Why Forgiveness is Actually Self Care

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Self Care. The world is finally waking up to the fact that self care is IMPORTANT. It looks different for everyone. For one person it might be a bubble bath, face mask and half an hour away from the kids/work to process the day. For others it might be a run, yoga or a spin class. For others it’s setting time aside for themselves; to read a good book or watch a fun film.

Getting into the nitty gritty though, it’s also the deep stuff.

It’s choosing vulnerability about how you’re feeling with a safe friend or spouse. It’s staying true to who you are even when that might cost you friends or money.

For me, that nitty gritty is forgiveness.

I’ve gone on a long internal journey with the topic of forgiveness. It started from a place of not wanting to let them ‘off the hook’ or being angry that they hadn’t ‘paid for what they did’. But the truth is, forgiveness isn’t for them. In fact, it won’t affect them at all. Forgiveness is completely and entirely for you.

When you choose to forgive someone (because yes, it is a choice not a feeling) it doesn’t mean you have to forget. I find it is important to practice wisdom alongside forgiveness. If someone has a habit of lying to you, you may think twice before believing them again. If someone returns your belongings damaged or even not at all, you may choose not to lend them things again. You can still forgive and it can still mend your heart. 

Let me tell you a story.

When I was 11 years old I had just started at ‘big’ school and I was sat in my year seven tutor group class room. I was the first of my siblings to attend Secondary School and so the whole world was new to me. I quickly learnt that there were ‘cool’ people and ‘un-cool’ people and I also discovered that I fitted into the latter category. I felt a distinct need in me to be liked by my more popular classmates and tried to act accordingly. (Spoiler, if you’re 11 years old and in this boat, you don’t have to impress anyone except yourself.) This one particular day before my tutor had arrived to begin the afternoons session, I had borrowed my friends clear lipgloss. The world of makeup being very new to me I was very excited to try it. 

“Why are you bothering to put that on?” Said one of the ‘cooler’ boys in the class. “It won’t make a difference you know, you’ll always be ugly”.

Honestly, it was like the world stopped for a second. I decided to save face and I reply “I know!” as cheerily as I could muster. But his words stayed with me for a long time.

As I continued through my teenage years, looks became more and more important to me. I spent a lot of time plucking my eyebrows and applying makeup but not once do I remember feeling pretty. 

I never thought of the words of that guy. I honestly forgot about them a few days later. It wasn’t like I played them over and over in my head, but they made a subconscious imprint in me that “I will always be ugly”, and I believed it. 

Before you get out your violins, it’s okay. This story has a happy ending. Why? Forgiveness.

Several years later, (and I mean like a good 9 years later) I was listening to someone talking about ‘The Importance of Forgiveness’ and they said ‘just think of someone you need to forgive’. Instantly that moment popped back into my head. It was weird. It was like a box in my brain that I’d thrown away the key for was dragged out of the depths and back into my conscious memory.

And suddenly, a lot of what I’d felt about myself made sense.

See I believed that I would always be ugly, and therefore no-one would like me. And if no-one would like me then what was the point? (Another spoiler, these statements are all LIES).

I’d subconsciously twisted what that boy had said to me and tied it to my worth. Making my identity and who I was at the core of my being nothing more than what I looked like. So if I looked alright, I was an alright person. If I looked bad, I was bad. If what I was wearing was wrong, I was wrong. Etc etc.

And this, my friends, is why forgiveness is SO important.

I could have chosen to hold onto my pain. I could have chosen to not allow myself to forgive this person because he doesn’t deserve it. 

Instead I chose (yes, consciously and powerfully chose) to forgive him. It didn’t happen straight away. It didn’t even happen overnight. But eventually, my heart responded to what my mouth was saying and I genuinely and completely, forgave him. He owed me nothing.

(How to forgive? Decide to forgive. It’s that simple. Maybe say it out loud a few times. You’ll feel a bit silly but that’s okay. I promise you it’s worth it).

From this point on, I started seeing myself through different eyes. I still enjoyed fashion and I still enjoyed makeup because they weren’t the problem. The problem was how I viewed me, and because forgiveness destroyed that root lie in my heart, I was free from all it’s effects. 

I no longer believed that my worth was tied to my looks.
I no longer believed that if I didn’t wear the ‘fashion’ I was worthless.
I no longer believed that I would always be ugly.

I believe that I am so much more than my face.
I believe that I am so much more than my clothes.
I believe that I am worthy, just as I am.

Personalised Journal from Papier

Don’t get me wrong, some days it’s still hard, just like anyone has those days! There are still things I’d love to change about how I look, and I still love style and makeup. 

But the difference is, they no longer define me - I define them.

No matter what your journey, no matter what your root lie, give forgiveness a go.

I’ve seen forgiveness work in not just my life but in countless others for countless situations. If you feel pain about it, then just try it, no matter how small?

So just think, who do you have to forgive? Except a bunch of lies… what have you got to lose?

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