Believe Blog 5: Forgiveness
By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer
I have a question for you today: How many times have you found yourself being held back, your growth and potential stunted, by something that has happened to you in the past? Do you realize the major repercussions that can come from this? We have all set some standards in our lives, and those standards come from many different places. Your upbringing, societal norms, or just your own goal setting influence these. When we do not obtain those goals or milestones, we sometimes do not do the one thing we are taught at a young age: forgive. I look at that word, forgive, it seems so simple but it may be one of the hardest things to do. Especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves.
I am embarking on the ten-year mark in the health and fitness field. Prior to that, I spent several years in the mental health field. In both of fields, I saw the consequences of not forgiving oneself. Time and time again, I have seen a lack of forgiveness slow one's progress or even stop it dead in its tracks. Not forgiving can lead fear and doubt to set into one’s mind.
It can lead to some major issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, obesity, and addiction, just to name a few of these issues. Without forgiveness of yourself and others, you put yourself in a vulnerable position where you might not be ready for the worst case scenarios that may arise in your life. You will start to think you are not right, not good enough, and not strong enough to continue to try new opportunities and go after your goals.
It is difficult for me to open up about my personal life and the experiences I have gone through, but I truly hope and Believe that my life experiences can help and inspire someone else. Around 2005, I found myself going through a divorce, having to figure out split parenting, and the end of my career path. I never dreamed these things would happen to me. I never thought I would put people I loved or myself in these situations. Each day, I woke up feeling I had failed. This was devastating and almost made me give up. I started to feel like I no longer deserved to live. I had let those around me down. I had not lived up to what was expected of me. I was not the father, husband, son, friend, or employee I wanted to be. It became harder and harder to face myself each day. I had to find something that was going to change this. I had to stop doubting that I deserved to move forward and be happy and healthy.
That thing I started to do was forgive myself. I started with small things- forgiving myself for not eating the greatest, not pushing myself with each workout, or not getting all my water in. After I was able to forgive myself for these little things, I noticed I was being more successful in these areas and did not get so stressed out about the little things. I also started to forgive myself for bigger things, the things that I had originally perceived as failures. Once I was able to forgive myself for these things, I started to realize that these were just stepping stones in my story that were leading me to where I needed to be. Practicing self-forgiveness and forgiving others in my life, allowed me to become happier and healthier. I was able to Believe again.
Please remember, I am not sharing my story to receive sympathy or empathy. I simply want to help you examine your story and see what is stopping you from achieving the goals you have set. Each of us has experiences and our own stories that shape who we are. I wanted to share my story to help you realize the importance of forgiving yourself and the freedom that comes along with this. I want to share with you some of the steps that led me to forgiveness.
Face the truth of the situation that you are in and accept that it is real. Taking responsibility for your actions and accepting the truth of the situation will help you start to make progress towards self-forgiveness. A ton of emotions will come along with this, but I want you to embrace those emotions. It is okay to feel- to cry, to be angry, to be unsure, or to be sad. These feelings will help you heal.
Believe you can overcome this because you can. You have the power to pick yourself up to continue to move forward. No matter what you Believe, you are not alone. There is always someone there for you who will support you no matter what.
Respect the healing process. It takes times to overcome any situation that has left a mark on your life. You will not always have the right answer for how to get back on track. It takes time for your heart, mind, and soul to heal and grow stronger. This does not mean you are weak and cannot move forward- you just need time to heal. Be patient with yourself.
Understand that you are strong. Look at all the good qualities and situations you have. Those qualities and situations will help you realize that you deserve to forgive yourself for the things that might be stopping you. I know it sounds cheesy, but write down what you are grateful for each day. By focusing on the positives you will realize you have so much to be thankful for and that you do deserve to forgive- both yourself and others.
Finally, forgive yourself. A lack of forgiveness can steal your happiness. There is no situation that is too small or too big to forgive yourself for. Whether it be feeling unsuccessful for not getting a job promotion, or feeling like a failure because you did not give your everything to a relationship, or judging yourself for gaining weight, or whatever your situation might be- there is nothing you should not forgive yourself for. I am not saying to simply forget about these situations and act like they never happened. Instead, I want you to learn from these instances. Allow them to help you grow and make you a better person. It is easy to doubt, feel pity, or want to give up when these situations arise. But these are this times you need to forgive yourself and not let these things stop you. You deserve to be happy and healthy.
In the world today, blame, grudges, and hate are everywhere, and it often seems easier to give up and give in. Here’s the thing- the world needs you to fight to be the best you can be. You are important and so is everything you have to offer to those around you. Starting today, I want you to forgive yourself and not let anything hold you back.