The Importance of Forgiving Yourself

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Your cheesy quote of the day.

Another common trait of most sufferers of depression is the way that the past seems to haunt over us, shrouding the present. We are reminded about the things we have not yet accomplished, the things that we shouldn’t have done, and the things that have been said. The guilt and regret are debilitating.

So, why are you doing this?

Simple. This is the first step that you must take in order to fully accept yourself.

 

The Failures

The “failures” play an interesting role. The first thing I would do is to assign a different word to the things that go wrong. Most of the time they just impede your progress. They give you an opportunity to figure out what isn’t working. Things that you perhaps didn’t really want to do. They are more like harbingers of opportunity (yes I know, that was very optimistic even for me, but just hear me out).

Real World Example: I was a straight “A” student who ended up going to college to become something that would allow me to make money. The goal was to make enough to live a comfortable life and then figure out what to do. However, when I got to college, I starting doing poorly. Eventually, I gave up trying. It was hard. My family didn’t understand or approve. This was my moment of choice – stay with the career path I had decided on or discover what it is I want.

That’s all life is in the end – just soaking up lessons so that you can live the life you want. Sure, the example I gave may sound trivial, but it shook me to my foundation. In the end, that’s what these turning points do. Please, take a step back and truly analyze the thing that has been haunting you. Is there a lesson buried in there? What is it? What changes can you make?

 

The Casual Mistakes

Have you ever gone through a day and realized that you said something that you weren’t supposed to? Gotten someone’s name wrong? Tripped or spilled something on yourself? These are pretty universal experiences, I assure you. However, when you are plagued by depression, they eat away at you more than they ought to. They are on replay in your mind.

Take a moment after these blunders occur and take a deep breath. It happens to everyone. We are all human and being human is a messy process. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. In your mind, take that moment and imagine that the moment is tangible. Crumple it up and toss it away.

Learning to laugh at these small mistakes helps. Truly, it does. Don’t laugh at your “stupidity”, laugh at the action itself. Think about it this way: if a friend was to do the same thing, you would probably make a joke (if not, then you are a much kinder friend than I am and kudos to you). Also, anyone in the vicinity can no longer make fun of you because you are making jokes about it yourself. You strip the onlookers of their powers to bring you down. This situation is now under your control.

 

So, How Do You Forgive Yourself?

Write it out on paper or talk about it (especially if they are larger concerns). Tell yourself that it could happen to anyone. Tell yourself the truth – you reacted that particular way because of your circumstances and the limited knowledge that you possessed at that time. You only know better now because you have more information. Don’t worry about looking crazy. This is for you and you alone.

If it helps, talk to someone, especially if you feel as if you victimized them somehow. You may be surprised to learn that it didn’t really affect them that much. We are all social creatures. Conversations keep us all together. They have the power to heal relationships. If you don’t believe me, give it a shot. Sure, at first there may be raised voices and hurtful things that are said. However, that’s just a temporary reaction that our biases bring out. After they pass, things become better. Just stick with it if you value the relationship.

Work towards your better future. This is the best way to allow solutions to present themselves.

And most importantly, grab onto that slim sliver of hope and never let it go.

 

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Life on the Sidelines

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Most of us are familiar with the feeling – feeling left out of a group, always observing things from what feels like a distance. Being shut out. So, what do you do? You probably try to ignore the glares, suppress the old wounds, and keep your head down.

This is harder to combat than others. Especially those of us who are of ethnic backgrounds and different sexual orientations. Basically, anyone who is not amongst the “status quo”, you have probably experienced this.

The Depression Factor

Depression skews our world-view (yes, I have stated this numerous times before too). It gets to the point that we perceive ourselves to be shut out even if we are ignored unintentionally. By keeping silent for the remainder of the interaction, we shut ourselves out. The other person cannot possibly understand what we are thinking. They don’t know why we’re quiet or why we have decide to walk away. This is not to say that people never intentionally ignore people. That happens too.

We have a decision to make in moments such as these. We can succumb to our own insecurity, allow our depression to take hold, and retreat. Or, we can take a moment to gather our wits, and see if the situation can be resuscitated.

Speaking from experience, the latter is much, much better. Yes, it takes courage and it takes all your will-power. However, your efforts will be rewarded. Maybe not in the way that you intend, but nonetheless, you can gain peace of mind. At least you won’t subject yourself to future regret.

 

The Loneliness Factor

Yes, being on the outside sucks. You are in a group of people and you feel alone. Maybe, you walked into this feeling alone to begin with. Maybe you walked into this knowing that you don’t know anyone. Seeing a sea of unknown faces is daunting to anyone.

I am not trying to undermine anyone here. I know we are all capable adults and we all know how to talk to people should push come to shove. However, we forget that these people may also be nervous or anxious. Just because someone emits a confident exterior, does not mean that they are natural social people.

Take a moment to speak to someone. Start with a greeting or small talk. Yes, yes, you know how to do this. So, why am I saying it? Because you need to actually try it! What’s the worst that can happen? They walk away? I’m sure you can handle one person walking away. They were probably a jerk anyways. Nice people don’t do things like that.

 

The Lasting Effect

Usually, we are not aware of this, but when we leave a social situation, feeling invisible, we may find that we have buried some of the residual feeling. If left unattended, these emotions build up. They grow and grow and grow. After a while, it takes longer to recuperate because partially we want people to look at us and think that we are strong, partially because we don’t know how to deal with it.

So how do you deal with it?

The answer is so simple that it sounds stupid. Talk. Start a light conversation, casually mentioning that you felt left out. Frame it in a way that it doesn’t sound accusatory. In confrontational settings, most people will defend themselves to no end and they may even show aggression. To avoid this, try to practice what you are going to say. Make sure you use words that are ensure that you are not blaming the other person.

You may just find out that the other person had no idea. They may apologize or they may not. Either way, it’s out in the open and now you know that their intentions were not malicious. And isn’t that worth it?

 

Happy conversations, everyone! I’ve got your back!

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