Forgiving Yourself and Others

Again, thank-you to Shelley, Ravisher, Nana, and Honesty for their input. I assume the rest are passive users. Now, compulsive gamblers have made a lot of bad decisions that have harmed themselves, their employers, friends, and family members. These bad decisions have included lying, manipulating, stealing and other crimes. In order to move forward with our lives we have to forgive other people and especially forgive ourselves for our mistakes and transgressions. If you have any good articles, quotes, or personal techniques you use to forgive, please let newcomers know about them. Forgiveness is a major step in letting go of the past so we can move forward and live up to our potential. Please share.

Most of us harbour some form of malice. That malice may be against our parents, a bully at school, a boss or somebody who has harmed us in the past. We feel that we could never forgive them. The malice may be against our self, for something we have done in the past, or blame ourselves for. As most people know that read my posts on here, I am not religious in the sense of 'organized' religion. However, I read the Bible, the words of Buddha and the Koran, also some other religious books. All the great teachers teach forgiveness, because it is good psychology. Forgiveness is not something we do for somebody else; it is something we do for ourselves. It is in fact a selfish act, because it rids us of the 'burden' of malice. To forgive, REALLY forgive, we must FEEL it. It is not enough to just say, "I forgive you for…." Or "I forgive myself for…." We must feel it. If you have the courage, it is good to say to the person's to their faces, "I have been hating you for a long time because of…. And I want you to know that I forgive you for that." If you cannot actually say it, then write a letter to that person. Think about is as you write, and write it with 'feeling'.

After you have written the letter, you can either send it to the persons or throw them in the waste bin. If the person you hold malice towards is no longer with us, imagine them sitting in a chair opposite you, and say your forgiveness out loud. I used this method to forgive my father for the beatings he gave me. I had been harbouring bad feelings for many years and they were only harming me, nobody else. I wrote letters to some others, then, threw the letters in the rubbish bin as a final end to my malice. With guilt and self-loathing etc, you must give yourself the same privilege; forgive yourself for 'all' the wrongs you have done to others, intentionally or unintentionally.

If you are Christian, you will know that Jesus died for your sins. If you cannot forgive yourself, that is like saying, "Yes, what Jesus did was great… but it wasn't enough." If you still cannot forgive yourself, then pray to your God, or go to Confession, until you 'feel' the forgiveness. If you are into self-help psychology, then you must read and learn until you fully understand the Power of Forgiveness. To feel free of guilt and malice is of paramount importance for a healthy, happy Life. Ravisher. I agree with everything Ravisher wrote. What I do is try to forgive my mistakes each and everyday, or sometimes right after they happen.

I also forgive others (if they've done something wrong) everyday. I do this so all the anger and hate do not build up. They are expunged from my mind as quickly as possible. I know that I've hurt people unintentionally at times and they've hurt me unintentionally, or sometimes there are misunderstandings. It is important that I let go of the past and concentrate on the present and future. The only way I know I can do that is to forgive. Forgive those around me and forgive myself. As a former compulsive gambler, I know I still have to work on my character. But each time I make a mistake, I'm not so hard on myself. I'll analyze the situation and say to myself, "Okay, I've made a mistake. That wasn't the right thing to do. I need to handle it better next time. I forgive myself for making that mistake. I forgive myself. I'm human. I forgive myself. What do I need to do next to accomplish my goals?" It feels great! I'm genuinely trying to improve myself as a person. I forgive myself for all the money I've lost in the past and all the bad decisions I've made. I can forgive anyone for anything because I can forgive myself. forGIVE yourself; it is the most loving act. You deserve it. I was born with congenital cataracts. This was 40-something years ago before lasers and lens implants so the treatment was to remove my damaged lenses and slap what people liked to call "coke bottle bottoms" on my face.

I was teased and tormented daily. I kept my head down and refused to make eye contact with anyone. As soon as I got old enough I got contact lenses. I am blind in my left eye so I was only given a contact lens for my right. As you can imagine, it is quite difficult to insert a lens correctly when you are blind. The result is I would scratch my eye, have to where a patch and be immobile for several days. Finally, I told myself that if I didn't want to be totally blind forever, I had to forgive people, past, present and future, for their stupidity and know that thick glasses or not, I did not deserve the hurt they were bestowing on me. I am now able to look people directly in the eye. I am trying the same technique to forgive myself for all the money I have squandered with gambling. The past money is gone but the future money doesn't have to be and the Sun will come up tomorrow. Nana. nana, Partial blindness runs in my family. My mother was born almost blind and spent most of her life that way, until cornea grafts. One of my sons is blind in his left eye and so is my sister. My mother's story is much like your own, so I can relate. Now I would like to ask you, why are you 'trying' to forgive yourself and have not forgiven yourself completely already? There has never been anybody on this planet who did not make mistakes. The money you blew is gone. It is past. It is over. Today is a new day. Tomorrow will be another day, and as I write millions of people are making all kinds of mistakes all over the planet.....

