Meyla Hooker

Educator, KIPP Houston High School

This conversation is closed.

Is there a framework for forgiving yourself?

I have met many people lately that often find it impossible to forgive themselves (for situations big and small). I once thought this was easy for me. When I delved deeper, however, it became apparent that I have the same issue. Would love your thoughts on this topic.

  • Nov 10 2011: I forgive myself, when I am ready to change, when I've learned the life lesson.
    It's not because I choose this way, it simply happens this way.
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    Nov 9 2011: The challenge of self-forgiveness is sometimes perspective. Think about what happens when you can't forgive yourself for something. It limits your ability to take that energy and focus it on something good and productive that can help others. Life is about perspective, not mistakes. Every perspective, as difficult as it they are, provides a valuable resource in life's journey. Perspective is a learning tool. Not letting go prevents you from moving ahead. At some point you need to let go and find closure. Perhaps the best way to do it, though hardly easy, is simply to say to yourself, 'I'm done beating myself up over this. I will not allow myself to dwell on it. The minute I start to dwell on it I promise myself to stop.' Forgiveness is no more selfish than meeting the daily requirements to eat. Forgiveness is nourishment for the soul.
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    Oct 28 2011: Hi Meyla,
    If you want to go even deeper, we can realize that if we want/need to forgive ourselves or others for something, we first had to blame or judge ourselves or them for something...yes?

    My framework or foundation, is first to realize that I am living a human life which is an exploration for me. I make the best decisions possible with the information I have at any given time, and the life adventure is about learning. I don't feel I need to blame or judge anyone, including myself, or ask anyone to take responsibility for my feelings or choices. It is called unconditional love, and in order to give it to others, I first give it to myself:>)
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      Nov 8 2011: My first TED reply goes to my favorite TED person: Hi Colleen! You start by "If you want to go even deeper ..." which is precisely what I love doing, because I seek the strongest foundation on which to stand, experience and speak. Good goin', girl!

      Your 2nd paragraph sets your foundation and clearly speaks your choices; how can anyone argue? But of course your point is to be helpfully responsive, not to invite argument, so I am 100% with you. I find your understanding to be so beautifully deep, no wonder you have such a glowing smile!
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        Nov 8 2011: John,
        I am truly honored to be the recipient of your first TED reply, and your kind words give me a wonderful boost to start the morning:>)

        You're right...I do not like to invite argument. I saw more than enough of that as a child, and as a wee little one, I decided NOT to invite arguments into my life. I believe we (humans) are all here to support each other in our life journey, and there is much much more to recognize in each other that is similar, rather than different. We simply cannot go deeper with anything when we are whirling around in silly verbal arguments in which people are trying to prove themselves "right"....in my humble perception:>)

        Thank you for recognizing that the smile comes from deep within...you've got a good one too BTW
        Welcome to TED:>)
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    Nov 8 2011: How important does one has to feel him/herself to not accept the notion of being wrong at some time.

    Even when it was harmful to someone or something it was inevitable from the way we were.

    If we’d knew better we’d done better. It’s the only way we get to know ourselves, and to improve our shortcomings .
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      Nov 8 2011: Good point Frans,
      I believe we usually function based on the information we have at any given time...as you say..."If we'd knew better we'd done better". We need to explore our "self" in order to recognize some of the underlying emotions to know more about ourselves and explore different information.

      Here's the hitch, in my perception:
      In order to explore the depth of ourselves, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. When we explore on a deep level, we may not like what we find there. It may bring up old memories and emotional wounds. Those who often blame themselves or others, do it because it is easier than allowing our "self" to be vulnerable to explore our "self". People are often wounded from past experiences, and blaming others is often a protective mechanism.

      In order to break the cycle of wounding/blaming we need to take small steps at first. Test the waters, so to speak. One needs to be ready to take the journey into "self", and the path may be challenging at times. However, for me, the adventure of exploring, and healing the wounds, is way too valuable to NOT consider.
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        Nov 8 2011: Colleen, all of your thoughts have been so helpful and have allowed me to reflect deeply. I am impressed, but not surprised, at the way this conversation has taken off. The TED community is impressive. THANK YOU!
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          Nov 8 2011: Dear Meyla,
          Thank you for the feedback, and I'm glad I can offer some ideas that may be helpful. The information I offer comes from my own experience of exploring my "self" over the years. Although it is sometimes challenging, it is also very empowering and beautiful to know that we do not need to carry the energy of regret, blame or shame. We can have peace and contentment in our own lives regardless of the past experiences. In fact, by recognizing all there is to explore with past experiences, we come out wiser and more in tune with our "self", by facing the challenge:>)

          My loving energy is with you in your quest Meyla:>)
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        Nov 8 2011: Colleen, I also believe - based on both observation and logic - that we tend to function based on the information we have ready access to at any given time.

        The hitch that I recognize is that we almost certainly have a "reactive mind" that stores past incidents of actual physical pain and diminished conscious awareness, plus recordings of emotional pain ... and when any of those gets restimulated, we tend to automatically react based more on previous incidents' information than on current situation's information. In other words, old memories and emotional wounds can color our choices without our understanding, and until we clear these old memories and emotional wounds, we are subject to doing things that we don't like and therefore tend to try to protect ourselves from by blaming others. At least, this is how I understand the way the mechanism functions.

        Like you, even knowing that facing the buried parts of ourselves is going to bring up pain, I choose to make myself vulnerable to briefly re-experiencing the pain in favor of being more fully my true self. In other words, the alternative sucks way worse. I am a part of universal consciousness, with a purpose of creating joy. The reactive mind gets in the way of that.
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          Nov 9 2011: John,
          I think we're saying the same thing regarding the "hitch"?
          I say..."we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable... It may bring up old memories and emotional wounds. Those who often blame themselves or others, do it because it is easier than allowing our "self" to be vulnerable to explore our "self". People are often wounded from past experiences, and blaming others is often a protective mechanism".

          The "hitch" you speak of... "is that we almost certainly have a "reactive mind" that stores past incidents of actual physical pain and diminished conscious awareness... recordings of emotional pain ... and when any of those gets restimulated, we tend to automatically react based more on previous incidents' information than on current situation's information...old memories and emotional wounds can color our choices without our understanding, and until we clear these old memories and emotional wounds, we are subject to doing things that we don't like and therefore tend to try to protect ourselves from by blaming others. At least, this is how I understand the way the mechanism functions".

          I percieve that we're saying something similar in different ways, and you expanded on the original thought. Sometimes, experiencing the pain is the best way to learn and grow, taking us to a deeper place in ourselves. Experiencing pain opening and honestly has brought me to a deeper level of empathy and compassion for myself and others. It is a big part of my "framework" for life, and I would never deny myself that process.
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        Nov 9 2011: To get from one place to another can take many steps but every journey we take starts with the first step.
        To change all fear into trust: "We need to make ourselves vulnarable." Put off our mask or armour to meet ourselves.
        Colleen its amazing how you picture all essentials to break down the false ego.

        Mahatma Gandhi: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
        Mark (8:35) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
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          Nov 9 2011: Frans,
          I have had some very good teachers to learn to break down the false ego, and refrain from wearing masks....a violent abusive father, cancer, degenerative disc dis-ease, and various other life challenges. My "final exam", in my humble opinion, was the near fatal head/brain injury. After being hooked up to life support systems, with tubes and wires connected to all parts of the body keeping the body alive, being in a child like state emotionally and physically dependant on others for very basic needs, kind of severs any attachment to the ego.

          My life experiences were (and continue to be) great opportunities to learn that ego and masks only serve to protect us from our "self". Anyone with any sense of "self" can easily "feel" the masks, and false ego, so what's the point? It's a waste of energy in my humble perception:>)
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      Nov 8 2011: Very practical, Frans. I like that!
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        Nov 9 2011: Thank you John.
        Some comment on your remark elsewhere.
        Everything is absolutely perfect exactly as it is, like your friend said.
        It means everything is in equilibrium.
        If one thing is pushed from the centre the complementary part is pushed as well into the opposite direction. Never do good so you will not create bad. Never doubt yourself put your trust in God for God is Good.
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      Nov 8 2011: Hi Frans... (and Welcome to TED there John !)

      I've enjoyed coming across many of your comments Frans... very insightful ! The first day I was on TED I was struck by the simplicity of your response to the "Who am I ?" question :

      " As I am, there's a current in the stream. "

      Beautiful !


      Here is something I read from Nietzsche, a long time ago...it helped free me from so much unnecessary guilt !

      “Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchcraft, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.”

      Self and other condemnation is always with respect to a standard, a conceptualization of a value. Only by the inward act of comparing the "given" to an "ideal", and finding the "given" to be lacking, or "missing the mark", can the feelings of guilt and resentment be created. But the "ideal" itself was created, and the act of comparison too !

      I am NOT suggesting that real harms do not occur ... but simply that so much of the guilt and resentment I carried was not only useless... it was self created, and often unecessary !

      I don't know... I just wanted to connect with you... to see if you had any thoughts on the Nietzsche quote...

      All the Best!
      Denis
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        Nov 8 2011: Thanks for the welcome, Denis! I've enjoyed and found value in many of your contributions to TED, and love your smile too. I suspect you wear it most of the time you are conscious!

        In response to the Nietzsche quote, I'm not convinced that the guilt was non-existent. I start by defining the key word, guilt. Per my computer dictionary, guilt is "a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation". So yes, the way I see it pretty much agrees with you: when we allow ourselves to consider that we have done something wrong or have failed in an obligation, the feeling becomes real and points us in a direction to resolve the wrongness or failure. And when our thoughts and subsequent actions follow that direction, we move toward resolution and dissolving the emotional charge. That's a good thing. Any other creation or use of guilt is indeed horribly burdensome, which is worse than unnecessary.

        All the best 2,
        John
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          Nov 8 2011: Yeah...Nietzsche's position does seem to be a dangerous extreme ...but he often provokes, and I believe with the intention of inducing self reflection !

          When I do experience guilt, it is an opportunity for growth ... to reflect upon what value may be operative, what standard has conceptualized, and I ask myself if I still wish to live in accordence with that value (most of them having been assimilated in chilhood). If I do decide to maintain the value, then I will need to take the necessary actions to live in respect of it. My actions are thereby guided by chosen values, and rarely spring from a sense of obligation.

          BTW I read recently that the German word for guilt is "schuld" ! Rings a bell... doesn't it?

