconditionally, completely, you create space to replace those destructive emotions with any emotion you choose, such as peace, tranquility, love, understanding, empathy, etc. You could even say forgiveness almost could be an emotion, I think. I don’t know. I don’t know if it technically qualifies, but if like I guess when you forgive, it just gives you the sense of release of peace, etc.
Alright. How do you do this? How do you forgive yourself? Let’s talk about some simple kind of steps, and then I’m going to give you, I’m going to share with you my affirmations that I wrote that night. Actually, I think I wrote them the next morning after I reviewed all of my journal entry and my notes. Actually, I don’t know, I might have done it that night, but the point is, I’m going to share with you my affirmations that I use to forgive myself completely, to forgive others completely, and also to let go of the past completely, which is kind of a nuance for both of those. If you’re forgiving yourself, you’re letting go of the past. If you’re forgiving others, you’re letting go of the past unless you’re forgiving them for something that hasn’t happened yet, which that’d be I do encourage you to do that, though again, when you live in a state of forgiveness within one of your values, essentially, I have forgiven anyone that ever wrongs me for the rest of my life. When you do something to me, I’ve already forgiven you before you did it because it was a decision that this is how I’m going to live.
When you decide on your values and you live in alignment with your values, then your decisions are made for you ahead of time. For example, if you have a value of complete honesty and integrity, then your decision to always tell the truth, to always follow through with your promises, to always honor your word, those decisions are all made for you because you’ve identified your values or that value and you’ve made a commitment to live in alignment with that value. Forgiveness is one of my values. I don’t list it as a value. Actually, unconditional love is the value. But for me, as I mentioned earlier, forgiveness is baked into that value. But because that’s a value, I love all people unconditionally and I forgive them unconditionally before it happens. And again, please, I hope I’m not coming across like I’m not trying to be righteous or virtue signaling or be like, look at me. I’m just trying to help you in any way that I can. And using my own personal experience or examples is personally, one of the best ways that I know how to do this, so.
Alright, so once you’ve decided that it’s worthwhile to forgive yourself, which is like that’s technically, I guess, step one, because if you’re not convinced, and up until this point, that was kind of I think my objective is not only to give you some tips and strategies but really to invite you to consider that, yeah, it is time. It’s time for me to forgive myself for all my mistakes. It’s time for me to forgive other people that have wronged me because I’m ready to be completely at peace and to transcend those painful emotions, such as anger, resentment, regret, etc. Hate, condemnation seems to transcend those four states that better serve me, peace, tranquility, love, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, empathy, etc.
So, if you’ve decided, if you’re open to letting me decide, if you’re open to forgiving yourself and others, if I’ve at least opened you up to think, yeah, I think this might be worthwhile. Here are three kind of steps, if you will, and they don’t be done in order. But the first is acknowledge that you can’t change the past, right? That part of forgiveness is realizing that, look, this thing that I’m holding on to, that I’m carrying this emotional baggage as a result of, it’s in the past. I am still stewing over it in the present. But it happened yesterday or it happened last year or it happened when I was a kid. So, the first step in forgiveness is to acknowledge that you can’t change the past. Whatever happened in the past, it is what it is. And at this point, you can never go back in time and make it any different.
So, your only choice is whether you’re going to continue generating what can be destructive emotional energy, or if you’re going to let it go, you’re going to transcend whatever it was, the experience or the trauma or the wound or someone wronging you or a mistake you made, you decide if you’re going to hang on to it and keep carrying it with you in a way that doesn’t bring you joy or if you’re going to let it go and move on. So, that’s number one. You’ve got to acknowledge that you can’t change the past. So, now, you’ve got to decide, how are you going to deal with the past in the present? Are you going to carry it with you? Or are you going to let it go and move on and be at peace?
