Leadership Forgiveness

The Ability to Lead is Learning To Forgive…Yourself

In the last post we discussed forgiveness as the mark of a great leader. We underscored that forgiving others will release the toxic energy that keeps us from feeling peaceful and confident, and moving on to better things. In this post we’ll take a look at self-forgiveness, an infinitely more difficult and involved process, but the rewards are worth it! To lead yourself effectively is the foundation of great leadership.

Leadership ForgivenessHow many of us beat ourselves up, over and over again, about – well – everything?!

I should have done this differently or better, I shouldn’t have done that at all, I shouldn’t have said what I did, I should have expressed what I really felt. If only I were a better person (mother, father, spouse, friend, coworker, boss) I’d have reacted differently, if only I had studied harder, if only I had cared more, if only I had cared less. Why didn’t I take a stand, why didn’t I reach out to a friend?

Should have, shouldn’t have, if only, why didn’t I….and you can fill in your own words. However you phrase the thoughts that you castigate yourself with, it’s a toxic thought that punishes you over and over again. It’s hard to lead others when we have so many doubts about ourselves.

We have an easier time forgiving other people than we do ourselves; we don’t personalize other people’s actions as much. It’s often easier to feel compassion towards others, because we can rationalize that they were doing the best that they could at the time (which is true, by the way). But it’s more difficult to extend that compassion toward ourselves.

When our inner critics tell us that we’re not good enough and that we’ve done something wrong, many of us believe it. It’s tough to forgive yourself if, at your core, you believe you’re not good enough.

Self-forgiveness begins when you allow yourself to understand that you are good enough and that in fact, you’re perfect.

Each of us is perfect, and although we sometimes do, say, or think things that we wish we hadn’t, a key to self-forgiveness is not to judge ourselves because of that – to have compassion for ourselves. Instead, when we notice that something doesn’t really feel good, we can look at it as an opportunity to grow and say, “What is it that I’m doing here that doesn’t feel right to me? What’s not working here for me?” and then, to just simply make an adjustment. First and foremost, lead yourself in the right direction.

Great leaders see things that don’t work out and grow from their experiences. They don’t give heed to, or don’t even hear, that inner critic. People with a lot of toxic thoughts, however, have their deepest fears reinforced and they continue the cycle of self-blame. Isn’t it time to break the cycle?

In the words of Saint Francis de Sales…

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

What have you been beating yourself up over? Leave a comment below to share with the community and then…forgive yourself!