          And with respect to Nietzsche's example, he suggests in the Genealogy of Morals, that in the distant past, the rulers created the idea of personal responsibility in order to give themselves the right to punish, to hold individuals accountable, to find them guilty or praiseworthy, and in so doing, they often managed to hold the community together, and thereby maintained their power over the people. (Divide and Rule... in a psychological sense!)

          Hmmm... old habits die hard in our culture !

          Anyway... I hope you enjoy your TED-time as much as I do !

          All the best3 !
          Denis
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        Nov 9 2011: Hi Dennis, welcome.
        I very much appreciate your contribution too.
        You have a good use of words and a clear expression.

        Your remark about "schuld" (German/Dutch) is a nice one.
        The word is derived from the old Myths.
        Three Norns are three Goddesses of faith: Urd, Verdanda and Skuld. (Translated: Origin, Becoming, Guilt.) Those three are spinning our life's thread.
        (Action, reaction, result) It's a pity we've last those stories.

        On Nietzsche, you explained it yourself. We are conditioned to behave in certain ways and made to feel guilty not to comply to it. Some people use it to manipulate other people that one you've mentioned too.

        I hope you will stay a while.
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          Nov 10 2011: Well Thank You too Frans...

          I absolutely adore the wisdom symbolized in ALL of our mythologies! I am definitely looking forward to reading the one you have mentioned...

          As to staying for awhile... its feeling that way right now !

          I was delighted to discover such heart-centered people on here... I really didn't expect it !

          Anyway Frans... its good to get to know you, through this very strange medium !

          See you again!
          Denis
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        Nov 10 2011: just a comment on Nietzsche, Most people I run into don't realize he said,"That which doesn't kill us make us stronger." My mom used to say that to me all the time. I finally asked which chapter of the bible did that come from, she looked kinda funny at me and said she wasn't sure but it was in there somewhere and that I needed to read some more till I found it. Lol
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    Nov 3 2011: I think the most important part of the framework would be in realizing that like other people, you are simply human and that in spite of your best efforts we all fail and make mistakes. Learning to forgive oneself is a journey but the obstacles to self forgiveness are often rooted in a disproportionate super ego. That is the inner voice that comes from harsh parenting or authority figures which was absorbed to become part of yourself. You have to challenge that inner voice and its sources. Everyone- including youself- deserves forgiveness. Without it you can never achieve the good you might achieve. It can make you so afraid of making a mistake or of failing that you never step up and try again.
    I wish you love and kindness.
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    Nov 2 2011: A very interesting question.
    Acceptance is something which I found very useful when I am judging myself harshly.
    Then understanding my limits or my choices and why I made it. Sometimes I could have made different choices and sometimes I could not ...
    And being ok with it. That takes time for me.
    And letting go...

    It is an inner battle always :)
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    Nov 8 2011: Perhaps when we have so many images of who we "should be" built up all around us like billboards (for me: how a respectable woman should behave; being a good daughter; a progressive teacher / role model; healthy person; upstanding member of society etc.), it is so much work to keep up. Then, when we inevitably slip up and do something "not worthy", it seems to make us feel like we have denigrated all our efforts and the efforts of those who believe in us.

    I'm not saying that being the opposite of those roles is our true essence that we're hiding from. I think for me, I haven't been ashamed of anything in a long time, especially since I started taking on roles and doing things in life that I truly endorse or care about. Then, nothing really bad comes of it. I notice that everything is a either a blessing or a blessing in disguise. Every moment is just a learning experience. I think, when we are roped into doing and being things we don't want, falling out of line there makes us feel the fear of unknown consequences because we don't really, ultimately know what we're doing there. And we can't forgive ourselves as a result.

    Make sure you're doing what you love, I guess. There will be no shame. There will be no mistake.
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      Nov 8 2011: Agreed, after thinking it over. After having so many "shoulds" imposed on me for most of my life, and "working hard" to comply, a very tired me gave up and decided on your far-more-practical approach: doing and endorsing things I care about.

      At this moment, I care about your final paragraph very much. I have been suspended from my job for doing something that I love: playing with kids. I am a school bus driver. One of my young riders unfortunately misinterpreted one of my playful actions, said something to her parents, and now all the "authorities" are involved in sorting it out. My shame is in not having perceived that my action could be taken in any way other than playful and loving. I would say that I definitely made a mistake. Is this indeed a blessing in disguise? Of course. But I am still unsure of what that blessing is, but I am still learning.
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        Nov 8 2011: I think your situation requires a lot of self-knowledge or soul-searching to know if your actions were out of love, or out of something else. Certainly, because children are the most vulnerable group in our society, there are huge "shoulds" and "should nots" when it comes to dealing with them. I believe you when you say that you love kids because waking up every morning to do your job for many years (?) absolutely requires it.

        But, loving kids could also mean really learning about their plight in society, in the world. Why do we have such a tough attitude in protecting them? Orphans are squandered off and harvested / raped; their obedience and dexterity are exploited for chocolate, coffee and diamond production for us in the west; their psychological well-being is sacrificed for the passing sexual pleasure of the uncaring etc. All those authorities you speak of, by asserting themselves on you are both upholding this universal (over-)protection of children, but at the same time, are masking their own shame themselves. They are punishing you, to some extent to redeem some negligence, abuse; profit they have made off kids. Nobody is perfect.

        I guess just be careful that you don't do the same.
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          Nov 9 2011: Thank you Genevieve for your thoughts and guesses. I DO have a lot of self-knowledge, and truly love soul-searching ... in fact if you ask my wife, she'll probably tell you I do WAY too much of it! And I don't even have the slightest shadow of a doubt that my actions were out of love.

          But yes, I understand the over-protectiveness syndrome that I have gotten hit with. It is a reaction to pain that was previously experienced, and projected onto me, by both parents and child who truly don't know me. I love that the parents want to protect their child, and forgive them their refusal to believe me because I know they are misemotional.

          You are correct in realizing that such people are likely "masking their own shame" to some degree ... otherwise I would have been confronted with more openness, no profanity, and less readiness to engage in physical violence. Such confrontation has - thankfully - been extremely rare in my long experience this lifetime. There really isn't any need for it; I simply don't do violence ... even though I am being accused of it now.

          The tough part for me is that it may cost me a job I dearly love. I love interacting with kids, always have. I've also found everyone at the bus company to be wonderfully human and supportive, and I feel really bad to have done this to them. If the higher-ups at the bus company allow me to keep working, I have already chosen new ways to accomplish what I was hoping to accomplish with my playfulness. The new ways are very much in line with company procedures, so I have high confidence they'll work.

          My wife feels a very strong need to continually caution me to be careful. She's very sensitive, and has taught me a lot in our 5+ years together (2nd marriage for both of us). My nature is more exuberant than hers, partly because I am "blessed" with a much greater physical skills and a higher pain tolerance. Thus I take more risks, and have more fun; but I do appreciate the caring in messages to be careful.
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        Nov 9 2011: Wow... John... when I chatted with you before I had no idea that you were going through such an ordeal.

        Assuming your innocence(and I will), may I make a few suggestions:

        The exposure to the interrogation of your peers and authorities can be a very painful process. Once your reputation, and all the kind acts that you have done, are suddenly drawn into question, and you live in the fear of being ostricized by your community... you will need to have people close to you who absolutely trust your interpretation of events. If you do not have the support of loved ones, I would suggest that you seek professional assistence... a place to talk, and explore the torrents of emotion which may pass through you. Above all ... do NOT lie to the authorities or fabricate any details. These people are simply doing, what "we the people", want them to do... to serve and protect. In the end, your reputation may be cleared, and that dark cloud of suspicion might dissipate.

        Either way John... you need to ACCEPT what is occurring is
        for the best... and that's never easy.

        All the best4,
        Denis

        P.S. Having re-read the posting above, it certainly sounds like you have the right attitude!
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          Nov 9 2011: Thanks Denis. Of course you had no idea of my "ordeal", because it didn't seem germane to what you & I were conversing about so I didn't bring it up. But now here we are, and it does seem germane to the original topic, so I will continue.

          Let's talk about the "torrents of emotion which may pass through" me. I would say I have experienced 3 basic emotions that aren't particularly good: confusion, hurt and fear. The confusion occurred during and following the initial confrontation. The hurt happened when I saw tears in the eyes of the young girl, tears that hadn't been there during nor immediately following my interaction with her, tears that I never intended to cause. And the fear happened in my boss's office when she told me "this is deep, and could be grounds for termination".

          I have always been wary of emotions, mostly because I have encountered so much mis-emotion in my life. And until recently, my understanding of emotions was really poor. Now, I have a pretty clear picture of what they are, how they arise, and what their true purpose is. And I do welcome genuine emotions that fit real situations. Thus, I have accepted these 3 torrents of emotion, and I am very much letting them point out directions for improved thinking. It's pretty cool, especially since this approach allows me to share honestly with anyone who cares.

          I spoke with a professional the very next day. He was fantastic! He let me own my feelings. He told me that he could see that my heart was clearly in the right place, and that the outcome would be good for all as a result. He will be one of the 1st people I tell of "the verdict" when it does come down.

          Your "above all" caution is spot-on. I have not lied nor fabricated anything, nor will I. At my boss's suggestion, I wrote out a full report of the incident as it happened to me. It took 4 pages, and it relieved my confusions. The hurt remains, as does the fear, but those are not overpowering. I accept them.

          Again, thanks!
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        Nov 9 2011: John...

        You may want to speak to a lawyer before opening up in this very public forum...k? I don't want to discourage you from processing your feelings in whatever manner you see fit... but you also need to tread very carefully around this matter...there is a lot at stake...K?

        Take care of yourSelf !
        Denis
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          Nov 9 2011: Point taken.

          Update: the company does regret having to let me go, but it is done. I wish all the best for the family that experienced this unnecessary trauma, and I am off to interview for another job.

          Is my emotional processing complete? Not quite. I still find myself thinking and feeling about it, but I'm OK with moving on too.
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        Nov 14 2011: John, here is the chance to give my support. You have to live with the truth that is contained in your heart. If you are innocent, you are a victim of the trend of "political correctness" that seems to have a sterilizing effect on our ability to freely express our emotions. The upheaval in your life may be the ferment of an excellent wine. Kissing on the mouth between family members, even good friends is part of everyday life in places where people don't think it is a sin.
        Outcome of the whole affair may be out of your hands now.
        Except for what you say, and that your words will find the right ears.
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          Nov 14 2011: Thanks for your support, Laszlo. I am moving on, and not "sterilizing" myself with the "political correctness" that required my employer to terminate me. It's far more important to me, to keep on expressing me ... and I remain confident that is best for all those whose lives I touch as well.

