What do you think of when you hear the word forgiveness?
It may call to mind the religion of your childhood. Maybe you think of a resentment you’re trying to let go of and working on forgiving someone in your life. Or you might think of the need for forgiveness in your own life from people who were harmed by your behavior.
I believe forgiveness is a forgotten skill. It empowers you to overcome some of the things that hold you back most in your reboot. Hanging onto anger keeps you a prisoner of your emotions. Learning to forgive provides the freedom you’ve looked for in many different avenues up to this point.
Are you harboring a grudge over certain things that were said or done in the past? It’s difficult to reach the later stages of your porn addiction recovery if you won’t let go of past harms done. However, you likely aren’t sure how to get to a point where you can release them. That’s why I consider forgiveness to be a forgotten skill.
Take a moment to recall some of the worst times of your life with your out-of-control sexual behavior. You’re probably like me in that I said and did many things that caused lots of harm to others. My words and actions resulted in physical, emotional, financial, and psychological damage. I destroyed lots of relationships because porn addiction problems and masturbation were more important than anything else. Sometimes today I still cringe at the terrible things I did in my past and the hurt I caused others.
I also found that I was holding a lot of grudges when I first ended my behavior with porn and masturbation. I was so angry at other people for the way they treated me, despite the awful things I had done as well. That didn’t stop me from feeling angry for being mistreated and taken advantage of in different situations.
Safe to say I had a lot of baggage when I finally decided to control my out-of-control behavior. Forgiveness was the last thing on my mind. But I had to release some of the weight of all I was carrying because it was too painful to carry on. It wasn’t until later that I realized letting go of some of that weight was the first step to forgiveness.
Religious leaders will have you believing that forgiveness begins with others. You need to turn the other cheek and not hold grudges for what was done to you. While these are useful skills to develop, they’re likely to feel impossible when you first begin the reboot process. You can commence at a simpler level when learning to forgive.
Forgiveness begins with you. It starts with forgiving yourself for the harmful behavior you’ve engaged in for so many years. Learning to forgive yourself frees you from the heavy load of guilt and shame that you’ve carried around for so long. As you truly embrace forgiveness for yourself, you’ll find lightness in the world that you never imagined possible.
Once you’re able to forgive yourself you can then extend forgiveness to others. Consider those you carried grudges against or felt resentment towards. Call each grudge or resentment to mind and consider whether it’s worth continuing to carry or if it’s time to forgive and move forward.
Something many people mistake about forgiveness is that it’s for the other person. They believe they need to forgive someone for that person’s sake. But forgiveness is for you, not for others. Forgiveness is a process that frees you from the mental strain and burden caused by carrying all that anger, frustration, and bitterness around.
Once you forgive someone you no longer allow them or their behavior to weigh you down. Those resentments you’ve carried for years play a significant role in what holds you back from success and happiness.
At the same time, this doesn’t absolve you of responsibility for the harm you caused. While forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, it doesn’t mean you get away with doing what you did. You still must acknowledge your wrongdoings and make restitution where you can. A simple “sorry” will not do, either. You’ve made apologies for years. It’s time to make genuine amends for the ways you’ve harmed others.
Once you can forgive yourself, though, facing the people you hurt becomes more tolerable. You know that you’re no longer the same person and can stand firm in your newfound convictions. As you continue to work on yourself, forgiveness will remain a constant and important part of maintaining emotional balance and wellbeing in your reboot.