Self-Forgiveness is an essential aspect of personal growth and well-being, as it enables individuals to move forward, heal, and cultivate a positive relationship with themselves. Forgiving oneself is important because it allows individuals to break free from the shackles of self-blame and regret. We all make mistakes, experience failures, and engage in behaviors we later feel really bad about.

Wellness, blame, compassion, failure, forgiveness, growth, mistakes, relationships, selfcompassion

Healing from Within: Understanding Self-Forgiveness

Self-Forgiveness is an essential aspect of personal growth and well-being, as it enables individuals to move forward, heal, and cultivate a positive relationship with themselves. Forgiving oneself is important because it allows individuals to break free from the shackles of self-blame and regret.

Dwelling on these shortcomings can lead to a cycle of self-condemnation that hinders personal development. Self-forgiveness provides the opportunity to release the burden of past mistakes and learn from them, fostering a sense of self-compassion and understanding. Just think of all the perfectionists that you love & care about who find it impossible to forgive themselves & accept their humanity.

Dwelling on these shortcomings can lead to a cycle of self-condemnation that hinders personal development. Self-forgiveness provides the opportunity to release the burden of past mistakes and learn from them, fostering a sense of self-compassion and understanding.
Self-forgiveness is not about condoning harmful behavior but acknowledging it, taking responsibility, and committing to positive change. It involves recognizing that everyone is fallible and that mistakes do not define one’s worth.
One huge obstacle to self-forgiveness is the fear of vulnerability. Opening up to oneself about the pain caused by one’s actions requires courage and self-reflection. However, embracing vulnerability is an essential step in the process of self-forgiveness & in improving relationships. Season 1 of the beloved show The Bear is so powerful because of the intimate view we have of the characters facing their bad behavior without excuses. We are witness to their humanity & we care more deeply for them & their struggles that touch our hearts.
Self-forgiveness allows individuals to confront their mistakes with honesty, accept their imperfections, and ultimately grow from the experience. The benefits of self-forgiveness are numerous and impactful. It can lead to enhanced mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and self-criticism. The release of negative emotions associated with guilt and shame contributes to a greater sense of well-being. Moreover, self-forgiveness is linked to improved relationships with others, as individuals who have forgiven themselves are often more empathetic and understanding towards others’ mistakes.
There is research that confirms self-forgiveness is related to biopsychosocial well-being, and more significantly, serves as a shield against several disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In 2015 Bryan et al with suicide attempts among military personnel; in 2008 Wohl et al on self forgiveness & well being. In 2005 Krause & Ingersoll-Dayton found that “for older people, self-forgiveness may play an important role in diminishing guilt and enhancing self-acceptance. In particular, self-forgiveness can result in a more congruent view of the self.” There are many studies that are clear that self-forgiveness is definitely a good thing!
In my search for learning more about this topic I discovered a British website for young Muslims suffering from religious guilt. Written by Maaria Mahmood and Hadil Nour of the Muslim Youth Helpline, who described the 4 Rs of self-forgiveness:
1. Responsibility: Accept what has happened and show yourself compassion.
2. Remorse: Use guilt and remorse as a gateway to positive behaviour change.
3. Restoration: Make amends with whomever you’re forgiving, even if it’s yourself.
4. Renewal: Learn from the experience and grow as a person.
I want to include the opposite polarity of self-forgiveness which is being stuck in Unforgiveness. This would be a trap of being held prisoner by your own anger at yourself, stuffed full of guilt & shame which slowly eats away at your own ability to heal. Self-loathing is so easy to come by in adolescence and learning how to dig out from underneath the burden of it is a huge task for anyone. Some of us turn to addictions to numb ourselves to the pain of self-loathing & unforgiveness.
Self-forgiveness matters because it is a catalyst for personal growth. By acknowledging mistakes and learning from them, individuals can develop resilience and a deeper understanding of themselves. It enables them to make more informed choices, avoid repeating past errors, and build a stronger foundation for future endeavors.
My guest today is from Adelaide, South Australia Grant Dewar, PhD, is a Life Educator, work health and safety adviser, and trainer. After losing his father to suicide, Dewar embarked on a life journey to seek better responses and solutions to the devastating effects of self-harm on individuals. Work in the community, public service, and later in life as a health professional has helped him add to his work on self-forgiveness. He has just published The Self-Forgiveness Workbook.