          I have already interviewed with another company, and begin my training tomorrow. Why did they like me? Because I was willing to express my emotions, which led them to believe in my authenticity.

          Bringing this back onto the conversation topic, my framework for forgiveness has served me quite well here. I understand the company's position; they need to be viewed as politically correct or they stand to lose business ... and thus, it is easy for me to forgive them. I understand that the family who still insists that I harmed them, is still in need of a willingness to examine the truth of what actually happened ... and when they are emotionally calm enough to do so, they will grow (and perhaps at that time our paths will cross, and more appropriate emotions will be expressed, and peace will reign between us).

          I harbor no ill will in any of this. My life is moving in the right direction.

          Smiles,

          John
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    Nov 6 2011: Hi Meyla...from my experience, NOT forgiving myself was a form of punishment. Somehow I deserved the pain and suffering...I wasn't worthy of being forgiven. It's terribly sad but was true.

    Since that time I focused on loving mySELF...it was a process (that still happens today) but I spent a good couple of years passionately focusing on healing my pain because I did NOT want to repeat the patterns that were continuing to show up in my life.These patterns created more situations that fed the belief that I was a bad person...and didn't deserve to be forgiven, loved, nurtured or honoured/validated. By processing that pain...really seeking to UNDERSTAND it, I began to slowly heal. When I healed it was only then I could find self love. Once I found self love, I was able to forgive myself.

    This all took time, but ultimately YOU ARE WORTH IT.

    I hope that's helpful.

    With a smile,
    Tina
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      Nov 9 2011: Well done, Tina! Your sharing should be inspirational.
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        Nov 9 2011: Thank you John....

        "What comes from the heart, touches the heart"

        One of my favorite quotes....

        Hope you are have a JOY-full day!
        With a smile,
        Tina
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    Oct 29 2011: Realize, that putting myself down is a useless exercise. If I mess up, corrections are called for, not punishment and unending penance. I can't keep on messing up, it will not be tolerated. Admit my mistake and get on with it.
  • Oct 28 2011: Wow! What a thought! A framework for forgiving yourself...

    My first thought is to admit you are human and humans make mistakes. Judgement, quality, bad life choices, etc. we all make mistakes. My next step is to then see if i can correct it. Restitution, apology, amends if possible. If the mistake was large, then my next action is to get through the next week, focusing on each day and trying to fill each day with work that causes me to lose myself. At the end of the week, forgiving myself is a more manageable task. I also try and do things with family. They usually know something is wrong, but by virtue of their love and companionship, seem to help me through tough times. Sometimes I walk on the beach, or in the mountains where I can here water and sort of realize how small my problems are in the grand scheme of things. Then I try an analyze why I feel guilty or need to forgive myself, break it down into parts and think how I might have reacted differently or acted differently in a given situation. Usually this discretization makes me realize there were several contributing factors, not all of which were in my control and usually not all of which were relative tot he situation causing the guilt. After I figure it all out, then I apply the serenity prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Although I am not very religious, it seems like good advice. Then I move on with life.Maybe its fishing, Maybe its golf, maybe its going garage-saling with the wife. Do not let the past spoil the present.

    You might also seek council with any living parents or grandparents, particularly fathers and grandfathers. By the time they have reached that age, most are pretty good at forgiving themselves. It is a survival instinct. They also usually know just what to say or do to help children or grandchildren get past a problem...even if it is with a song and a few peppermint patties
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    Nov 14 2011: Offense, Regret, Positive Action, Authority, Time.

    Sometimes the authority to forgive doesn't lie with us, but in most cases it will. If we use the principle of judging ourselves like we judge others, we may have to adjust our view of ourselves and others.

    Lastly in a universal sense, I like the Principle the Prophet Jesus told one of his diciples, 'we should forgive others 7 times 77 times.' This was an indication that our propensity to forgive a repentant person should be unlimited. By setting this standard he obligated himself to follow it.
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      Nov 14 2011: That Jesus had it pretty together, didn't he?! Excellent points, Jon.
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    Nov 13 2011: A very important aspect of forgiveness is repentance, and for me at least it has been *the* framework to follow. Although I am not a religious believer, I find the biblical linking of forgiveness with repentance compelling, and enlightnening to the question at hand.

    If forgiveness is nothing more than a sentiment of "I'm sorry," and/or a recognition of our human frailities, it is very easy to do but possesses little power. However, if one realizes that forgiveness is nothing without repentance -- an actual changing of ways -- then we realize just how difficult and profound an act it is.

    Unless and until one is willing to confront the motive(s) behind their transgressions, real forgiveness isn't really possible, either forgiveness of themselves or forgiveness from others. If someone is having difficulty forgiving themselves, it may be because they realize they need to change at some fundamental level, and they know full well what a profound and challenging thing that is to do.
  • Nov 13 2011: Such a good question, I know I struggle with the same. I'm not sure if you are religious, so my answer might be useless.... I consider the fact that God forgives. (Everyone) If God already forgave me.. then I am forgiven, and if I don't forgive myself (and others) I am placing myself above God. This only makes sense if you are of a religion though.
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      Nov 14 2011: Anna,

      Thanks for joining in. "Religious" viewpoints certainly have widespread validity, and tend to line up well with - what I see as - broader "spiritual" viewpoints. Tony recognizes the wisdom of linking repentance with forgiveness, which restores greater power to the forgiver. He knows this wisdom is expressed in the Bible, and credits that while stating he is "not a religious believer". I understand that viewpoint well, as I consider myself more spiritual than "religious".

      As a spiritual person, I recognize God as "ultimate simultaneous consciousness" rather than "Lord". And as we expand our individual parts of consciousness, we move toward the unity that IS God, and IS forgiving ... which is only slightly different from your viewpoint, and thus I do not see your answer as "useless".
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    Nov 11 2011: Hello, I wrote an article on FORGIVENESS and would love to share it with you. However this space is too small to contain it. Here is a link where you can read it fully. http://my.opera.com/graceland09/blog/
    I believe the feeling/ desire to forgive ourselves or others is inherent to our brokenness, the bedrock of humankind. It just comes with Living. Yet, it seems that we have not LIVED until we learn to forgive. We can only truly forgive in light of a deep-seated knowing that we are accepted and loved beyond our own capacity/ ability to Love ourselves or another human being. I pray this will bring to you as much healing as it did for me while I wrote this, from the fruit of my own search and experience. Feel free to share it with others. There's a French version of that article as well on the blog.Blessings to you, Carole
  • Nov 10 2011: discussion is always helpful john :-) I'm also not interested who's 'right' because this would turn into an over-intellectual discussion with no other result then taking us further out of the moment (the now).

    i only wanted to contribute to this discussion (and hopefully to others as well) that when taking the feeling as the entry point, lots and lots of the need for problem solving type-of-thinking just seems to melt away together with the triggering problem .. i have to practice this myself much more to get it deeper into my system but i could not resist sharing the thought here ..
    best regards
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      Nov 14 2011: Arjan, I am so glad you did not resist sharing your thoughts here. "Taking the feeling as the entry point" is indeed worth more conscious practice.

      Best regards back to you!
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    Nov 10 2011: one has to understand guilt and the way our egos use guilt to control our actions. once your aware of the dynamics of those forces within you, you become aware of the fact you don't need forgiveness because guilt has lost it's power to control you.
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      Nov 10 2011: Excellent point Brian,
      To seek forgiveness for/from ourselves or others, we must feel guilty about something. I agree that guilt CAN control and change the dynamics of our behaviors. Understanding our need to hold onto the guilt, or expect others to feel guilty, is an important factor, and very intertwined with understanding and needing forgiveness. Not only does guilt control us, but in expecting others to feel guilty because of his/her actions or words, we are trying to control him/her as well. Thanks for that simple and well articulated comment:>)
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    Nov 10 2011: Meyla,

    Just after commenting here on your Q, I saw this essay. It is a poignant and powerful example of what I was trying to get at. And, for me a timely reminder there is hope:

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/on-war-and-redemption/?ref=opinion

    This soldier is a stellar example of expressing self-insight and attempting to address hurt he has engaged by publicly addressing the complicated humanity, his and others, caught up in actions he was involved in.

    Andrea
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      Nov 10 2011: WOW! Thank you for this article. It demonstrates that even those of us who hate war need to have compassion for the torn and wounded souls of soldiers who are not automatons after all- just men caught in a societal insanity. I have pasted the final poigniant paragraph here.

      "After coming home, our commanders told us we earned glory for our unit, but I know it’s more complicated than that. War has little to do with glory and everything to do with hard work and survival. It’s about keeping your goodness amid the evil. But no matter what happens, you never work hard enough, people die and evil touches everyone. Our lives will go on but the war will never go away. That’s why it’s not simply good to be back. I thought my war was over, but it followed me. It followed all of us. We returned only to find that it was waiting here the entire time and will always be with us."
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        Nov 10 2011: Debra--

        Following your lead, I'm pasting part of the essay that spoke to me. That relate to Timothy's attempts to stay with and in relationship to the exquisitely difficult lessons, somehow:

        "With six months left on our deployment I had no choice but to move on. I told myself we did what we were trained to do and that it just ended badly. I stuck with that reasoning despite feeling terrible and soon, my emotions caught up to my logic. People say they can remember a traumatic incident like it was yesterday. I can’t. Since my return, Afghanistan has melted into a feeling more than a memory.

        But I do remember the widows and orphans and wailing families and the faces of two men on a motorcycle. They understood they were being killed as it happened, yet they couldn’t accept their fate. They died painfully. Their teeth clenched and grimacing.Their eyes open. Those eyes gave them a final pleading expression. Why did you kill us?

        Back in the United States, I look at people and think: 'You have no idea what right and wrong are.' Much that I once held as matters of conscience is now just custom or culture. The challenging thing about ethics is you have to figure them out for yourself."

        Andrea
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          Nov 10 2011: It is utterly great ,Andrea , that you shared this here. People are busy and I find many do not have the time to search out even the great links that are provided but they might be enriched by an excerpt pasted here that encapsulates the message.

