30 Day Mom Challenge Day 21: Forgive yourself when you mess up.
“I hate him.” Powerful words from a child, but kids sometimes use the most efficient language to get their points across.
“I don’t like it when you say ‘hate,’” I tell him. “That’s a powerful word.”
“But he was mean to me and I hate him.”
This opened up a discussion about forgiveness. I tell my kids that if you hate someone, you aren’t hurting them with that emotion; you are only hurting yourself. If you offer that person forgiveness in your heart, you free yourself from carrying around that negative emotion. And if someone’s being mean, they’re usually looking for that knee-jerk upset reaction in return. Don’t fall for it. Just forgive.
And it works when we turn that forgiveness inward, as well. As humans, we all make mistakes. The old adage tells us:
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
And there is power in this short sentence, because it reminds us that we are human, and we all make mistakes. But we also have the possibility to connect within the divine by offering forgiveness. If we make mistakes, that voice inside might be the mean voice saying “you’re stupid! You can’t do anything right!” That’s something that we can’t buy into, we need to give ourselves forgiveness, take the air right out of that mean voice inside.
How do I handle it when I make a mistake? I get angry at myself. I might eat something I shouldn’t have, go for a long run, cry, journal about it, drink some wine with friends. I try to keep my activities from becoming self-destructive; I try to opt for the run instead of the cupcake. But at the root of it, the thing I most have to do is to remember that everyone makes mistakes, even me, and it’s okay to forgive myself.
I remind my kids that we learn lessons when we make mistakes, our character is built in those moments when we face difficult decisions, such as making the choice between anger and forgiveness. There is no reason to carry the burden of anger when you make a mistake; we are mature enough to forgive others, and we must extend that same respect to ourselves.