In January, I posted about New Year’s Resolutions and how making a commitment to yourself is more likely to succeed. According to Statistic Brain, only 46% of those who make resolutions will stick to them for longer than 6 months. Since July is the halfway point between the New Year and the next year, this seems like a great time to ask how you’re doing with your resolutions (or commitments) for 2013.
CareerRealism has an outstanding post on conducting your personal mid-year review, broken up into “Look-Back” and “Look-Forward” questions. Personally, I’m doing a terrible job. I could list the circumstances surrounding my failure to stick to my goals, but I’m not sure at this point whether they’re reasons or excuses. So I thought a little exercise in self-forgiveness might be in order (courtesy of WikiHow), so I can start the second half of my year in a positive frame of mind and make some progress toward my goals – kind of like hitting my personal reset button.
- Understand the importance of forgiveness. Living in a state of being unable to forgive requires a lot of energy that could be put to better use. By living in the present, you can move into the future with a renewed sense of purpose focused on change, improvement, and building on experience rather than being held back by past hurts.
- Forgiveness is good for your health. Being stuck in the past – with its attendant anger and resentment – can take a huge toll on your emotional and physical health. Studies have shown that people stuck in constant anger are more prone to disease and illness. Remember that forgiving doesn’t equate with forgetting. It’s about leaving aside the resentment that comes with remembering.
- Accept your emotions. Some people struggle to accept they are feeling negative emotions as anger, fear, resentment, and vulnerability. Don’t hide from these emotions – remember that a problem named is a problem ready to be tackled.
- Fight perfectionism. Why are you trying to hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else around you? Perfectionism can be a trap in which it becomes hard to forgive yourself because it feels like accepting a sub-standard version of yourself. Welcoming imperfection allows you to accept that all human beings are imperfect, and you are human, and imperfect too.
- Let go of other people’s expectations for you. You have no control over what other people do and say, and many things are said and done based on the other person’s own shortcomings. Don’t make too much of another person’s mixed-up feelings. Start making the changes needed to follow your own purpose instead.
- Stop punishing yourself. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or condoning. It’s perfectly fine to say: “I am not proud of what I’ve done…but I’m moving on for the sake of my health, my well-being, and those around me.” Affirming this is healthy and allows you to openly acknowledge what was wrong and the intention to set it right.
- Practice self-acceptance. Target the specific actions that you feel bad about and acknowledge that you’re a good person, faults and all. It doesn’t mean that you ignore the faults or stop trying to improve yourself but it does mean that you value yourself.
- Think about what will improve in your life when you forgive yourself. Once you’ve resolved to forgive yourself, do something to confirm this forgiveness and keep yourself on track. Many people find that mediation or keeping a diary is helpful. If you have tried hard to get over anger, resentment, and other out-of-control emotions but you’re still struggling, connect with a therapist who can help guide you. If you have a faith, draw strength from its teachings to support you.
- See forgiveness as a journey, not a destination. Forgiveness is an ongoing process – you’ll have your up days and your down days, as with most feelings and experiences in life. Let the slip-ups happen and see them as minor setbacks. Forgiveness has no timetable. Be grateful for what you do have – great relationships, a home, a family, an education, abilities, interests, hobbies, pets, health, etc. Look for the good in your life. Be self-compassionate. Apologize if others have been involved and you have not already done so, or you have not done so genuinely. Only do this when you have changed your negative outlook and if doing so will not harm that person.