          There is a Christian expression that goes something like "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Does that fact make us terrible human beings or just wounded souls trying to make it through life in the best way we can? Forgiving ourselves for being frail and imperfect even when we have caused pain allows us to move on and do more and better to create a better world.

          I wish we could hug everyone who needs it and give a peaceful sleep to tortured souls. I wish we could find a way to end the war that every individual is fighting in their own way.
  • Nov 9 2011: i would argue that there are things a person should not forgive themselves for. to do so would essentially be lying to yourself. i know regret is to many people something to be purged, but regret serves a very useful purpose in that it makes us strive to do better. without it we are prone to continue wronging people in the same way, which hurts our relationships, since we would have no buffer against when we are wronged by others.

    in short, forgiving yourself is not only unnecessary but undesirable.
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    Nov 8 2011: Oooh, good question Meyla.

    We are human, therefore we are not perfect-that is something I have learned in life and even in genetics class. Did you know we even have these 'fix-it' genese built into our DNA? Yep, we were born with our own 'fixing machine' inside of us, if that doesn't tell us we are prone to mistakes, I don't know what does.

    But I digress.

    I think one important way to 'forigive' ourselves is to commit to changing. Commit to not making the same mistakes. Commit to doing something different, something that will lead you to the path of respect and honor.

    That forgiveness may include asking for forgiveness from others we have wronged, or maybe, if that is not possible, just doing what I said above.

    Recognize the mistake.
    Own it.
    Change so that it never happens again.
    Know that when you have taken those steps, you are on your way to a you who you can respect.

    :-)
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      Nov 9 2011: You are so right, Estela! Everything you shared is excellent, and helps to produce excellence ... even your digression ;-)
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    Nov 8 2011: Some things I guess are just unforgivable ... I found out in the last few months that I'm capable of treason and it seemed that I can forgive myself for doing it. Here's how it turned out ...
    I wasn't able to live with the thought.
    I had trouble sleeping for about a week.
    I resolved the issue in the best possible (for me) way.
    I no longer have doubts that I made the right decision (by letting go of the impossible).
    I still have nagging thought from time to time about letting the people down and disregarding my promise.

    And here's what it adds up to: You can only hope to salvage things in the best possible way once they've gone terribly wrong. The silver lining is that you get to know your very own self better and face what you'd never thought you'd experience. :)
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      Nov 8 2011: Wow! Your honesty and resilience are inspiring, Silvia. Thanks for sharing this. I have also committed treason, followed the same basic process, and pretty much come to the same conclusion ... but not quite.

      The nagging thoughts point to the incomplete resolution. The accompanying feelings are uneasy, and thus the resulting emotion will keep sticking up its little hand and letting you know that it's still there. There's something that you still don't understand. To resolve this, I have used the Ethics Conditions formulas of L. Ron Hubbard, which are not yet in wide use in our society. I will write more about this if you are interested.

      The other thing that helps me is knowing that ultimately, each of us is a part of God = universal consciousness, yet as humans our consciousness is necessarily quite limited ... and thus our actions always have the potential of being considered wrong, treasonous, etc. Ultimately, I know my heart is pure because it is based in God. God understands and forgives, even when any of us does not understand well enough yet to allow full forgiveness. Hence, we seek to go on living, learning and expanding our conscious understandings ... despite having caused painful experiences that we had no real intention to create.

      Stay strong. We are all capable of treason, but we are also capable of learning, helping and forgiving. I believe in you.
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        Nov 9 2011: Thank you, John! I would appreciate it if you could share some of the Ethics Conditions formulas so that I can get to know them. :) I don't know if what I did was totally right but I feel much better now that the matter is resolved without serious consequences.
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          Nov 10 2011: Oh goodie, Silvia, you want to know them! That delights me!

          First, a list of the conditions, in descending order:
          Power
          Power Change
          Affluence
          Normal Operation
          Emergency
          Danger
          Non-Existence
          Liability
          Doubt
          Enemy
          Treason
          Confusion

          Now, the - simplified - formulas, in ascending order:

          Confusion - Find Out Where You Are
          Treason - Find out That You Are
          Enemy - Find Out Who You Really Are
          Doubt - 1. Inform oneself honestly of the actual intentions and activities of that group, project or organization, brushing aside all bias and rumor
          2. Examine the statistics of the individual, group, project or organization
          3. Decide on the basis of "the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics" whether or not it should be attacked, harmed or suppressed or helped
          4. Evaluate oneself or one's own group, project or organization as to intentions and objectives
          5. Evaluate one's own or one's group, project or organization's statistics
          6. Join or remain in or befriend the one which progresses toward the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics and announce the fact publicly to both sides
          7. Do everything possible to improve the actions and statistics of the person, group, project or organization one has remained in or joined
          8. Suffer on up through the conditions in the new group if one has changed sides, or the conditions of the group one has remained in if wavering from it has lowered one's status.

          There's more, but not enough characters to complete. Will continue in a bit, unless you find all this overwhelming. I admit it is quite thorough, but I have applied these formulas many times and really felt full closure each time I did them. Note: yes, I usually dropped all the way down to confusion before finally facing my real situation. Damn embarassing, yes?
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          Nov 10 2011: Continuing my reply re: ethics conditions formulas of L. Ron Hubbard.

          Liability - 1. Decide who are one's friends
          2. Deliver an effective blow to the enemies of the group one has been pretending to be part of despite personal danger
          3. Make up the damage one has done by personal contribution far beyond the ordinary demands of a group member
          4. Apply for re-entry to the group by asking permission of each member of it to rejoin and rejoining only by majority permission, and if refused, repeating (2) and (3) and (4) until one is allowed to be a group member again.
          Non-Existence - 1. Find and get yourself on every communication line you will need in order to give and obtain information relating to your duties and materiel
          2. Make yourself known, along with your post title and duties, to every terminal you will need for the obtaining of information and the giving of data
          3. Discover from your seniors and fellow staff members and any public your duties may require you to contact, what is needed and wanted from each
          4. Do, produce and present what each needs and wants that is in conformation with policy
          5. Maintain your communication lines that you have and expand them to obtain other information you now find you need on a routine basis
          6. Maintain your origination lines to inform others what you are doing exactly, but only those who actually need the information
          7. Streamline what you are doing, producing and presenting so that it is more closely what is really needed and wanted
          8. With full information being given and received concerning your products, do, produce and present a greatly improved product routinely on your post.

          Damn, that's a long one, and it only gets you started. I'm applying Non-Existence right now to a new business. Next, one moves up to Danger ... can you believe that?!! If you don't get it, start looking for words you don't fully understand.

          'nuff for now,

          John
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      Nov 9 2011: The world is a nicer place for having you in it Silvia!
      We all make mistakes. By characterizing what ever you did as treason, you are elevating it to some sort of public or capitally punishable crime and you and your sweet loving spirit do not deserve that- no one does. You can feel great pain for any pain you have caused just because you have a conscience but you can not let it endure forever. That doesn't mean that you do not remember what happened or learn from it but it does mean that you transmute the desire to punish yourself or be punished into better actions in the future and maybe even some attempt at restitution. Anything else is wasted energy and wasted love.
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    Nov 8 2011: A confessional made of wood, metal or any other construction material.
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    Nov 8 2011: Before we can forgive ourself we have to blame or condemn ourself.

    If we don't blame or condemn ourselves, forgiveness is not necessary.

    "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." - Luke 6:37

    [I am not religious ... I just like scripture.]
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    Nov 8 2011: From my own personal expiriance- anderstanding.
    anderstanding owerselves, what we felt then.. what we knew then...
    anderstanding helps us forgive. Can not do without.
    Best Luck, Hagit
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    Nov 8 2011: My dictionary defines "forgiveness" as "stopping feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake". So the question then becomes: how long do you need to keep feeling anger or resentment?

    Whatever the offense, flaw or mistake that brought about the anger or resentment, it cannot be any greater than you, for you are a part of God having a human experience. Thus, feeling the anger or resentment is merely a temporary thing that points toward the need for your greater understanding. Accept the feelings on that basis, examine your motives and choices, and learn. The sooner you do that - with or without the help of others - the sooner the anger or resentment go away and you return to a place of peace within yourself.

    When you know you are a part of God, forgiving yourself is easy ... and that IS the deepest part of you. I suspect that when you "delved deeper" you got stuck somewhere in your subconscious or reactive mind, and didn't yet reach the deepest part of you. Keep learning, as you keep educating!
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      Nov 8 2011: John,
      You ask an important question..."how long do you need to keep feeling anger or resentment?" The feeling of anger, resentment or blame toward ourselves or others is ours to hold onto as long as we want, and it is a choice huh? To go deeper, we could ask the question...how does it serve us to hold onto those feelings? Do we feel that we don't deserve forgivness? Do we need to punish ourselves? Was the "flaw" or "mistake" so bad that we can never forgive ourselves or others? Asking the questions of our "self", often reveals information that CAN cause the feeling to be "merely a temporary thing that points toward the need for your greater understanding", as you so insightfully say.

      The challenge arises, when in an effort to go deeper with an exploration, people go deeper into blaming themselves, rather than using it as an opportunity to learn and grow in themselves. They often get "stuck" in the blaming, rather than actually moving deeper with understanding. Same information...different process and intent. As you say, we can accept the feelings, and learn by examining motives and choices. Know thyself:>)
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    Nov 8 2011: Hi Meyla !

    Wow...did this conversation ever take off! Great question!

    BTW...it was a friend's suggestion to watch the Brene Brown video, that brought me to TED in the first place.

    The willingness to be vulnerable is certainly a requirement for self-forgiveness. Each of us have aspects of ourselves which we would rather not recognize, process, and integrate into our awareness... usually deep seated fear, grief, and anger...and more often than not, near the core...a sense of shame.

    Children who were emotionally abandoned or abused ( and the degree of harm does NOT matter), often have a difficult time later in life turning inwards, because that would mean re-awakening the pain that they have spent most of their lives trying to escape...the feeling that they are flawed as human beings, that they are un-lovable for who they are, and that what occurred in the past was their fault.

