|My feet, standing on the floor at Hockeytown Restaurant in Detroit|
If you struggle with self-hatred I recommend a book by Everett Worthington - Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free From the Past. Worthington is Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a follower of Jesus.
I got this book for Christmas and am slow-cooking in it. I can never hear enough about forgiveness. I need it for myself. And I need more wisdom in dispensing it to others.
I meet many people who cannot forgive their own selves from past failures, whether real or imagined but unreal. Un-self-forgiveness is a mental and spiritual assassin. Self-forgiveness that is rooted in God's great act of forgiveness in Christ is liberating.
Self-forgiveness will free you from guilt. "Sometimes guilt arises over unrealistic expectations and standards of perfection that none of us can achieve. When you are able to forgive yourself, that weight is lifted." (Worthington, p. 45)
Self-forgiveness will free you from self-blame. "Self-forgiveness frees you from the chattering, accusing voice in your head." (Ib., 46)
Self-forgiveness will free you from stress-related illness. "Self-forgiveness can improve your health, 1 and here’s why. Holding on to self-condemnation elevates your stress, which has been associated with a long list of physical and psychological harm." (Ib.)
Self-forgiveness can liberate you from alcohol misuse. "Forgiveness of the self might be, for alcoholics, the most difficult type of forgiveness to achieve. But if they were able to do so, it could help control their drinking." (Ib., p. 47)
Self-forgiveness can liberate you from accusation. "By bringing our sins to God and receiving God’s forgiveness, we can then forgive ourselves and we can rest in the knowledge that the accusations of Satan are groundless. If we forgive ourselves, we can silence the oppressive voice of the enemy." (Ib., 47)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for flourishing. "By not being so wrapped up in self-condemnation, you can enjoy more pleasurable and positive experiences." (Ib.)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for focusing on God. "Instead of being wrapped up in condemning yourself for past failures, you can seek God and enjoy that relationship." (Ib.)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for focusing on others. "Self-forgiveness allows you to focus on others, with the goal of helping to meet their needs." (Ib., p. 48)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for health. "Self-forgiveness provides energy and vitality. It supplies both a freedom from the past and a forward-thinking orientation that helps you seek the benefits of exercise, a healthy diet, and energetic work." (Ib.)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for a better quality of life. "Self-forgiveness can matter greatly in enhancing one’s quality of life." (Ib., 50)
Self-forgiveness provides freedom for peace. "People who continue to wrestle with self-blame are unsettled. They find it difficult to exhale and relax. Forgiving yourself will help you live at peace." (Ib.)
Worthington cites empirical studies that support these conclusions. I ask, given the great benefits of self-forgiveness, why would anyone choose to wallow in self-condemnation?
Next: What Makes Forgiving Ourselves so Difficult.