So glad you could join us today to learn more about this important topic!

Grant Dewar PhD (07:36.839)
Rhoda, your introduction is so insightful and touches on so many things that we could have hours if not days of conversation about. There’s so many things in there that we could unpack but you’ve got a whole lot of really good questions for me so I’ll let you lead the way.

Rhoda Sommer (07:57.066)
All right. This is all about healing the relationship with yourself because there is a critical and sometimes cruel voice telling us we are a monster inside, which causes such a great deal of pain. I especially love these three sentences from your intro. Pain is hiding who you are. It is also your heart appealing to you, asking for your attention.

Pain is therefore a call to action. If you listen and heed the call by telling your story, you can discover self -forgiveness and live beyond your story’s pain. What I love is that it gets to the core of the pain involved in unforgiveness. What more could you share with my audience about this?

Grant Dewar PhD (08:52.623)
Yeah, it’s funny, we have a really strange relationship with pain. Yeah, a lot of people who suffer chronic pain and, you know, I mean, if we experience the pain of a stubbed toe, for example, there’s that whole spectrum of what pain is. We would prefer not to have it. However, if we didn’t have pain, we’d probably be dead in a couple of weeks because pain…

is a sign in our bodies that something is wrong and we need to attend to it. And people who can’t feel pain are in great danger of not being able to heal appropriately because they’re not responding to their wounds. Now that’s in our physical body but we also have that in our emotional body and in our intellectual body that we have an experience of pain which is a call to action but

it can mask what the issue is if we don’t attend to it. So pain is so important in terms of being a call to action, yet we live in a society that basically says we have to be okay all the time. And so we’ve got this difficult relationship with pain because if we say we’re in pain, we’re showing we’re not okay. And in our modern society in the West,

It’s not okay to be not okay. And so we’ve got this difficult relationship and sometimes our pain is telling us something about ourselves that we can’t allow ourselves to hear, but it is our heart appealing to us to make a change. And the process of self -forgiveness, just I’ll say from the outset, we’ll go through a journey with this, but to me, self -forgiveness is one of the core.

requirements of us to live a healthy life because everything we do will touch upon something that either needs restoration from the past or it’s a challenge for the future and in those experiences there’s always a hint that we might fail at something. Now the key to actually living life well is to be able to fail well, to make mistakes well,

which is to make the effort to do something. If we fail at it, what do we learn from that experience of failure? And how do we make that a stepping stone to our success in the future? If we make a mistake, how do we learn not to make that mistake in the future? Or how do we allow others to not make that mistake? So pain is giving us that experience of, okay, there’s failure, there’s mistakes to happen, but…

if we have this skill of self -forgiveness, we can stand back from our mistakes, stand back from our failures. So what does this have to teach us about that experience? And rather than blaming ourselves for being a failure or being a person that makes mistakes, be a person that has a failure or has made a mistake. And you can step back, take perspective, learn from it, and then move into the future. And that’s really…

the whole process of self -forgiveness in a nutshell. But because we’re so trapped in these areas, I’ve given some steps out of that in my book, which are principles rather than something that you have to do as a method or methodology. But there are principles that are helpful for people to live a full and active life.

Rhoda Sommer (12:44.398)
I really, you made me think about when I was training as a therapist and I got to work with Laura Pearls and she said anything worth doing is worth doing badly. And I’ve never forgotten that, you know, it really made an impact on me. You describe one of the most common responses to pain is that we send a part of ourselves into exile.

Grant Dewar PhD (12:58.255)
Beautiful. Yeah. Yeah.

Rhoda Sommer (13:13.774)
And that really moved me. I could really feel that truth. Could you expand upon this for my audience?

Grant Dewar PhD (13:22.671)
Okay, well I’ll give two examples from the workbook and one will be a person that was living in a family where there was a history of addiction and there’s major problems with traumatic episodes, people acting out, injuring themselves, not, you know, adhering to life responsibilities and so forth and I had a person that came to me that needed coaching for how to, you know,

lived their life because they were very fearful of addiction but the problem for them was is they had some major health issues that were not apparent to anyone else. They were internal musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal issues that no one could see because this person looked like a fashion model. They were sort of seemingly perfect in every way but

they were struggling with deep health issues that they needed some major surgical intervention for. And because they were so fearful of addiction, they didn’t want to go anywhere near any opioid type drugs that were necessary for their recovery because they were going to go through major surgeries that required post surgery opioid to basically

because opioids when well used for a short period of time help in the process of healing. And she needed to have the muscle relaxation effects and the calmative effects that she required to allow both her internal organs and her musculoskeletal structure to relax and heal. But she couldn’t face doing that because she was so afraid.

of the addiction, the fear of addiction around opioids. And so she put her fear about that first and put her need to be a healthy, vibrant person who basically put her life on hold. She wanted to have a family, she wanted to have relationships. And there’s a whole lot of things that she wasn’t doing that was created from the pain.