    Children who grow up in these difficult environments cannot conclude otherwise, because when the violations to Self occurred, they were often unable to name the dysfunctions that were happening. They had nothing with which to compare their given reality, and so didn't realize how dysfunctional it actually was. And even if they could see it, or name it...they were so totally dependent on their primary care-givers, who often themselves had un-resolved childhood wounds, they would not dare speak up and claim that something was seriously out of wack ! In a sense, the child is trapped and falsely concludes, its his or her fault.

    Until these deeper wounds are healed, by exposing them to oneself and another loving person, the chance of genuine self-forgiveness is next to nil. In other words, as long as I am in condemnation of my self or another, the deeper wound is still trying to heal.

    I don't know if this will be of help to you Meyla, or if it can even be considered a framework.

    But I hope the willingness to turn inward and heal is already active in you!

    Take care of your true Self !
    Denis
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      Nov 9 2011: A worthy contribution, Don. Thank you.
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      Nov 9 2011: Hi Don,
      I've tried to find out what "TGAA" stands for.

      Trying Google I found several options:
      1) "Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies"
      2) "Texas General Arbitration Act"
      3) "Tournament Golf Association of America "
      4) "Turf Grass Association of Australia"
      5) "Tall Grass Arts Association"
      6) "Trade and Globalization Assistance Act"
      7) "Transgendered in Adelaide, Australia"
      8) "Trap Ground Allotment Association"

      which one is perfect?
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          Nov 12 2011: Don, I'm glad it wasn't the transgedered in Adelaide.

          Your passion: "This is the underlying truth of all ancient beliefs which says overcome Vice with Virtue."

          As one lives by the heart doesn't one always act to his/her ability.

          As understanding grows virtue grows naturally. Virtue isn’t what has to be done but what one has become. If we know and see in the other, in nature another expression of your TGAA we can’t deny our love.

          Does that make sense?
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          Nov 13 2011: Hi Don,
          If you look back at point 7 of the findings from Google on GTAA you see where that "TransGendered AA" came from. This sure is perfect on it's own merits but not what you refered to.

          I know about Freemasonry. I've no questions about it.

          I made a remark about acting without doing.
          Being just the instrument in the hands of GTAA.

          I hope I made myself more clear.
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      Nov 13 2011: QUOTE: "We are never as perfect as TGAA and that is OK. Our passion and fear will remain with us to keep us fully alive and that is good."

      If we strive for perfection, we shall never achieve it. If we look to discover whether perfection is present or not, we may discover it (or not.) And we may be closer than we think.

      The definition of "perfection" that I absorbed growing up was something along the lines of: "Without blemish or fault, flawless."

      Trying to live up to that ideal (which I did try to do for a while in my youth) is doomed to failure.

      Then, somewhere along the way, a wise friend, quite independently, offered this definition of perfection:

      "Everything in its proper place."

      I found that to be quite liberating.

      With that as an objective - everything in its proper place - we might actually be able to reach the lofty heights contained in such admonishments as:

      Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:48
  • Nov 7 2011: Good question Meyla. For me iits recognizing we humans sometimes err; we are not omniscient or perfect. However, if we have a concept we are valuable on High, then we are confident of who we are regardless of mistakes. A really bad error may take some time for healing, but a genuine desire to move God-ward can be a powerful force with love in reaching for a better life. We do err, but hey, so do a lot of people. We have to let some things go; Divinity does not intend we live driven by guilt. We can stand up with confidence we are children of a Paradise Parent who lives His children.
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      Nov 9 2011: Amen, and well spoken, Mark.

      I have a friend who insists that everything is absolutely perfect exactly as it is, and that anyone who doesn't realize that is misperceiving and misunderstanding. I love this friend, and accept that he may well be right ... however, I am one of the majority of humans who still misperceives and misunderstands some things, and thus I, like you, perceive mistakes and recognize the need for healing. Thankfully, there are many among us who also realize the truth of your words. "Divinity does not intend we live driven by guilt. We can stand up with confidence we are children of a Paradise Parent who lives His children."

      Again, amen.
  • Nov 7 2011: For me, the difference between 'having forgiven' end 'not having forgiven' is the associated emotions. When I have truly forgiven there is no need to push unpleasant feelings away when memories to the event (if it was an event) surface for some reason.

    The point with emotions is that they do not listen to logic and neither to reasoning. These actions of the thinking have (best-case) only the effect of covering up the emotion which may seem to work for that moment but only until too prudent memories to the issue surface..

    i experience lately that emotions respond best to being felt instead of being pushed away (because logic or judgment tells me that they are not appropriate)

    -So my first part of a framework is to establish that it is about emotions (not about logic or other kind of thinking)
    -the goal is to unwind or resolve these emotions
    For this to happen
    -i have found that it is important is to feel the emotions

    and by doing this i have learned that
    -Thinking usually doesn't help me feel (.. on the contrary if often takes me out of feeling)
    -not having Opinions/Judgment about the emotions does help the feeling

    i could say a lot more about it, but leave it with this for now
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      Nov 8 2011: OK arjan, I am giving you an opportunity to say more, particularly about emotions. Your observation that "emotions respond best to being felt instead of being pushed away" is a delight for me to read. One thing I learned only a couple years ago is that emotions are "made up of all kinds of thoughts and feelings" (Lazaris). I found this extremely helpful to understanding what I am observing in the emotional realm. And with this understanding, I interpret what you say about "it is about emotions (not about logic or other kind of thinking)" as: you seem to be emphasizing the feelings component of the emotion over the thinking component. And I suggest that while, yes, the key is to "unwind or resolve these emotions" by feeling the feelings, you cannot ignore the thinking component of the emotions. The thought can be looked at, re-evaluated and changed, and that is key to allowing the feeling to change. A better thought births a better feeling. So when you say "thinking usually doesn't help me feel" I would suggest instead that any thinking that leads you to feeling less - or feeling worse - is thinking that is indeed going in the wrong direction. In which case, yes, stop thinking and take a step backwards and look around you ... allow your thinking to go in a different direction. It will find a direction that feels better, and you're on your way! Thank you for inspiring me to share this here!
      • Nov 9 2011: actually john, where i learned this feeling stuff they say that ALL thinking is driven by emotion .. this is the other way around of what most people in the west believe and if this is true then you don't think your way out of this :-)
        to illustrate, a simple example seemingly contradicting this is this:
        suppose you're feeling annoyed because someone pushes you in the back in the street ..
        you turn around to respond appropriate and find that this someone is blind!!
        result: the annoyance vanishes!! because the blind cannot help it .. right?
        ->the thinkers say, you see .. thinking makes the emotions ... q.e.d.
        ->the feelers say: it were the emotions that made you assume that the push was out of carelessness or rudeness. these emotion was already there before the push, you could also be eg surprised when someone pushes you in the street.
        When you resolve the issues generating this latent emotion, the person will respond differently the next time he is pushed.. interesting .. right?
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          Nov 9 2011: OK, arjan, let's look at emotions some more. I am compelled to start with awareness, consciousness, because without consciousness neither thoughts nor feelings have any meaning nor effect. Consciousness is the source, as near or far as I can discern. Consciousness is our existence and our basic nature. And consciousness, for me, exists independent of time and space.

          Now for any action to occur, there must be a thought, and for any thought, there will be a feeling. Which comes first? Heck, I really don't know ... and I'm not sure it matters. What matters to me is that both thought and feeling interact, and that interaction is defined as emotion. Emotions are real, and they are attached to actions, and they serve to direct our thoughts and actions. But all of these are part of an ever-changing flow, and they come and go.

          I'm a guy, from Western culture. Thus one would conclude I have been influenced more by thoughts than by feelings, and people have tended to tell me that I am more of a thinker than a feeler. OK, but knowing what I know now, I conclude that I'm out of balance in this regard, and so I'm paying more conscious attention to the feelings that inevitably accompany my thoughts ... and that feels better. I achieve resolution more quickly and easily.

          I have no cause to argue with "the thinkers" nor "the feelers"; I simply thank them for their contributions to my better understanding of emotions in my life, allowing me to "right" my personal balance between the 2.

          Helpful?
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    Nov 6 2011: I'm not sure if there is a framework or formula, it's more of a process. I do know that getting to where I have self-forgiveness has been the most life changing undertaking of my life. When I finally was able to stop spending so much of my precious life energy feeling guilty and beating myself up as my method of self improvement, I found my life to be 1000% improved.

    I think I started by being willing to be willing to forgive myself, and made notes around my house to that effect. Books and experiences started floating into my life to support my intention. Then followed a true willingness to forgive myself, and then magically, mystically, it started to happen that I no longer looked at the world in black and white, right and wrong. I began recognizing that we are all here, including me, trying our best, working with whatever experiences we have collected. My life has so much more 'choice' in it now... much more than I ever used to think.
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    Nov 6 2011: I would contest that in fact people should NOT forgive themselves.

    If an individual does something that has serious negative consequences on himself or other people then feeling guilty is perfectly valid, reasonable, logic and natural response.

    The problem actually is not just feeling the guilt or regret but doing nothing about it and ending up just wanting to shut it down. To erase it.

    That. Is. Wrong.

    The other problem is overdoing it and getting paralyzed, emotionally and psychologically or even making the same mistake again.

    The answer is : be aware of this and take action. actually DO THINGS. Change your behaviour and make amends. Do something real instead of just pining about "feeling guilty" and constantly trying to find excuses and constantly trying to "forgive yourself" or, rather - attempt to forget it.

    Accept that you made a mistake. Do not hide from it.
    Then actually DO SOMETHING, as many times as it takes, regardless of how big or small that "something" is.

    You dont get a free pass. Its not forgotten or forgiven
    So do not forgive yourself. Do not forget.

    DO SOMETHING:
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        Nov 7 2011: Actually, i probably did put this too strongly but what i really wanted to say is that not going to extremes is the right way here, in a sense that one should not desperately try to put everything behind oneself completely nor completely drown in it.

        So the right "measure" would be to accept the guilt, if its coming from something real and substantial, not some event where you actually weren't at fault or in control of things that happened.
        Accept it, learn from it, change yourself in some way to prevent it happening in the future and most importantly do something to make amends.

        Sometimes the situation is gone, or people have gone and you cant make amends directly. Maybe you can do something for someone else in a similar event in another place. Anything is better than nothing.
        Doesnt really mater if you do something small one day, something bigger the next or nothing on other days.
        As long as you are doing something constantly.
        Physical, real acts in the real world, regardless of how directly they can influence the original cause of regret, or make amends to people affected by it or maybe some strangers that are in similar situation (for example), will create a sort of counterbalance, just by their numbers after a while.

