Forgiving the Past

Photo by Julia Volk on

I’ve recently started reading “The High 5 Habit” by Mel Robbins.  The premise of the book is to acknowledge and accept ourselves and to learn to be our own cheerleaders.  She talks about rewiring the brain through this small habit every day, of high fiving ourselves in the mirror.  Now, I will admit I haven’t started doing that yet (and to be fair I’m not done with the book yet) but after my experience the other day of seeing the value in sharing an authentic side of myself where I normally wouldn’t, I feel there is value in this type of self-validation as well. 

So, while I didn’t high five myself yet, I did take some time to really sit (well stand) with my reflection in the mirror.  I noticed that I don’t often look at myself in the mirror unless I’m correcting something like brushing my teeth, fixing my hair, or putting on makeup.  I’m not using the mirror to see myself, I’m using the mirror to put on a façade.  Then something interesting happened: I felt a spark of when I was a child and feeling afraid looking at myself, feeling sad for saying something to my mom that my four year old mind didn’t understand.  I remember as a teen feeling embarrassed over some nonsense and feeling shame watching myself in the mirror.  And I realized that even if I wasn’t ready to high five myself, not ready to celebrate myself, maybe I could see myself differently.  I could acknowledge what was THERE.  For me, that was facing the fear. 

I have felt fear about accepting myself for a long time because of what I mentioned the other day: we are trained that we are worthy when someone tells us we are worthy and I bought into that nearly my whole life.  So when I stood in front of the mirror and felt those things from my past, reliving the mistakes, I faced my fear.  And it didn’t happen right away, but I slowly started feeling like facing that fear is what I am meant to do.  A different emotion popped up as well: acceptance of what happened and forgiveness.  Standing in the face of fear and saying I forgive myself for not knowing better, I forgive us all for not knowing better—I do now and it is time to move forward knowing better today.

So the celebration is important.  But I feel the foundation is more important and that foundation means seeing yourself for the first time.  Like, really seeing yourself and taking the moment to just be there.  I mentioned above that I never really looked in the mirror, and I know I never used to be able to look myself in the eyes—it felt too personal or like I was hiding something.  The truth is, I really was hiding something.  Every time I saw myself, I saw every horrible thing I’ve done, I saw every negative thing about myself.  And to Mel’s point: what good was that doing?  Learning to forgive is what got me to see myself.  THAT is something worth celebrating.  The more I see and accept who I am, the more I forgive, the more strength I put in my own wings, the easier it becomes.  So, celebration is necessary, yes, but take the time to accept first.  That’s where we start.

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