In Buddhism, one of my favorite meditations is the one on forgiveness. In this meditation, you reflect on the 3 types of forgiveness: asking forgiveness from those whom you have hurt, forgiving those who have hurt you, and forgiving yourself for self-harm.
As I mentioned in a previous post, because of my fear of going to hell, I have no problem asking for forgiveness for real and imagined sins. I also do my best to forgive those who have hurt me because I believe it is a gift to myself to do so. Sometimes the best I can do is to have the intention to forgive, but in Buddhism that is enough.
From my personal and professional experience, self-forgiveness is often the hardest one to practice. One of my parts is a judge who doles out punishments for non-existent crimes. This is fairly common for people who struggle with depression and anxiety.
This weekend I had to repeatedly remind myself that it's not my fault that I'm depressed. I cannot even articulate what I have done wrong, yet somehow I feel I have failed at something. I didn't wake up early enough. I went to bed too late. I didn't make enough of an effort to ask for help. I am being too needy. I stayed too long in my previous relationship. I'm not being forgiving enough or letting go of anger fast enough.
This is how the internal judge is: it can argue both ways, and either way it's your fault.
I think that one of the reasons that we neglect to practice self-forgiveness is that it's not emphasized as much as the other two. For example, in the Our Father, we ask God to forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I am certain that God would also want us to forgive ourselves, but there's no line in there explicitly giving us permission to do so.
But I am hopeful that this will change with Pope Francis. I confess, I have never been excited about a pope before, but I believe that Pope Francis is an enlightened being. I believe that Mandela was one, as well. So it's only fitting that as one enlightened being leaves this world, God gives us another one to maintain equilibrium in the universe. I am hopeful that we will hear more from him about acceptance and forgiveness and less about judgement and sin.
So take that, Judge!
I picked this doodle because it sort of looks like snow.