        You will be able to come home and say "well i did something, im doing something. i did this and this and that."


        Of course its hard to speak about this in this generalized way, without knowing any specifics about each case.
        But such was the question.

        I think its much more healthier to accept the guilt, to regret something and do something about it rather than end up bouncing between extremes of all guilt and no action and forcing oneself to completely forget by making up excuses and saying how regret as a whole is meaningless and "guilt only drags you down", "let go" and whatnot.

        No. Why?
        Suffer a little if you deserve it. Regret regretful things.
        Its good for you. Thats how we are meant to work after all.
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      Nov 9 2011: Agreed, sinisa.

      I appreciate your clarification in your 2nd post. The message in your first post was a bit clouded by your assertion that we should not forgive ourselves, even though you explained well your thinking behind that assertion. Clearly, forgiving oneself without truly understanding what you are forgiving, is incomplete at best, and often a disservice, as Adriaan points out.
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    Nov 6 2011: Hi Meyla,
    What a beautiful question. I have to say, forgiving yourself is all about leaving it in the past. Regreting the past is wasting the present. Allow yourself to be forgiven. Know that we are not perfect, we make mistakes and the most important thing is that we LEARN from them. Leave the past where it belongs - in the past. All you have is NOW :)! Love it, Live it and make the most of it.
    I look forward to your progress ~ loving thoughts to you!!
    Jeni
    • Nov 7 2011: Jeni : Your A KEEPER ...!!! Do YOU Like CuddleFish ...??? ...
  • Nov 6 2011: I think there has to be a greater sense of self telling ourselves that these setbacks might mould one's character and personality, and it might be useful to think that thats' what makes us humans. Humans do make mistakes, in one way or another. But it would be good if we tell ourselves not to let these mistakes drown and suppress our inner voices, our real selves by having this conscious thought to frequently remind us of who we really are and these mistakes are external environmental factors that sharpen and hone our personality. But we never let these mistakes undermine our own sense of self worth and value. I think it is important to keep this in mind, not to say i love myself and the world comprises of only me. But i think we need to preserve our true selves, protect our real self well and nurture it by knowing how to protect ourselves. Making mistakes just only goes to show that we are humans. It is in fact good that mistakes are made because they point out certain aspects of behaviours, thinking or attitudes that might need some change or improvement. If the acts committed are not "right", then this serves as an opportunity to improve and change and to practise more consciousness in these areas. It leads us to understand ourselves better. It takes lots of courage, grace to face the reality and admit it. I think this act in itself is already moving towards betterment of oneself. To me, when one learns to forgive oneself, he or she might be better able to forgive others more easily because they have been through it once already and knows humans are never perfect and there are surrounding circumstances that might have caused the individual to behave in a certain manner.
  • Nov 1 2011: Actually turning into a cool complex question with the possibilities expanding out to past my abilities.
    Forgiving yourself should be similar to asking forgiveness from others. It involves admitting openly that 'a wrong' occurred. (was it really wrong? could it have been handled differently? etc is another issue). Then you ask for forgiveness. It doesn't matter if you get it. Then you make an attempt at restitution. Make some attempt to make it right. It frequently isn't possible to put things back but make the attempt...any attempt. It's a 'framework' that works for me.
  • Nov 1 2011: Sometimes I choose not to forgive; it is like I’m driven by some uncontrollable need to be right. I have been asking myself: is it my need to be right or is it some deep dark fear of being wrong? Everything in our world that elicits personal judgment is founded exclusively on our individual interpretation of the events we experience. When someone crosses that imaginary line between right and wrong, I sometimes feel compelled to stand in judgment of what was said, or was done “to me”. What would happen if suddenly my understanding of right and wrong, my values or beliefs were found to be developed on a shaky foundation? Understanding how debilitating the pain of not forgiving can be to you is the starting point of self forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice, a conscious decision and maybe more importantly a responsibility. Forgiveness is not to be carefully concealed by something that appears to be charity or conditional as in “I will forgive you if you do the following”. Forgiveness needs to be complete and when it is, it liberates you so you can be fully present in this moment. Once you acknowledge that attacking the problem only escalates it in our mind as we replay the offensive moment over and over again. From that stand point, forgiveness of another is self forgiveness and clears the mind to be more peaceful and present. People who forgive are often happier and healthier than those who hold on to debilitating resentments. All forgiveness is self forgiveness so forgive often and completely.
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    Nov 1 2011: Imagine trying to pull a train with rusty wheels...it is hard enough without the rusty wheels! almost impossible! however with a little grease, the impossible becomes possible. so in this case the heavy weight of the train is stupidity, carelessness, ignorance, etc. the grease is quiet calm meditation. the strength to pull the train comes from the heart. forgiveness comes from the heart, and the grease of meditation helps to ease the mind and strengthen the heart to move things big and small. when it finally moves such freedom and relief!
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    Oct 31 2011: I found "positive attitude" helpful in forgiving myself. This attitude allows me to think that behind whatever happened there is a lesson or a greater good. I think it's often the case that the bad things we did in the past make us better in the future. But only if we are willing to accept and commit, as Helena mentioned.
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    Oct 31 2011: Meyla, you ask a very pertinent question.

    For me, there are two things that are essential: Acceptance and commitment.

    It is sometimes very hard to accept what's so, the consequences of our actions; such as someone's death, for instance. We insist on wanting things to be different from what they are so we get stuck in the realm of 'what if...'
    Once acceptance is attained then we must commit, commit to being responsible which, by the way, has nothing to do with blame; it's about having the willingness and courage to choose an empowering context in which to live our life in, regardless of the circumstances.

    Thank you for posing the question, it has shifted my present frame of mind thinking about the answer.
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    Oct 31 2011: Much of the guilt we have to cope with has been implanted by religions through generations. Making you feel small, then offering "salvation" their way. Fire and brimstone type of sermons are being preached to this day. Confirm, or else....everlasting damnation awaits thee. Seeing through the plot I got encouraged to think for myself. No longer do I have to live under the foreboding dark cloud of guilt.
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      Nov 5 2011: Mr. Szantor, I had a similar experience, but not alone.

      My Protestant peers claimed that Catholics go to hell because of bad doctrine, uncaring that my wife is Catholic. I withdrew from religion over the ensuing decade, but immediately realized my faith had always been in the truth much of which is unknown.

      A decade later, I am a human being and member of the community of living species with no desire to restrict my social association again. Also, I am a citizen of the United States of America.

      Ms Hooker, thank you for suggesting Brene Brown’s talk.

      High school educators must feel extremely vulnerable about being self in today’s attorney-dominated public service. I’d like to suggest ways (adding to TED) of teaching yourself “I’m enough.”

      Contact your public library and learn about reading and discussion groups and choose one. I participated in “The Great Books Reading and Discussion Program,” a five year program if you wish.

      When you see news or opinions about which you would like to comment, write a letter to the editor. Focus on: understanding; integrity (exceeds honesty); empathy about opposing preferences; clarity; and sharing yourself fearlessly. Submit to your newspaper any letters you want other people to read.

      No matter what you choose to read, immediately debate with the author when you disagree. I actually keep a record of my debates as word files. Thus, I debated with Abraham Lincoln his claim that God caused the Civil War.

      Thank you for your question.
      Phil
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    Oct 30 2011: Would god forgive you? Do you not have within you a piece of the divine spark? Then it is divine or god like to forgive. To forgive yourself - love. Love yourself sure but first simply love.
  • Oct 29 2011: For me it has to do with growing to know yourself better and better and day by day, moment by moment learning to be kinder to myself. This makes me not only more forgiving of myself, but helps me not to be so judgmental of others. I don't think there is an easy answer though. Things that have helped me are meditation, my spiritual teacher Osho, who is/was the most compassionate person I have ever seen in my life, the work of the Arbinger Institute in the US and worldwide and The Forgiveness Project in the UK.
    And some things are just really hard to forgive... maybe in some cases more ease is the best we can do? Wishing you all the best on your journey
  • Oct 29 2011: Forgiveness for what? For something they've done?
    1.Guilt is for something we've done but to live guilty is a waste. Sometimes amends can be made, and should be, then it's over except for the constant thinking about it. Life is about living it.

    For not being perfect? Making a mistake?
    2.Shame is that we are not perfect.
    We make mistakes all the time. We're supposed to. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

    From being born? Original Sin?
    3.Toxic shame is that we are bad from birth.
    Teach number 3 to a child and it is child abuse but Islam, Judaism and Christianity still practice it.

    Number 1?
    The true meaning of the power of life is that one can do whatever one wants. There is no Karma.
    Oh, people will try and extract or enact, Karma upon others, and frequently do. Many, many people have done terrifyingly horrible things to others and suffered no Karma at all. They got completely away with it and in many cases
    no one even knew about it. People want desperately to believe they will be punished after they die, claims they cannot substantiate in the least. Even if they were caught, they got away with it. No one has been resurrected.

    Changing how we are is the only way. But, toxic shame may never leave, no matter what anyone thinks, tries or is told to help bring about a new sense of self - that of forgiveness.

    We are so brainwashed into judging, blaming, pointing fingers, demonizing others, and second-guessing all that is said, that we are ill with neurosis. We are so mentally ill that we worship lies, cling to them, and hope ( a false concept in and of itself), they will never leave us.
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      Nov 9 2011: Wow, that's pretty bitter, Random Chance. "Toxic shame may never leave". Whew! Ouch. But hey, you also state that "changing how we are is the only way", so it appears to me that you haven't entirely given up.

      You and many others, including myself, have been subjected to brainwashing, I agree. And some people are still blitheringly unaware of that, but I'd say pretty much all of us conversing here on TED are at least aware of the brainwashing and interested in relieving ourselves and others of the non-survival effects of the brainwashing. Hence, we talk, and consider, and expand our understandings ... and learn to let it go.

      Many folks will go to their deaths without ever feeling the love and forgiveness that truly is their birthright. Let's just commit ourselves to continually putting out the message that it is both possible and desirable to help the toxic shame, leave ... and that many of us are willing to help in this process.

      Fair enough?
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    Oct 28 2011: Ho'oponopon may be helpful.
    To see what it contains follow the link.

    http://hooponoponoinsights.wordpress.com/
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    Oct 28 2011: Self knowledge and understanding is always the first step. Without it, there is no rudder. Without a rudder there is no target or direction. Then any path will do.