Grant Dewar PhD (15:50.191)
of her life experience from having a family that was addicted to addiction. And she didn’t want to go down that path, but she was putting her own life on hold and she was putting herself and her desires for a full and active life and productive life on hold. And that was like, she’d put that compartment, she’d sent that off into exile. I’m never going to achieve that because of this. And…

Um, that was a really important breakthrough when we got through that process. And I describe it in the, in the workbook, how we worked our way through that. And they had to go through the process of forgiving themselves for being overly protective of themselves, for being, um, too critical of themselves for others actions. They had been shouldering other people’s burdens far too much and that’s often a problem with caregivers. And another sort of seemingly more minor example but it was a colleague who was in fact a mental health social worker who was if you like your traditional hockey mum and she used to love to take the boys to their hockey matches on Friday nights you know practice and matches and so forth. Anyway someone

in the circle of hockey mums knew that she was a mental health social worker and would sit with her and basically use her for free therapy. Now I’m not sure Rhoda if you’ve experienced this but for…

Rhoda Sommer (17:36.11)
That’s why I don’t tell people on planes what I do.

Grant Dewar PhD (17:39.183)
Exactly. Well, yeah, unfortunately in communities people get to know who you are. And what happened is that what had usually been like a Friday night break, a complete walk away from that headspace of doing social work into that sporting atmosphere, supporting your kids, being involved in the games and so forth. And she’s being drawn into it by this person who is…

using her expertise to try and solve their problems and you know if you like for no exchange or reward for that. Anyway she got so sick of this she sort of blurted out this rant on on a messenger app and went to send it to her sister and instead sent it to the person who was doing it.

Okay, so one of those typical Freudian slips that you can do with social media. So she sent it to the wrong person. And of course that caused a huge blow up in the circle of friends and so on. And she just thought what a monster she was for hurting this person who’d come to her with her various issues. But what she realized is that when she went through this process of self -forgiveness,

Once again, she had put into exile that part of herself that needed rest, a break, recuperation, healing in her own way. And she’d continued to carry the burden of being the carer, even though, you know, she prepared to have a short conversation and say, you know, go and see these people, use these resources. But when she was being used up as the resource.

The part of her that needed to care for herself was the part that was going into exile. And that was what she’s expressing in that rant. And then she then further put herself into exile when she thought what a horrible person she was for letting that all out to the person who was, if you like, her tormentor on those Friday nights.

And so yeah, so this is the way in which we can send ourselves into exile when we are in so much pain we don’t even want to deal with what our real needs are. You know, it’s just too hard and we keep up different sorts of facades, we take different sorts of actions or we engage in this self -blame game rather than dealing with what the real problem is because we don’t want to enter in and see, what the work we have to do to heal and recuperate. Does that make sense, Rhoda?

Rhoda Sommer (20:37.038)
Absolutely. And I’m hoping that she learns a future behavior change that would be to set a limit with the woman directly in the future.

Grant Dewar PhD (20:47.275)
Exactly and that’s exactly what she did learn, but she had to go through this process of self -forgiveness to say, okay, I have a right and an obligation to myself to actually treat myself well and put a value on my own time and from that make a strength -based decision.

Rhoda Sommer (20:52.108)
And the self -forgiveness is the balance. You know, I am a Gestalt person. And so I really think about the yin and the yang. So you’re a caretaker, but the other side of that is not exiling, as you said, the part of you that needs to take care of yourself as well. And so you’re really, self -forgiveness is a way of restoring the balance, the internal balance.

