Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘self-forgiveness

Why Is Self-Acceptance So Damned Hard?

with 30 comments

Folks, this blog is part of Collaboration with a Purpose. This time around, we have fourteen bloggers talking about the difficulties with self-love and acceptance. And as I have a really difficult time talking about that l-word when it comes to the self, I’m going to use the term “self-acceptance” for all of it.

Collab with a purpose Self Love

Why is accepting yourself as you are so damned hard?

Think about it. If someone you know is having a hard time, don’t you reach out and say, “Hey. I care. I am here for you. It doesn’t matter how you screwed up. It doesn’t matter at all. I care, I’m here, and I want to help.”

But you don’t do that for yourself. (At least, most of us don’t.) Instead, we beat ourselves up for our mistakes. Because we’re supposed to be perfect, even though it’s OK if everyone else isn’t.

So why is it that we have such a hard time with self-acceptance, anyway? Why can’t we be as kind to ourselves as we are to others in similar situations?

I don’t know. I’ve pondered this for a long time, actually, but despite that, I still have no answers.

Maybe we’re supposed to struggle with this. Maybe we’re supposed to learn, no matter how slowly, how to see ourselves as others do. Or at least how to learn to forgive ourselves for things we’d forgive anyone else…to appreciate our own humanity, even though that means we will make mistakes, and plenty of them.

And sometimes repeat them, even though we’re working on not doing so, because that’s part of being human, too.

It’s hard to unlearn old habits. And it’s really hard to pick up new ones even after you’ve unlearned the old.

Maybe being upset with ourselves is like that. (Hear me out, OK?) It’s like an old, bad habit. We do something that we get upset with, and we chastise ourselves, all because we’ve criticized ourselves this way since we were small. And we don’t know any better way; maybe we don’t even realize there might be a better way.

But accepting yourself, warts and all, is not easy. It sometimes seems easier to accept your worst enemy than your own self, because you believe you should always be at your best, no excuses, no quarter. Even though anyone else — including your worst enemy — you’d agree with the caveat that everyone has their down times, and that we have to accept them. (That is, if you’re feeling like being kind. And I do hope you are, at least for the purposes of this exercise.)

It’s not easy to say, “All right. I’m still a valuable human being, no matter how many mistakes I’ve made, and no matter how often I’ve made them. I deserve to treat myself with kindness and respect, just like I’d treat anyone else,” because we’re not taught how to do that. We’re taught instead that if we think too much about ourselves, we run the risk of being narcissistic.

Or at least self-absorbed. And no one wants that.

All you can do, every day, is tell yourself that it’s all right to forgive yourself, the same way you’d forgive anyone else for the same thing.

And if it’s too hard to tell yourself, “I care, I’m not going to stop caring, and I am not going to hate you forever for screwing up big-time,” well, at least tell yourself that tomorrow is another day. And you can and will make it better, so stop beating yourself up already.

Self-acceptance is damned hard to achieve, no lie. But it is possible. And you should keep working on it, and figure out a strategy that works for you, so you can put your energy to its best use creating things of wonder and beauty — or at least not waste it beating yourself up.

 

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Written by Barb Caffrey

September 5, 2017 at 12:25 am

When Life Gives You Lemons…

with 5 comments

You all know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?”

Sometimes, that lemonade can be sour, even bitter to the taste. But eventually, you will learn to tolerate that taste…and you might even begin to crave it.

Why?

Because it means you’re still trying. It means you haven’t given up. It means you know, deep down in your soul, you are doing everything in your power you can to make the world a better place.

You might be wondering what brought this on.

I’ve been dealing with a family health crisis this past week, and I’ve been running back and forth to the hospital. While I’d rather be doing just about anything else, I’m very glad to do this.

Why?

It means my family member is still alive, still fighting, getting better and doing whatever is possible to improve her health.

That’s a good thing.

See, the connections I have with my family and friends are essential. I want them to be happy, healthy, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

But no one can do that while sitting in a hospital bed.

Even though this week didn’t go at all according to plan, I’m glad that I was able to do something to try to help those who are important to me.

One final thought:

Sometimes, it feels like we’re not doing very much during a crisis. This is very human, but somehow we need to throw those feelings to the side.

Why?

Because self-forgiveness — which I’ve discussed before — is essential at times like this. We are not saints, and we can’t expect ourselves to act as if we are. All we can do is be ourselves, try our best, and do whatever we can to make life a little better place.

Including visiting those who are ill (if they’re up to visits), talking with them, and letting them know we care.

That’s what’s important.

Don’t lose sight of it. (Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 29, 2017 at 11:33 pm

Forgiveness (Especially of the Self), Easter, and Faith

with 5 comments

Before I get into today’s blog, I’d like to first wish you a happy Easter weekend. I have many friends who will be celebrating Easter, and I hope their celebration will help them find a renewal of their faith and give them a sense of peace regardless of the struggles going on in their lives.

I have a great reverence for Easter as a holiday. It’s about forgiveness, or at least it should be**, as much as it’s about Jesus rising from the dead and giving hope to the rest of humanity.

Granted, hope is a very valuable thing, and can’t be underrated. But I’d rather talk about forgiveness, most especially self-forgiveness, as most of us aren’t too good at either thing.

Why? Because it’s easy to beat ourselves up, that’s why.

Someone who’s creative spends a lot of time thinking. Those of us who create have to do this; it’s part of the job description. Most of the time, thinking brings up all sorts of interesting ideas…but sometimes, thinking brings up stuff we’d rather not admit to, including our faults and how we can’t seem to get past them for all our trying. And that leads to guilt, fear, and self-abnegation, among other not-so-nice things…if you’re anything like me, sometimes you get into a spiral that you can’t seem to get out of, and it can be very hard to remember that you’re human and are going to make mistakes.

What is it about mistakes, anyway? Why can’t we forgive ourselves for making them, but we’ll forgive our friends, our family, or even our world leaders for their mistakes?

Yet if we believe in something beyond ourselves, we should try to remember that we’re here to learn. And you can’t learn without making mistakes.

Why not? It’s impossible; if we always did things right the first time, what would be the impetus to learn a different, potentially better, way?

So, if you believe in any sort of Higher Power, one of the things you need to remember is to forgive yourself once in a while.

It’s very hard to do. (Much harder to do than to say, and it’s not that easy to say, either.) But it’s essential, or you can’t grow as a human being.

So, this Easter weekend, try to remember to give yourself a break now and again as you work on your trespasses…including your trespasses against yourself. (OK?)

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**Jesus more or less forgave everyone after he rose from the dead, including those who betrayed him (some unwitting, some not). If he could still love those who hated him, and who’d betrayed him, I think we all can try to do the same. (No, it’s not easy. Yes, it will take time. But yes, you should try, regardless of what actual faith you profess, including atheism. It may make you a less angry person, more forgiving, and more able to see joy…and we all should want that whether we admit to it or not.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 13, 2017 at 7:20 pm