    Remember what Carl Jung said, "Enlightenment is not about imaging figures of light, but about making the darkness consciousness'.

    When two souls meet with self knowledge, there are no heights they can't soar to.

    How can we create a culture that instead of being locked in the temporary momentary pleasures find ways to create more depth and go deeper. It's there the real richness lay, in my opinion.
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    Oct 28 2011: One of the ways I found a way around forgiveness is through a simple Eastern belief: that God resides within. So then He is as much a part of the actions/thoughts that call for forgiveness. Seeing His Hand in all my events makes me believe it is all a play... i played my wicked part at times when needed so I could learn something that would take me somewhere.... To hold on to guilt is an act of great ego- humility and letting God take the call just makes it easy to live with oneself...
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    Oct 28 2011: If you can not forgive yourself how can you forgive others? You don't know what forgiveness is.....you don't know what it feels like.
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      Nov 6 2011: Forgiving others is much simpler than forgiving yourself, Laszlo.
      I quite often forgive others but I quite never completely forgive myself.
      In forgiving others you take into consideration they are human, they can do mistakes, you take into consideration a lot of things.
      When you have to face forgiveness for yourself you seem have difficulties in considering that. May be because from ourselves we expect more than from others?
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          Nov 7 2011: Hi Adriaan, thanks for your comment.
          1. Of course I agree there is a lot of "unknown" and that I consider only "half the picture" to forgive others but what I try to take into consideration is quite often the 'good' there may be in that half;
          2. Learning by our mistakes...uhmm...is it so simple? Situations are never the same even when they appear to be so...however, "get over it" is a good idea! :-)
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    Oct 27 2011: Hi, Meyla. Here's something that has helped me: Forgiveness (i.e., healing) occurs when we apply Loving to the places inside that hurt.

    HOW TO:
    1. Go to the place of Loving and Compassion inside yourself. This could mean connect to the Loving in your heart (like when you think about how much you love your partner, child, or pet) or your Loving Consciousness (a way of experiencing the "beingness" of Love). What's important is to feel the peace, compassion, and expansion this brings.

    2. From that place of Loving, forgive yourself for the judgments or misunderstandings you've held. For example, I might say: "I forgive myself for buying into the belief that I'm a failure. I forgive myself for judging my self as a failure."

    3. Then see if the Loving part inside can offer a replacement belief that is more supportive and nurturing. For example: "The truth is . . . I'm learning, growing, and contributing perfectly in each moment." Or "The truth is I am a perfect child of God."
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    Oct 27 2011: Forgiving yourself is tough. Forgiveness is a very tough act because it's so hard to describe and cannot be summoned at a moments notice.

    This is a great question and I'm not sure how I've forgiven myself in the past. I guess I just keep pushing and just keep in mind that we all make mistakes. I'll always make mistakes. It's about learning from them and still begin able to move towards my goals.
  • Nov 27 2011: Very confused here; "doing"... pronounced like... "boing!"?!

    Reading these (about 1/2 way through) it seems to me that talking about forgiveness is kinda like defining a piece of cheese by the ant-tracks that surround it, (just like that lady said). [Not that reading between the lines is a bad thing.] (Or am I not reading too well - {{too early}}.)
    Some people refuse to forgive bc they still want some control over the situation, (losing a baby, someone walking out on them), it's too hard to face any other possibility, so they cling to the one reality they'd hoped for. [Is mental health the ability to change; or perhaps "to stay the same interactively" in alternate situations?]

    2 John Hugg: And yet the proclivity of schools to "shuffle" bad teachers around indefinitely!!
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    Nov 13 2011: this is obvious around the globe, but how can this change?
  • Nov 13 2011: People who find it tough to forgive themselves are usually still attached to the event or situation. If we can detach ourselves from the past, then it's easy to forgive ourselves. I'm not saying we have to forget about the past. That's not possible. The trick is to "feel it", "accept it" and "drop it" whenever memories of the unpleasant event crops up. A good way to forgive ourselves is to start being compassionate and kindhearted to less fortunate people. It keeps your mind focused on the good things you are doing and with time, those unpleasant events of the past will seem more and more insignificant.
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    • Nov 13 2011: I fully agree. It doesn't matter if the other person forgives you or not because you can't control that. It's more important that you are aware of your mistake, make an effort to change your ways and forgive yourself :)
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    Nov 13 2011: On a Grander scale.....Humanity as a whole is engage in a common universal act, to grow, to evolve, to overcome and acheive when we're tested. To push our furthest boundaries, to break the limits of what is our known knowladge. This act is based on our ability to learn and retain the essential. The essential being what is made and what is already given. History is what is already given and what is made is how we learn from that history. To begin this act one must have a healthy person in all areas, mind, body and love. A "FRAMEWORK", a person as an individual must seek out and resolve the issue in order to thrive. Based on ones charactor and traits is according to how they will control and handle their demons. But in the end to FORGIAVE your self is a must or you adhere to the loss of evolution.
    Simply put (self preservation). We as mankind have to move froward, you have to forgive yourself at some point to move forward.
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    Nov 10 2011: Hi Till, and thank you for your reply. You ask Are only humans "part of God"? My answer is No. Any consciousness is, to my way of thinking, part of God ... and my thinking certainly allows for extraterrestrial life even though I have not consciously experienced extraterrestrial life myself.

    I can feel that there is a consciousness greater than what I claim as my own, just as I perceive that my consciousness is different from yours. Look at the simple fact of this conversation. Do you not agree that your consciousness is different from mine? Note: I am smiling as I'm typing this. It is fun for me. Perhaps it is for you, too.

    You state that "The brain is the only connection to the real world." I would state that differently: the brain is part of the body, which is our primary input/output device for interacting with other living beings on this physical plane. I find my brain both very useful and also somewhat annoying at times ... but it is my brain and I'm glad it connects me to this world where I can experience and communicate with other beings.

    Seems to me that where we differ most, is that I conceive of God as a synergy containing every bit of consciousness that exists anywhere and anytime ... or, more simply: God is ultimate simultaneous consciousness. Taking all the inputs I have received and continue to receive, and synthesizing them to the very best of my current abilities, that is what makes sense to me as a starting point. You state that you do not "believe in God", and thus we differ.

    For me, the non-physical world is even more real than the physical world. For you, that is not the case. Oh well. Seems to me that we both intend to go on living, learning and communicating in this physical world ... and I like that.

    Thank you for expressing your viewpoint. Keep on thinking and feeling ... so will I.

    What is the significance of "Panta rhei"? I am not familiar with this term.
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    Nov 10 2011: Meyla--

    Forgiving oneself for significant situations one has created which hurt others, is best done though deep self/other insight. And, in the process understanding what harm has been done and seeking the forgiveness of other(s),

    This process, at best, creates mutually engaged empathy. It can take a good deal of time. And there are times when this is either not possible, or not healthy for the person(s) who've been hurt.

    In either case, in my mind it is critical to hold in consciousness one's capacity to hurt, in attempts to keep it in check and not do more harm. A very good way to do this is to orient one's commensurate efforts to change and/or heal issues similar to those one has "committed."

    Forgiving oneself requires moving forward and intentionally practicing the lessons one has learned by encountering and embracing the hard truths of one's self-sabotaging capacities.

    While I think both are important foundations for a humane self and society. I am far more concerned, frankly, with people's inability to admit their less flattering behaviors, make clear amends and sustain an ethic that consistently holds in balance others' humanness as highly as one's own.

    In other words: I think a primary feature of our societies these days is a serious "deficit of apology." To make matters worse, a pathological contagion of impulsive "act now" behaviors founded on the premise that one can always ask and likely will get forgiveness later, has seriously compromised sanity.

    The latter response goes to human capacities for empathy, the former often goes to psycho-social immaturity. Abetted, in my mind, by widespread regression from sustained committed relationships. Which, as Brene Brown so wonderfully articulates, require vulnerability.

    In my mind sincere apologies and sincere forgiveness of self or others are harbingers of healthy ego and, when public, hope for healthy societies.

    The framework for either requires less ruminating, more doing.

    Andrea
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    Nov 9 2011: God forgive...is their job.
    Men forgive and forget sometimes.
    Nature never forgive and never forget.
  • Nov 9 2011: Hi Meyla, wow and good question! I think, it depends on the scale of the wrong doing. Humans know, what is wrong. What they do to another human, is like a scale of 1 to 10. Humans make mistakes. This is easy to forgive. However, if said human repeats the mistake, (again 1 to 10) It all depends on the mistake. (does that make sense?) Impressed with the link! Thanks!
  • Nov 8 2011: Hi Meyla,

    From my experience there's no steadfast framework, rather a simple method.

    1. Accept the fact of what happened
    2. Measure your involvement/role in the incident
    3. Do a unselfish/good deed a day

    Somethings are beyond our control and if accept that continue to do something good, forgiveness comes a lot faster.

    Hope it helps.

