I’ve been thinking about forgiveness lately. Forgiveness isn’t just a gift that we give people who have wronged us, but forgiveness is also a gift that we give ourselves. Why would we need to forgive ourselves? I’ve found that most people, myself included, who struggle with food choices have a tendency to be harder on themselves than they need to be when they make an unfortunate food choice.
I am my own worst critic. I can do 50 things “right” but when I mess up in 1 area of my life, which thing do I remember – the 50 right choices or the 1 wrong choice? I remember the 1 wrong choice. And not only do I remember it, but I dwell on it, stew over it, and sometimes let it trip me up.
When I was gaining weight on a daily basis, I made many unfortunate food choices. I’d eat entire sleeves of chocolate cookies and then feeling guilty about eating the cookies, I’d start in on the chips. And after the chips were gone, I’d make some toast slathered with butter. And all that could happen before 3:00 pm! When I had days like that, I hated myself. I judged myself and found myself lacking. I then condemned myself.
I wasn’t able to see that self-condemnation wasn’t helping me at all. Instead of helping me, it was holding me back. And as the weight piled on, the guilt came with it. I thought about my mistakes all of the time. I’d beat myself up over the fact that I ate an entire pound of candy, and instead of granting myself grace and forgiveness, I allowed the feelings of guilt to push me further into my own private world.
It wasn’t until I finally had my “aha” moment that I realized with great clarity the need for self-forgiveness. I could forgive friends for rude comments, could forgive family members for insensitive actions, but found it very difficult to forgive myself. I actually sat down after the first 2 or 3 weeks of my journey and told myself, “It’s okay that you’ve messed up like this. You can make a choice this day to change.”
I gave myself permission to be free from the feelings of guilt and self-loathing.
I wish I could tell you that after that everything in my mind was a-okay because it wasn’t. But it was the beginning of the process of forgiving myself for the mistakes I had made in the past, and gave me an outlet to forgive myself when I made mistakes along my weight-loss journey.
It makes me sad when I see people beating themselves up (figuratively) over a bad fast food choice, or too many cookies at the office party. I know exactly how they are feeling. But if I can, let me offer you some encouragement. Beating yourself up time after time probably won’t help you get where you want to go. If you can practice forgiving yourself like you do other people, you may find that your journey is a more pleasant place to be.