Wellness, blame, compassion, failure, forgiveness, growth, mistakes, relationships, selfcompassion

Grant Dewar PhD (21:31.223)

Grant Dewar PhD (21:35.375)
Absolutely, absolutely, but you have to do the work. And this is the thing is that I’ll just say here that when we’re talking about forgiveness of others, I’ll sort of use a Brene Brown type example. If you go to someone with a problem that they’ve caused and you want for them to make amends, because you want to be able to forgive them. But if…

If someone says to you after you’ve revealed a problem, oh bless, I’m sorry you feel that way, that person hasn’t taken any responsibility for what that issue is, right? And sometimes we do that to ourselves, right? The work, the transaction of forgiveness requires work on both sides. So the thing or the person that’s caused offence.
has to do some work about making amends, which is what the four points of the Muslim youth workers were working with. You have to do some restorative action. And once that restorative action has taken place, then the person who’s seeking restitution or restoration with that person can then give forgiveness.

once the work has been done and we have to be able to do that within ourselves. We require us to do work within ourselves in which we’re balancing as you like, getting that gestalt right to get that balance of, it’s a balance of energies. It’s the yin yang as you say.

Rhoda Sommer (23:22.158)
Yeah. Define self -compassion for us and how we can go about improving our skills.

Grant Dewar PhD (23:30.895)
Okay, well, self -compassion, the root word of compassion is to be with suffering. And what we’ve talked about so far is that if we don’t allow our pain an open expression, if we don’t allow ourselves a space to be with that pain, we cannot examine it and we cannot see what its purpose is. So,

Self -compassion is to sit with ourselves in our pain and suffering. Now, the Buddhist example is we, pain and suffering will happen in this life. It’s the struggle that’s optional, right? So struggle is when we, okay, we’ve stubbed our toe walking into a room. Oh, I never want to have that pain again. That’s struggle, okay? Pain is there for a good reason.

for you to choose your steps more carefully, right? So pain and suffering are part of life, but it’s the struggle that’s the problem. And self -compassion is a way to stand back, hold the experience of pain, hold the experience of suffering, to be open, interested and curious about what that experience is, to give love and support.

and the sort of acceptance that says it is what it is and I will allow it to be in its own space because this has its own significance. Okay now to me self -forgiveness is part of the actions we do in response to what we discover in the space of self -compassion. So

Self -compassion is the broader field of holding this space. Self -forgiveness is part of our response to what we find. But in the first instance, it’s about being open, interested and curious and allowing ourselves to hold this space and allow it a space to reveal what it has to tell to us, which is, you know, this pain that we experience requires some…

sort of space and examination to see that it might have a purpose. So for example, in the earlier example of the woman dealing with the family with addiction, yes, she needed to be safe in entering into a surgery to be given appropriate levels of medication, but also have an exit strategy from that medication so that her well -founded distress.

about addiction didn’t appear in her own life. So that pain was telling her something, but she needed to hold it and just allowed it space, which is that self -compassion to sit with suffering. What is this telling me? What is its message? What can I learn from this?

Rhoda Sommer (26:55.31)
It makes me think in several episodes, whether it’s about dealing with your anger or dealing with disagreement, about taking a pause. And I’ve been talking to my clients a lot more about trying to have a pause. And that’s, self -compassion sounds like another way to have a pause. And so that you can kind of step back and hold it. I like that a lot.

Grant Dewar PhD (27:20.271)
That’s right. And what it is, is it’s having that consciousness brought to that pause. It’s allowing an expansion of our experience, rather than us trying to push things down. Yeah, push things into exile, right? I don’t want that pain, it mustn’t be there. That’s the exile experience. And what the welcoming experience is, okay, it’s there. What is it? What does it tell me? How do I need to respond in a way that brings life and growth to the experience?

Rhoda Sommer (27:57.366)
Digesting it, a pause to digest.

Grant Dewar PhD (28:00.429)

Rhoda Sommer (28:03.886)
It seems that self -blame is the opposite of self -compassion. Why do we get so enchanted with blaming ourselves? What is excessive and healthy self -blame?