Number two, assess your values. I touched on this a few minutes ago, but as we make mistakes, we learn from them and then we grow and then we evolve over time. And as you do that, you begin to realize the type of person that you want to become. My values today were not my values 10 years ago. Some of them are, but many of them have emerged since I’ve learned new ways of thinking, new ways of being, new levels of consciousness, or themes of consciousness. In doing so, in learning more both through education but also experiences in life, making mistakes, learning from those, developing values as a result, all of the above, I become clearer and clearer and clearer on who I want to be, who I am committed to be, the best version of myself.
And then, for me, every day I wake up and I really strive to live in alignment with all of my values. And it’s interesting, but now, it’s second nature. But when I think back, I have a document that I wrote when I was 19 years old. And I think it was called like my keys to self-improvement, something like that. And I look at that shit. In fact, I wish I had it in front of me right now, I don’t, but it said things like live with total integrity, always honor your word, tell the truth, and do exactly what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, something like that. When I wrote that, I did not live with total integrity, I did not follow through. I would say things and do something else. I don’t think I always told the truth. I mean, maybe I did. I don’t know.
But the point is, I wrote down these 10 keys to self-improvement, and they were all aspirational. They were aspirational. I wasn’t living in alignment with those, which is why I wrote them down. I need to do these 10 things in order to be the person that I want to become, the best version of myself. These 10 keys to self-improvement to me, define in a lot of ways that person that I want to become. So, when I wrote those, I wasn’t living them, I was aspiring to live them. And then now when I look back, again, I haven’t looked at it, I found it a few months ago or weeks ago or something, and I looked it over. But I just remember going, wow, this is who I became. This is who I became, like, I live all of these values now. it was encouraging in a lot of ways, it was encouraging for me, personally, of course, but it was encouraging just from as someone who has kids, as someone who is always trying to, as I’m recording this podcast, I’m writing books, I’m trying to help other people through my work. It was really encouraging to be like, wow, back then, I didn’t know if I could be that person, but it showed that we can all become the person that we commit to becoming.
So, assessing your values is an important part of forgiving yourself because you get clear that the values that you would determine now to be your highest values or who you aspire to be are different from when you made those mistakes. You weren’t even thinking about those values, most likely. Sometimes, guilt overtakes us because past experiences or instances or mistakes don’t match our current morals and values, but we can use that as an opportunity to evaluate who we’re committed to being as a person now, which values will you live by, which behaviors do you want to commit to following through with living by, but also, which behaviors do you want to refrain from doing? Decide to live in alignment with your values. So, number one, acknowledge that you can’t change the past. Number two, assess your values. And number three, and this is arguably most important to me, I think, and this stands alone. If this is all you do, great. Affirm your decision to forgive yourself. Affirm your decision to forgive yourself, and I mentioned, after I share this, I’m going to read you my affirmations and I’ll post them in the show notes of this episode as well so that you can actually go if you want to and you can write them down or copy them down, etc.
So, here’s what I mean by affirm your decision to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time event because the feelings that you have of guilt, shame, regret, hurt, anger, resentment, those feelings are deeply rooted, especially depending on how long you felt them. These are things from your childhood or things from when you were much younger. My drunk driving accident was I was 20. If I had a lot of resentment and anger and condemnation toward the drunk driver, and I had been reinforcing those emotional patterns for 25 years, then it’s not just, oh yeah, I forgive, I’m done because as that car totally talks about that pain body is within you, it’s rooted in your subconscious, in your psyche. You can’t just snap your fingers and dissolve the pain body, you need repetition.
And so, again, forgiveness, it’s rarely a one-time event. So, your new feelings, your new emotional state, the fact that you’re committed to forgiving and being at peace and letting go of the past, it’s got to be reconditioned consistently over time. So, continue reaffirming and reminding yourself that you’ve decided to forgive yourself and others unconditionally and completely and make that part of your daily affirmations until the thought of the things that previously you were holding against yourself or others, affirm until there’s no painful emotion there anymore, no turmoil, no anger, no sadness, no hurt, no regret, you’re at peace with it because you’ve completely forgiven. Again, not a one-time event, it’s a daily repetitive affirming so you can recondition the emotional response you have to past mistakes and events and wrongdoing. You got to recondition it over time.