    Mz
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    Nov 8 2011: When I am asked whether I am religious or spiritual, I have tended to answer "spiritual" because it is a more universal concept than what "religious" has come to be understood as within "consensus reality". Whether we perceive ourselves as one or the other or both does not greatly matter to me. Truth does. You have chosen wonderful truth to share with this conversation. Even better than that, you framed the scriptural expression of truth with the understanding of logic, thereby putting the truth in an even better light than the light of command. Bravo! No need of blame nor condemnation here!
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    Nov 8 2011: Big bang set it all in motion. There is very little control though we might think there is and we should strive for it. we are mistake machines. I take responsibility for my actions and so should we all but i see offenders stuffing up all the time as though there is no way out. Just forgive yourself move on and hopefully you will learn not to do the same thing again. and so it was......
  • Nov 7 2011: Melya ; I Am New Here , My 77 Year Old Dad Passed Away One Week Ago .... But I WILL Help You ....!!! ...
  • Nov 7 2011: Meyla ; Yes There Is A Framework , Here It Is ; Quit Comparing Yourself To Other People , Second When You Look In The Mirror ; LOVE What You See .... You Are One Of A Kind ... !!! Think This Way ... Then You Can LIVE In The Present , Not In The PAST ... That ROBS You Of Your FUTURE... You Are Wonderfully Created ... And Have Come To The Realization ... That You Did Something WRONG ... !!! Learn From It ... And Carry On ... !!! .... It*s Part Of The Learning Process ... !!! You Are Not Alone ... We All Go Through This ... So ADMIT Your MISTAKES .... And Carry ON ... Love You .... ; Our Greatest Gift ...IS LOVE .... Bye ...
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    Nov 7 2011: .
    Dear Meyla,
    .
    Suppose there are millions of people sinking in quicksand, and you just realized you could have rescued them. Do you spend any time blaming yourself for the one's you didn't rescue, or do you spend all your time, and effort trying to rescue those who still need your help?
    .
    Cheers,
    Michael
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    Nov 6 2011: I read about this topic in a really interesting book called. "Beyond Good and Evil" written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon. I do not know whether it was translated into english, or not (original in german-"Jenseits von Gut und Böse").
    MSS states that free will does not exist. The brain can have only one state at a given time. One neuronal pattern. This is based on all the experiences you have had, including your education, etc., your genes and the momentary flood of information from your environment. Because there are no actions without a cause, your mind can only think what it is able to think, but nothing else. So in a given moment in the past, you could not have reacted any other way, than you did, because your brain could not do it any other way.
    Based on this thought, it is true, that you would say, than noone is responsible for any action they have done. That is true, but this does not lead to fatalism. There are no "morals", but there still are ethics. You can still say, what is right and wrong. And you can regret, what you did in the past, but you are not guilty. That is the big difference. And it is delightful.
    And this does not lead to determinism either. It is true, that you could not have acted differently in the past. But all of the information that can change your mindset this way or another, is not determined.
    With this you can forgive yourself and others more easily. And critisism becomes the greatest gift. All the critisism you recieve from others is helpful, and even if it was meant to hurt you, you know that this person could not have done differently. And you can criticize others as much as you want, when you know that they would not be hurt by it.
    I would love to have this kind of society. Maybe even here on ted. Noone has to be ashamed of his/her lack of knowledge, etc. No question would be to stupid to be asked. No comment too bad, like this one..:)
    We could strive more easily to the goal we all seek. To spread our ideas.
    • Nov 7 2011: Till ; If We DON*T Have Free Will According To MSS , Then Why Did You POST ??? ... Because You Seen A NEED .... And Filled It .... Bless You And Your Loved Ones .... Peace Through IDEAS ....!!! ....EveryOne Is Precious ... No Matter What ... Their Circumstances ...!!! ... You Have To Love Yourself .... To LOVE ....Others ...!!! ....... Most People DON*T LIKE OR LOVE Themselves .... You Have To Live In Your BODY ... So Why Prolong The Wait ...??? LIFE Is GOOD .... To Be ALIVE .... Another DAY ....!!!...
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      Nov 9 2011: My goodness, Till, this is a really different take on the issue of forgiveness. I have read & re-read your post several times, trying to distill my response. Here goes:

      While I like the concept of moving "beyond good and evil", I'm not convinced it is humanly possible. I define "good" as any state or action that is pro-survival ... not just for oneself but also for Mankind and all living things. And as long as more experiences await me, that I can enjoy, contribute to, and learn from, I remain interested in survival. It is my contention that God wants exactly that for each and every one of us, for we are "parts of God".

      Further, as a part of God (which I define as "ultimate simultaneous consciousness"), I have infinite potential and infinite choice. Thus, I do not accept MSS's statement that "free will does not exist". I'm not sure you do either, even though you put it forward to this discussion.

      You then move directly to a claim that "the brain can have only one state at a given time." Hmmm. I have a really hard time thinking with that one. I am not my brain. I am not even my mind, although I admit to having a mind that focuses my thoughts and uses my brain to interact with my body and my environment. And while I grant you that my mind certainly has a say in determining what I choose to do, and that the state of my brain also exerts its influence, that state is in constant change and is not the only influence. My consciousness - which is to say, ME - is the prime causative influence over my behavior, and over my choice of response to any given situation ... which is RESPONSIBILITY. We are each responsible, and I know this based on all the experiences I have had, my education, etc.

      I'm glad you agree that there are indeed ethics, and right & wrong, and regret. Perhaps you are simply saying that regret need not descend into guilt, and with that I certainly agree. And a society without guilt would surely be a step up from today's society.
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        Nov 9 2011: Thank you for your answer.
        Are only humans "part of God"? Where would you draw the line if you could. I don't think we can draw one at all. So is every living thing on this earth "part of God"? And what about extraterrestrial life?
        You state that you are not your brain. The brain is the only connection to the real world. It merges all your senses. If not, one is completely distorted, or loses consciousness.
        There was an evolutionary advantages to be able to represent oneself to communicate with others, to predict the outcome of one's actions. The feeling of a self, an "I", came with the representation of the own body and the skill of pointing one's attention to something specific.
        I don't think, that there is this kind of dualism, some soul or consciousness that is indepandent from the brain. That had to be something non-physical, and I don't believe in God or Gods, or anything that would give us this skill, at some point in evolution. And if, why should they, why humans,etc,etc.
        Panta rhei. And I don't think that anything can twiddle with this stream.
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    Nov 6 2011: Most people believe there is one finite answer to everything whether their conscious of it or not. For me to be right someone has to be wrong and being wrong is about the worst thing we can do.

    We also naturally assume if something goes right we are a genius and of something goes wrong, somebody else messed up or was the cause of the failing. We have blinders on and we see the world and our self in rather the same context. In, short we don't really dive into why something went right or why something went wrong.

    Everything we do is serial and there is a pattern to our behavior the key is to become more accessible to a open system that would rather include and not exclude.
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    Nov 6 2011: The blame game is never constructive. People who blame themselves have too much time on their hands. Instead of using your mental energy to blame yourself, use it to help others and lessen human and animal suffering. That way even if you are to blame, you have a chance at redemtion.
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    Nov 6 2011: Ms Hooker, please see my reply to László Szantor.

    In my paragraph to you about writing letters to the editor, one of the personal traits that will be made clear to you by that process is your humility. For example, in my debate with Abraham Lincoln, I concluded that I perceive a way I would agree with him, if his meaning was what I perceive yet cannot confirm.

    After about twelve years of the kinds of activities I described in my earlier post, I concluded that I had always been a good human, but my rearing had indoctrinated me to think I needed salvation.

    Better ideas are in classic reading, such as Chekhov's "Rothschild’s Fiddle," perhaps 30 minutes. If you read it, jot down issues that occur to you--curiosities about Chekhov's choices and objections to his points. In a trivial example, why does Chekhov nickname Yakov "Bronze?" The text is online, for example, at http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/ac/roth.html . I think everyone who seeks or has found a partner for life should read RF.

    Phil
  • Nov 6 2011: Wow. Forgiveness, the very idea validates morality as truth. Religeous frameworks for forgiveness reserve this ability to diety only, but say that we should forgive the wrongs of each other or not receive divine forgiveness. Forgiveness for yourself must be sought from the divine....and on and on. This is a framework for forgiveness, but not for self forgiveness. That framework requires true repentance and faith in that system. I've seen this work for many people including myself. But does not answer how to forgive yourself, especially if you are moral but athiestic.
    The good news is that you or me realize that we even need forgiveness. If you don't have a conscience, self forgiveness is moot. Forgiveness is letting go, releasing from prison and more than that never bringing the past wrong up as a weapon to reimprison or enslave. It's not forgetting, it's remembering to never again wrong. It's truly the mark of love and maturity. Holding on to unforgiveness to others and yourself is like holding a hot coal in cupped hands, it will scar if you hold on long. It's difficult to let go because the cupped hands are in your mind. You can't forget. So what do you do? Find the person you are closest to in the world that you trust with your life and tell them. This is typically a cathartic process full of painful regret and remorse. Saying these things aloud and hearing yourself say it is important even more than writing it down, but writing is good too. The friend will be there not to say what you did was not that bad, but simply to comfort and love you, because you can't do this for yourself, yet. if you have no one or trust no one then confess these things aloud alone. Record yourself if you can. Apologize and forgive yourself aloud. Repeat if you must. Listen or watch your recorded confession. By all means if this involves a living person you've wronged then apologize and try to make amends to them. if they won't speak to you write them. Time does the rest.
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    Nov 6 2011: Meyla.......if you ask yourself, then are two entities inside you...which one forgive what, and which ask....???????????

    Its like separate realities.
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    Oct 31 2011: I think the first step is to understand that we are human. Mistakes are common and (for some of us) frequent. In forgiving ourselves we must find compassion for ourselves. We can't find forgiveness externally it is inside all of us, that's the most difficult quest of all. Delving deep into ourselves for forgiveness. I think a good start is simply saying to ourselves, "I forgive me". Then taking the time to understand what that means. Learning and practicing meditation is a great way to sort these things a out at your pace and under your own comfort level.
    There are many people who can teach you this skill, locally and nationally.
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    Oct 31 2011: Meyla, you are great to ask this question. I think the "framework" is for each one of us to create for ourselves.That is our job here in this life, in families, societies, cultures, climates..into which we are involuntarily born.
  • Oct 30 2011: Hi Meyla!
    Good question! Humans and issues, tough one!
    Hmm, humans are weak and tough.
    Humans forgive, some times they don't.
    Some human have framework, some do not give a crap.
    If a human, needs to forgive, then forgive.
    This life is too short! (but, do not forget!) With the Respect to Ya!! :)
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    Oct 28 2011: I try tp follow simple rules
    Things not controlable by myself , forgive at once self if anything goes wrong.....
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    Oct 28 2011: I think the answer has a lot to do with this http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/philip_zimbardo_prescribes_a_healthy_take_on_time.html.

    I must admit that I focus a lot more than I should on past negatives, often asking myself why I did something or how I could have done it better. Of course such questions cannout undo the past, but they remain very persistent.

    If you have a healthy focus on time, focusing on past positives, present hedonism and future goals it should be a lot easier to forgive yourself for something. The more you focus on what went wrong, the harder it becomes to forgive.
    Unfortunately, having a "healthy take on time" is not as easy as it may sound.

    Great question by the way!
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    Oct 27 2011: I do no think we can ever fully forgive ourselves anymore than we will never forget the ones we love or once loved.

    The only thing that can been done really is to continue to live life. Things will get easier with time but I do not think anyone will ever get over it.

    I think the problem comes when we think that we'll be fine and just forget about things and then we realize that we can't. The best thing to do really is let the past be the past and with our best efforts make sure we're never in a situation again (i.e. learn from it)