Recently, I have realised that I was struggling to let go of small things that had happened in the past and that I was struggling to forgive and forget. I’ve always considered myself as quite a forgiving person; I always aim to see the good in others and give others the room to change and grow and rectify their past selves.
So then why did I find myself remembering the times I had been ‘wronged’ in my life, at random moments throughout the day? I have found myself remembering past issues that have already been long resolved, and feeling upset about it again. Why is that offhand comment someone made about the way I dress, years and years ago bothering me so much when in reality, I don’t care too much about how other’s see the way I dress? Why do I find myself reliving painful emotions I’ve experienced as a result of something someone has said or done to me in passing? Why can I not let it go? These are all questions that have been running through my mind lately. And then I took a step back and I examined myself, and it hit me;
I haven’t forgiven myself. For what? For being human, for having flaws, for making mistakes, for the past.Due to certain experiences in the past, I have become so hyper aware of my own flaws and mistakes and making sure I held myself accountable, that I have ended up just internalising them all. I am obsessed with everything that is wrong with me because I am too scared to acknowledge my good traits or deeds for fear of arrogance or vanity. But because of this I have started almost punishing myself. I realised the way I think about myself and the way I talk to myself is extremely negative and damaging; I would never even think about talking to someone else in that way – so then why do I think it’s okay to talk to myself like that?
If I can’t forgive myself for the smallest mistake I have made, If I can’t treat myself with courtesy and mercy – how I can expect to be forgiving towards other people?
To be a forgiving person, you must first practise forgiveness on yourself.
Yes, we make mistakes as humans, we sin, we are flawed. But remember we are made this way, we are flawed as beings because Allah (SWT) has willed it this way. It is important to remember when it comes to mistakes and sins that, yes, you should be responsible for your actions – but you shouldn’t punish yourself.
Allah (SWT) is all merciful, compassionate, forgiving of even the biggest of sins – there is no sin so big that he cannot forgive;” Say: O My servants who have transgressed against their souls, do not despair of Allah’s Mercy, for Allah forgives all sins. It is He Who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)
Leave the judgment of your sins up to him, our creator – seek forgiveness from him with a sincere heart and forgive yourself in the meantime. Instead of wallowing in lament over what you’ve done wrong, think about how you can avoid it, or improve for next time. If there is something you can do to make up for whatever mistake or wrong you have done, then do it, and then move on. Hold yourself accountable, but let of go of the guilt – it will only hold you back. Feeling guilty will not solve anything, it will not erase mistakes – it will only bind you to them deeper.
The manner in which our religion instructs us to behave towards others, with kindness, mercy, and goodwill, applies to ourselves too. These are things I am trying to implement myself – I want to be a person who is merciful and forgiving, but I can’t do that until I learn to be merciful towards myself.
Israa is a Creative writing and English literature graduate, and currently volunteers for a few charities. In between her routine of nerding out over Dungeons and Dragons, and obsessively eating strawberries, she spends her time writing as much as she can.