Day Three: I Forgive Me
“Selichah,” usually translated as “forgiveness,” is the first step we must take when we make a mistake, whether it be against God or against another person. To ask for forgiveness is to say to the “injured” party, “I am sorry for what I did; I sincerely regret having done it, and I will never do it again.” The appropriate response to this request is to believe that the petitioner is sincere and “open the door” for him or her to “come in.”
The Mahzor Vitry, an 11th‑century work describing the yearly cycle of observances and prayers, tells us that “it is a custom to begin on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah to rise early to the synagogue, before the sun rises, and beg for mercy.”
Asking God and others for forgiveness is, as we learned yesterday, a core-component of Teshuvah, repentance or returning. Today we're going to look at another aspect of selichah - forgiveness: Self-forgiveness.
Self-forgiveness is not about letting yourself off the hook nor is it a sign of weakness. The act of forgiveness, whether you are forgiving yourself or someone who has wronged you, does not suggest that you are condoning the behavior. According to Rethinking Rumination by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Blair E. Wisco, Sonja Lyubomirsky, self-forgiveness means that you accept the behavior, you accept what has happened, and you are willing to move past it and move on with your life without ruminating over past events that cannot be changed.
Today is all about asking for forgiveness; not just from others but from yourself. Forgiving yourself for mistakes you've made can be hard, but its also really important.
You may still be feeling some regret from the teshuvah you worked on yesterday. Today we begin to forgive ourselves. Forgiving yourself is about more than just putting the past behind you and moving on. It is about accepting what has happened and showing compassion to yourself.
Everyone makes mistakes and has things for which they feel sorry or regretful. Falling into the trap of rumination, self-hatred, or even pity can be damaging and make it difficult to maintain your self-esteem and motivation.
What Do I Do?
Forgiving yourself often requires finding a way to learn from the experience and grow as a person. To do this, you need to understand why you behaved the way you did and why you feel guilty. What steps can you take to prevent the same behaviors again in the future? Yes, you might have messed up, but it was a learning experience that can help you make better choices in the future.