So, again, those three tips for you, and then I’m going to share my affirmations. Number one, acknowledge that you can’t change the past. Whatever happened in the past, it is what it is. You can’t go back in time and change it. You got to decide, I’m either going to stew over it forever or indefinitely, or I’m ready to completely forgive, like, oh, and move on and be at peace and not have to have any inner conflict or turmoil anymore. Number two, assess your values, right? Get clear on what are the values you’re committed to living to now and realize that you’re a different person now than you were in the past. And number three, affirm your decision to forgive yourself. Affirm it over and over and over until it becomes who you are that you’ve completely forgiven.
Alright. Here are the affirmations that I wrote for myself, and you can model these. If you want to copy and paste these, these are going to be in the show notes. Today is Episode 404. If you go to HalElrod.com/404, you can access these affirmations in the show notes, copy and paste them, and then customize them so they’re in a language that resonates with you. And then also, please leave me a comment there and let me know if this episode was helpful if it landed for you. And if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer every single one in that Episode 404. That’s at HalElrod.com/404.
And here are my affirmations. The first one is about forgiving myself completely. Here we go, I completely forgive myself for all of the mistakes of my past knowing that I was making the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time and what I believe to be true. From this moment on, I refuse to experience any more ongoing self-destructive and unnecessary guilt, shame, or regret. The next affirmation is on forgiving others completely. Just as I acknowledge that I am only human, make mistakes, and deserve grace and forgiveness, I simultaneously realize that everyone else is also just making the best decisions they can based on who they are at the time. So, I forgive all people who have hurt me in my life. From this moment on, I refuse to experience any more ongoing self-destructive and unnecessary judgment, anger, hate, or resentment. And then last, but not least, this is affirming letting go of the past completely. I cannot change the decisions I’ve made in the past, so it is only logical that I choose to be completely at peace with all decisions and equally at peace with the resulting consequences of those decisions. From this moment on, I refuse to experience ongoing self-destructive and unnecessary fear over the consequences I may experience in the future because I know that I can handle anything that I am faced with and will do so living in aligned with my highest values, which are as follows.
Number one, unconditional acceptance, which gives me the freedom to be at peace with all things I can’t change. Number two, unconditional love, which gives me the freedom to view all of life, including all people with compassion and understanding. Number three, unwavering faith, which gives me the freedom to transcend my fears and maintain faith that I can do anything I commit to doing in my life. Number four, extraordinary effort, which gives me the freedom to transcend my past lazy tendencies with the full knowledge and belief that I am capable of doing difficult things and putting forth extraordinary effort no matter what. I have more values, but those were the four that I applied to the forgiveness piece.
So, again, I will list those at HalElrod.com/404. And let’s wrap this thing up and do so. I just want to say that all of this, that first, or actually, the second value I listed, unconditional love, I think that everything we talked about today can all be held within the context of unconditional love. If you love yourself unconditionally, then you will forgive yourself unconditionally because if you love yourself unconditionally, you wouldn’t put yourself through an indefinite amount of time of emotional pain over something that you can’t change in the past, you would forgive yourself completely. And so, I invite and encourage you to do that.
And the same goes for every person in your life that has ever wronged you or that you perceive that they wronged you. Unconditional love doesn’t condone the wrongdoing, it gives you freedom from, again, the emotional pain from not forgiving that person and holding them with resentment or hate or anger. You deserve to be free. You deserve complete inner freedom. And forgiveness is a path that will allow you to get free from what is holding you back, the things that you’re not willing to forgive. So, make that decision today, acknowledge that you can’t change the past, assess your values, and then affirm your decision to forgive yourself over and over and over until it just becomes who you are, and then you don’t have to even consciously think about forgiving because you’ve already forgiven everything. I love you so much. Thank you for tuning in today. And yeah, that’s it for today. I love you. I’ll talk to you next week. Make it a great one.