The money is gone and you cannot replace it... but what you could do is try to make more money than you would have done had you not learned this 'lesson'. That way you will be turning 'negative guilt' into positive thinking and action. Take care. Ravisher. "I told myself that if I didn't want to be totally blind forever, I had to forgive people, past, present and future, for their stupidity and know that thick glasses or not, I did not deserve the hurt they were bestowing on me." Nana, those people who did hurt you, were they children or adults? When I was younger I did a lot of things that hurt people. Sometimes people are not conscious of their actions. As compulsive gamblers, we certainly weren't conscious of our decision to hurt ourselves. I remember how I was hurt by other children as a child. Now I can look back at it and just say, that was "kids stuff." I even get a good laugh out of it. But there are adults out there who, (1) are not conscious of their actions, (2) are "pure evil, as I call them, and will purposely hurt you and impede your success. Now, as an individual I have GOALS. I decide what is important, prioritize what I have to do to achieve my goals. If people do things that are hurtful to me but those things have no affect on my goals, then I forgive them and move on. If people do hurtful things to me that ARE impeding my goals, I'll stand back and analyze if what they've done is deliberate. If it's unintentional, I will forgive them and move on. However, if this person has a pattern of hurting people (usually negative people will do this), then I will bring it to their attention and try to work it out with them. I will stand back and analyze how I contributed to the situation. And when I do take this step, I find that I'm not completely innocent. You'll have to realize that there are people out there who do not know the difference between right and wrong. Compulsive gamblers in the midst of their spiral belong to this group. So people made fun of you? Who cares about them! What I do is evaluate everyone in my life and new people I meet.

1) Can they support me emotionally? That is, can they make me happy and support me with my goals? If they can't, then they're "anchors"-- negative people who weigh me down.

2) Can they support me financially? That is, can they get me a job when I need it, help me with my financial goals? Not necessarily give me money, but support me with knowledge and encouragement.

If people can't support me financially or emotionally in a positive way, I'd rather be doing my own thing. Of the two, I think having emotional support from people in your life is paramount. I avoid negative people like the plague. I don't give my time and attention to people who put other people down so they can feel good about themselves. They exude negative energy and I don't want any of that energy. I know some of the stuff I've written might sound arrogant or conceited, but as a former compulsive gambler I'm beginning to learn to love myself. To know that I deserve to be happy and be around with like-minded, positive people. To overcome gambling addiction and be happy, we have to learn to take care of ourselves first. We can't make anyone happy unless we can make ourselves happy first. But in the end, it's not what people think and say about you. It's what you think and do to or FOR yourself that will be tallied on the final score card. From all I've read, men and women are attracted to CONFIDENCE. And confidence is not about how you look like, it's about your accomplishments. People can feel confidence. "She/He's oozing with confidence." How do we gain confidence? Hey, I have to stop here. I feel like I'm writing a book.

I've been reading a ton of self-help and psychology books and they all have one thing in common. They both agree: EVERYTHING STARTS IN OUR MINDS. Every creation is created twice: first, in the ethereal world of our minds and then in the physical world. Good day, everyone. I had to think about this topic for a little while. Here are my thoughts as they apply to me, where I am now. When I was caught up in the cycle of gambling addiction, I had a lot of self-remorse. I KNEW that I was harming others and destroying myself. I think most compulsive gamblers know about guilt. At first, it was hard to focus on the NOW instead of what I had done in pursuit of my gambling addiction. Guilt, self-remorse, name it, I felt it. As my days added up I felt better mentally, physically, emotionally. The old "Shelley, you're pathetic" tape quit playing in my head. Honestly, haven't had that thought go through my head since my LDG (Last Day Gambled)! Awesome feeling! But that doesn't make the damage I did go away, and neither does simply forgiving myself. It begins with clear thoughts, I think. It helps to make amends. I had to admit and ask people for forgiveness for those things. I have begun to do this and it is very eye-opening to have someone you love say "I forgive you, just get better!" If they can forgive me, why can't I do the same for myself? I can...eventually. But I also think self-forgiveness is a process that every person has to come to on their own. No-one can say to me "forgive yourself" and make it so. It doesn't work that way. Just as I have begun to make amends to others, I also have to make amends to ME.

