Picture yourself standing at the end of a road in a box canyon.  The trailhead is surrounded by rocky cliffs broken by streamers of screeextending from gray clouds overhead to a silent, green basin around your feet.  

Before you can begin the long-awaited hike up and out, you notice something next to you.  Looking at boxes of various shapes and sizesin a disorderly pile, you remember the big black Sharpie in your hand.  As you begin to label the boxes, you realize two things:some are too heavy to lift, and you have only the trailer on your riding mower to move them back out of the canyon!

Some small boxes contain offenses ignored at the time, but still hoarded.  Other hurts required bigger boxes to contain them,because theynot only cost you inconvenience or explanation but also demandedchangesinyour plans.  The heaviest boxes, often with no handles to grab ahold of, bulge with cruel deedsunjustaccusationsneglect, abuse, and other traumatic memories.Annoyed because you’d put off dealing with them, overwhelmed by theirsheer numberfrustrated by the un-stackable variety of shapes and sizes, and embarrassed by the contents, humiliation fogs your anticipation of the hike and hopeless anger accumulates in your throat. Welcome to the land of unforgiveness!

Settling matters quickly with the other person seems wise.  I may try to enforce justice by withholding forgiveness until the offender somehow deserves or earns it.However, this onlyenslaves my heart’s peace to the other person’s choices.  In contrast, settling matters with someone who has hurt me means that I choose to have good intentions toward them and I seek ways to provide justice for both of us.  Forgiveness cleanses the wound so that the relationship can begin healing.  

But what if the other person is ME?

Unhealthy busyness, fear, or blaming others can makmebelieve that ignoring or denyingmy wrongagainst myself will makeitdisappear.  Generalized advice to forgive and forget, just move on, or turn the other cheek may drive the anger deeper,allowing me to deny both reality and extent of aself-inflicted wound. Any passive stanceused to avoidthe work of honest reflection cankeep awound open.  This allows it to abscesswithinvisible resentment, unhealthy control, or harmagainst myself.I usually need help getting out of this box canyon.

When I find myself here, I turn tosomeone whoaccompaniesme on this life journey, who walksclose enough to observe me,and who caresenough to tell me what they see.  For me this means my husband, my children, my counselor, and my God.  They helpme forgive myself,God provides the truck to haul off the boxes to where they belong, and thenwe move ahead on the next leg of thejourney!

So, when I choose to forgive myself:

• don’t pretend that the wrong I committed didn’t happen.
• don’t rationalize that hurting myself doesn’t matter, or that it helps.
• acknowledge what I really wanted and how I tried to get it.
• recognize how I hurt my own heart, mind, body, or spirit by my choices.
• forgive myself for not being perfect, for failing to own my mistakes, for holding unreasonable expectations of myself.
• seek to establish healthy boundaries,smy heart isn’t re-injured.
• I accept theconsequences forwrongs committed.
• plan my days to includhealthy self-care habits out of self-respect.

Karen Bridges has a wealth of knowledge to share.  If you’re interested in coming to talk to her, or any of our other quality counselors, visit our website to book a session, or call our office.  Our friendly office staff will be happy to help you, (970) 490-1309