I saw 'Saving Mr. Banks' this weekend and while I enjoyed the movie a great deal (it was quite touching), I came away with this one idea.
It is impossible to like others if you do not like yourself.
Now I do not want to give away to much of the movie, but suffice it to say that the main character spends most of the movie being insufferable to those around her and demanding that they not only accept it, but change to suit her in all facets. She so disliked herself that she spent her life making everyone else pay for it.
This is not a new thought for me. There are times I have done the same. I find when I don't like myself, I don't like anyone else either. The harder I judge myself, the more exacting my judgment of others.
Over time, I discovered an answer to this state of being.
I had to forgive myself. I could not find any other way.
All the shame, self-loathing, embarrassment, EVERYTHING will tend to pull you deeper and deeper into that dark place where all you can see is the black shadow of who you are. Forgiving yourself is NOT easy. I didn't want to forgive. I didn't think I deserved it was very determined to hide, or suffer or just be as unhappy as possible. How do you deal with being deeply disappointed in yourself? For me, I finally realized how hard I was making life on those around me, my wife, kids, siblings, friends... I eventually got tired of seeing them tiptoeing around me, weighing their words or just avoiding me.
My wife and I ventured into 'Marriage Bootcamp'. This week long exercise put us on the road to marriage recovery, and taught me about the importance of forgiveness. I needed this information in order to salvage a marriage that was dying. In the process of trying to make it right for my wife I realized I had to make it right for me as well.
In life we impact each other, sometimes nicely but many times not so much. If we do not forgive, the anger and pain stay with us, coloring our choices, our actions and our general feelings. Forgiveness is for US, not for the one being forgiven--they don't even have to acknowledge the apology--you just have to do it and do it honestly. Once I grabbed this idea I traveled WAY back in my life and began forgiving people...all those little (and Big) things that I had been holding onto. Slowly, my outlook began to change. I quit holding onto grievances (mostly) and began working on forgiving me. In the end I realized that I wanted to be better...I wanted to change, but the only way was to forgive myself for past mistakes and move forward fresh. Now, I have the lessons I learned without the baggage they came with. It is a very freeing place to be. I like me a whole lot more...and so does everyone else.