Forgiveness and “forgiveness work” have become quite the catch phrases in the past few years. It’s not uncommon in spiritual circles for me to hear: “Oh, I’m doing my forgiveness work,” and yet wise teachers throughout history have been guiding us to do it for eons. Finding our way further in the ever-evolving light of personal development, we are advised we must learn how to forgive. We are advised to learn how to get past the issues we’ve had with other people and let go of the judgments we carry. What if the judgment we carry is with ourselves? Then what? Think about the times you’re in an argument with a friend where you’re at fault and you feel awkward. Or you make a mistake and someone you care about gets hurt; you feel awful. You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that creates anxiety. There’s a tension in your body that makes you feel uncomfortable. So what do you do? You apologize. You let them know you’re sorry, and you ask them to accept your apology. “Hey man, I’m really sorry. I screwed up.” And you wait. You wait for them to let you know they forgive you, that’s “it’s cool” and you’re good. We have a plan. We know what to do. And if our friend doesn’t forgive us after we apologize, we usually call them a douchebag in our heads. What if the apology owed is to you? From you to you? What if the person you need to forgive screwing up is you? I forgive myself because I know that I am not perfect. That perfection doesn’t have a space on Earth. Forgiving yourself is about recognizing your hero — you in ten years’ time, or simply your higher self. The person you know you are in your gut but sometimes, when off-guard, let down. Remember: it takes effort to be this person. It requires perseverence. It demands self-awareness. Be grateful that you have this awareness. So many people live without it. So when you do or say something that doesn’t align with your higher self, rather than beat yourself up about it, falling further into the lure of your lower self, rise and forgive. Even if that means doing the thing much harder than forgiving yourself: forgiving someone who has wronged you or someone you love. Forgiveness isn’t about justifying the other person’s actions, but rather about making yourself clean – inside and out. When you cling onto bitterness towards others, they own a part of you. They dirty you. By forgiving them, you take away their power – whether it is fear, disgust, resentment, envy, loathing, a sick feeling in your stomach that they get to live out their life happily despite their abhorrence as a human being – your act of forgiveness eliminates all of that negativity lodged within you. As much as we don’t like to admit it, the negative feelings we hold towards others hurt us more than they hurt anyone else. They force us to fall deeper and faster until we finally flump into the pit of our being: the lower self. So, how do we rise to the summit of our being? Our highest, most gracious, generous, loving self? It begins with compassion. Compassion for how far you’ve come; how many breaths you’ve had the fortune to take; a consideration of how many times you have had to pick yourself back up — and succeeded — when no one thought you had the strength. How does it end? With reflection, forgiveness – then, in turn, healing.