Grant Dewar PhD (28:18.351)
Okay, so self -blame is this allocation of responsibility and I like to think of it as being a very busy thought and we like to be busy in our society. We’ve got to be busy, busy, busy. If we’re busy doing something, we’re achieving something and self -blame is about this allocation of responsibility which is not about sitting with our pain, not about sitting with our suffering, but like,

pointing the finger at ourselves for what we’ve done. It’s this sort of really nasty thing. Once again, we talked about earlier on Brene Brown, talked about the lizard voice in the shower, the thing that creeps up on us four o ‘clock in the morning and starts jabbering in our ear. That’s that nasty self -critical voice. We get enchanted with blaming ourselves because it gives our mind something to do.

but it’s not actually addressing the real problem because addressing the real problem actually requires work. And sometimes we’re avoidant of actually wanting to do the real work. So excessive self -blame is being stuck in a place where we’re finger pointing at ourselves, you’re to blame for doing this, blah -de -blah -de -blah, you know.

you’re so stupid for doing that, all that sort of stuff. And we can come up with some really toxic, horrible language in doing that, right? So we’re being very polite in the sort of words we’d call ourselves. So that’s excessive self -blame. So healthy self -blame is, okay, I was responsible for sending that text message to the wrong person.

Rhoda Sommer (29:46.798)
Oh yeah.

Grant Dewar PhD (30:09.135)
I was not careful in what I did. I meant to send it to my sister and instead I had this person in my mind and I chose her name and I pressed send on that and I need to blame myself for being not very careful with my texting. It’s like those messages I send at two o ‘clock in the morning that everyone regrets. So there should be a basic rule. Don’t send a text at two o ‘clock in the morning.

Don’t engage in social media responses at two o ‘clock in the morning. That’s the way in which we sort of say, okay, what is it that I needed to do that could have prevented that problem from occurring? And now that problem has occurred, what do I need to do to respond to it? So that’s healthy self blame is when we hold the space, stop the finger pointing and allow that incident.

tell us something about ourselves that we can respond to. And that’s one of the pathways to self -forgiveness. It’s, as we said earlier on, that restorative response, that renewal response. Does that make sense, Rhoda?

Rhoda Sommer (31:22.734)
Absolutely, absolutely. I often tell my clients that they’re acting like they have bodies buried in the basement, which usually makes them laugh, but does not seem to move them from seeing themselves as being unforgivable. How can we go about giving ourselves a fair trial?

Grant Dewar PhD (31:44.303)
Wow, thank you. Look, there’s so many questions here that really shows you’ve gone through this book and really understand the essence of it, Rhoda. So thank you so much for the work that you’ve done to understand what this is about. So I give an example of the fair trial in the book. So yes, we do act like we have bodies buried in the basement. But for example, if there’s no real body there, but it might be, oh,

That relationship that I destroyed by making a bad decision, right? That can be like a body buried in the basement, right? Now, if we give ourselves a trial, okay, if that was a criminal offence, how many years in jail would you get for it? Okay? And we all know that if we examine it really, we would get no time. In fact, the court wouldn’t even consider it. And yet, we’re holding ourselves in our own private jail of misery for years. And so the question is,

We’ll address this with regards to guilt, but the question is, what have you actually broken? What do you need to do to restore that break? Now, if you can’t restore that relationship with that person, how might you teach your loved ones to never do that to a person? How might you make sure that another relationship in the future,

is a place where you don’t repeat that mistake that destroyed that relationship. Now if you want to give yourself a fair trial, what our justice system should be about is about serving time, doing penitence, which is what penitentiaries used to be about, and restoring ourselves to functioning in society. That’s what our justice system should be doing.

And if we’re going to be just with ourselves, we need to understand what we’ve done to cause that break with ourselves or with a person or with an event or with our community or whatever it is. See what it is that happened and how do we make the right amends to restore the situation, take action that takes us into the future or how do we learn from that?

in a way that assists us to live our lives fully and more fruitfully. Does that make sense?

Rhoda Sommer (34:26.478)
Mm, absolutely. Yes, I really like that a lot. A fair trial. I think that’s a good idea. Tell us about mindful attention or reflection and how it can bring us more skills in perspectives.

Grant Dewar PhD (34:43.311)
Okay, well, one of the things I spend a chapter on is perspective taking. And perspective taking…

Rhoda Sommer (34:51.15)
And I think that’s such an important skill for all of us in so many situations.

Grant Dewar PhD (34:55.663)
Exactly. So a perspective, there’s a thousand different ways to take perspectives. But for example, just sometimes standing literally in a different place in the room can give us a different perspective of what’s going on. And people do this in therapy and chair work and so forth. If I sit in the place where the person is and observe myself from their perspective, what do I see? You know?

