Use these 3 steps to forgive yourself and set yourself free.
Yes, I struggle with being over-responsible, so I know what I'm talking about. (And, please, don't judge me.) Over-responsibility is a trait most women are either trained into or gifted with at birth.
But it's not found exclusively in women! Men are also over-responsible and come by it just as naturally as women do.
Us over-responsible folks experience the world a bit differently than others do. We know on every level of our being that we are
responsible for making things work out and take care of everyone else. If we don’t, we feel anything from discomfort to misery at shirking our perceived responsibilities.
It’s our overbearing sense of accountability that can hamper or even derail our divorce recovery. We habitually assign ourselves blame when things we’re involved in don’t work out or simply don’t go as planned. It’s the guilt from being at fault that keeps us from healing.
When your marriage ends in divorce it’s way too easy to blame yourself primarily (if not exclusively) for its demise. You spend hours thinking, “If only I had _______” where you fill-in-the-blank with impossibilities. Not things that are impossible to do, but things that are impossible to go back in time and do.
For us over-responsible types, it is difficult to let ourselves be less than perfect. (Oh, and by the way, a failed marriage is WAY less than perfect.)
Yet acceptance of your fallibility and imperfection is exactly what needs to happen to stop the merry-go-round of misery you’ve been riding and get over your divorce.
Bottom line: You must forgive yourself before you can get on with your divorce recovery.
Self-forgiveness isn’t a skill that comes especially easily when you’re used to holding yourself liable for just about everything. However, it’s a skill you must master.
If you’re ready to stop heaping blame and guilt on yourself, follow these 3 steps to forgive yourself and let your healing begin:
- Share the accountability. It takes two for a marriage to fail. You were always doing your best given your situation. (Yes, you were. You’re over-responsible so by definition you were doing your best.) However, doing your best does not mean that you’re omniscient or perfect. By continuing to blame yourself you’re being self-destructive.
- Choose to forgive yourself. Imagine what it would be like to stop the blaming. All it takes to stop is choosing to forgive yourself. Say the words out loud, “I forgive me.” Let them seep into your psyche. Continue saying them until you believe them just a teensy tiny bit.
- Record the shift you feel when you do forgive yourself. You’ll know you’ve forgiven yourself – even a tiny bit when you start to feel more peaceful. You’ll know you’ve completely forgiven yourself when you feel an intense sense of peace. Make note of how you feel so you’ll be able to remind yourself of the forgiveness you’ve experienced – just in case your blame habit wants to kick in again. The more often you remind yourself of how wonderful it feels, the more you’ll want to continue on the path of personal forgiveness.
Following this process once probably won’t magically gift you with self-forgiveness. You’ve been in the habit of taking all kinds of responsibility and blame that aren’t completely yours for a long time.
Don’t worry though because you can do these steps again and again. (I did.) Each time you go through the process, you’ll achieve a deeper level of self-forgiveness. Once you do forgive yourself, you’ll then be able to really achieve divorce recovery.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce recovery. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.