(I am not talking simply dollar values here, that is the easiest thing for me to forgive). To a large degree I think that self-forgiveness is a "conscience barometre" and when your conscience is satisfied, then self-forgiveness will come. Take care. Shelley Hi Shelley, In the same way that your old tape of "Shelley, you're pathetic" has gone, you want to rid yourself of the old tape, "Shelley, you are guilty". Exactly 'what' is a compulsive gambler "guilty" of? In my book a compulsive gambler is a 'victim' of compulsive gambling, not guilty of it. People have no idea that they will 'become' compulsive gamblers until 'after' they start to gamble. If you wait until the damage you've done goes away, or is made up for, you will be stunting your progress... and the damage may never go away or be compensated for. You are right, it is not enough for me, or anybody else to tell you, "Forgive yourself." You must 'feel' it. Forgiveness is not, in my opinion, a conscience barometer. As Jesus Christ said, "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

It is a 'reason' to forgive. It also makes good psychological sense to forgive others, AND yourself. Think about this: Did you know that 'before' you started gambling you would become a compulsive? Did you decide to become a compulsive gambler? Did you deliberately go out of your way to hurt yourself with compulsive gambling? Did you deliberately go out of your way to hurt others with compulsive gambling? Or, did you 'know not what you were starting'? Compulsive gamblers "know not what they do." when they first start gambling. They do not know that they are within a group that will become addicted until the gambling addiction 'bites' in. They are innocent pawns in a game. What I have written here is not an 'excuse' it is a 'reason'. A reason for you to forgive yourself, as your God, Jesus, Buddha, or any good psychotherapist or philosopher would help you to do. Sit alone, think about these things, and find it inside yourself to forgive 'you'. "Forgive yourself as you would forgive those who sinned against you." Ravisher. The only way I can forgive other people and forgive myself and truly mean it, or for the forgiveness to have any value, is to do something good with my life. That is what I'm doing right now. I'm making good of my life. Ravisher, I didn't say I had a "Shelley you're guilty" tape running...only that I have some work to do.

I am not waiting for things to go away, nor am I stunting my progress. I'm doing it my usual Shelley Shelley, Your post of Tuesday March 15, 2005, sounded as if you are still having problems with guilt? If this was so, then it would be stunting your progress. The "Shelley you are guilty" was metaphorical, as I guess the tape running in your head "Shelley, you're pathetic" was metaphorical. Another misunderstanding. Good luck with your way. Rav. Hi Ravisher, It's not that I am still having problems with guilt. I have decided how to make my amends. This is not only to benefit anyone I have harmed, really, but more for ME. I don't think this is stunting my progress, only part of the path I have to walk to put this all behind me. Unquestionably, I DID hurt others whether they were aware of it or not. I didn't do it on purpose, but I feel I have to take accountability for my actions. Even if I harm someone unwillingly, I have to 'make it right' and I'm not just talking about gambling. I think it's part of what makes our character.....being able to say "I was wrong" or "I'm sorry." A while ago, I accidentally forgot to e-mail a hockey schedule to one of the parents. They were VERY mad, understandably since they were new to the team and had had problems right from the start with the administration of minor hockey. She phoned and left me a no uncertain terms telling me how much I had inconvenienced them and how much they were disgusted with our citiy's minor hockey system. In the old days, I would have felt horrible about my mistake and it would have ate at my brain for a long time. Instead, I called her back, telling her how I was completely to blame for the missed e-mail, but that it had nothing to do with minor hockey, per se. I apologized to her for my oversight.

Now, their son has never again been to a game or practice, but that is her choice. I did my 'work' and did it with sincerity. I haven't lost any sleep over it since. Did I make that mistake on purpose? No. But I made a mistake, and for MY benefit more than hers, I made amends. It's a simple comparison, but it demonstrates my way of thinking perfectly. LOL, and by the way Rav, I don't think 'luck' has anything to do with 'my way'...but thanks anyway Shelley Hi Shelley, I think we are saying much the same things, in different language, terms etc. etc. "Even if I harm someone unwillingly, I have to 'make it right' and I'm not just talking about gambling." (unwittingly I think you meant?) Most times we cannot 'make it right' and just have to let it go. We make mistakes. And sometimes we hurt people and it is not a mistake, it is on purpose and premeditated. (Hold my hand up here, guilty!) But not 'feeling' guilty, not harbouring that guilt. Just guilty of being human, and wanting to get back at somebody, who I felt deserved it at the time. The don't get angry get even syndrome. There are times when forgiveness will not cut it, and times we cannot turn the other cheek. I am not a saint and not trying to be one. Just a guy going through Life and surviving the best way I can. And doing quite nicely thank-you.