There’s another perspective of, if I look back on this experience that I’m having in 10 years time, what would that look like? If I look at this particular issue that I’m going on from when I was a child and I observed myself as an adult, what would I see? There’s all sorts of different things that we can do to reveal different aspects of what we see because our mind is all the time trying to get rid of information and

That process, because if we took in all the information that was coming at us from the world, we just couldn’t function. And so we often get into a tunnel vision and see things from only one perspective. And it’s opening ourselves up to more perspectives. And this is where mindful attention is really important. So mindful is being present in the moment.

and attending to that thing with all of our mind focused on that. And that can be a very useful experience. And I’ve talked about tunnel vision, but if we say, okay, let’s allow ourselves to rise above the situation and look at it down from a helicopter view and then give it our full attention from a different perspective, right? Reflection.
is also a process of perspective taking because our reflection is necessarily something outside of us. When we look in a mirror, we’re looking at something that’s actually distant from us and we can examine ourselves from that space. And so you would know that also we use this in terms of language that our reflective conversation could be IK Rotor. When you say,

that you’ve never covered this in eight years. I understand from what you’re saying is that this is a place of great interest, but it’s also a little bit perplexing that you haven’t done that. Now, does that sound like something that’s reflective of your experience?

Rhoda Sommer (37:37.902)
Yes. Yep.

Grant Dewar PhD (37:38.863)
Yeah, so that’s reflective language, okay? So we can check with ourselves, we can check with others by being reflective about saying, is this what I’m really thinking? Is that, you know, I’ve seen in the education process, just saying back to someone what they’ve said to me can be really revealing because people have never heard it from outside themselves before.

So that they are all perspective taking skills. And when we understand that that perspective reveals something, what will reveal, and this is something that’s the perspectives of the doorway to knowing what we truly value. So we all are individuals. We all have ways in which we value things that are just natural to us. Like, you know, some of us prefer

mango ice cream, some of us prefer vanilla ice cream and there’s no telling why we have those likes or dislikes but that is like a value, right? Some of us we want to serve others, some of us will want to engage in action that’s of our own volition, we want to build things and do things. They can come from the values that we have about care or about creativity.

right? There’s no right or wrong to it, it is what it is. And perspective taking can help us reveal the sort of preference we have that allow us to take certain perspectives and why we do things, why we feel about things the way we do and that’s all part of the process of self -discovery that when we’re in pain we are discovering something about ourselves,

that when we take a perspective on it, reveal something. And now this is, I’ll just loop back to pain. Pain can also tell us what we don’t want to be. Okay, so we’re in pain. You see, you’re saying people get stuck in that self blame stuff. If people openly examine it and see what it is, it’s telling them something about themselves that they don’t want to be. But…

Rhoda Sommer (40:07.918)
Yeah, that’s right.

Grant Dewar PhD (40:08.399)
Okay, so the thing is, if you then take a complete about face and look in the other way and you put that blame behind you, what are you actually pointed towards that you actually want to be as opposed to what you don’t want to be? So that’s another skill of perspective taking is turning around and taking another view of what takes me away from that blame, right? What is the action I need to take, right? So that’s a perspective taking process as well.
that will also help reveal what we value. Does that make sense, Rhoda?

Rhoda Sommer (40:41.484)
Mm -hmm. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Mm -hmm. Absolutely. Yeah, I really like that a lot. Excessive guilt is something I try to help clients recognize, but they get so stuck in the weird comfort it offers. And I talk about weird comfort a lot. How can you help me to help them see it more clearly? Because I’m sure this is happening in my audience.

Grant Dewar PhD (41:07.171)
Yeah, yeah. So look, once again, guilt is we have broken something and we are truly to blame. So there’s no sort of prevarication about it. We’ve done something that has broken something. Now, excessive guilt is when we get stuck in that weird comfort of we now have a role of being guilty. And that can have its own comfort in that.

it helps us to organize our world. If I’m a guilty person, I can never engage in that sort of job. So I’m never gonna be challenged and that has its own weird comfort, right? I’m guilty of, you know, smashing a relationship. I can never have a relationship again because I’m so terrible at relationships.

because I always break them. And then we’ve got the comfort of never stretching ourselves to make a relationship work again. So the weird comfort comes from having a defined role, which we can accommodate ourselves to. Because to actually work on that, okay, and this is one of the reasons why self -forgiveness is such an important skill, is that when we try to make restoration,

Rhoda Sommer (42:25.294)

Grant Dewar PhD (42:37.295)
And we might make a mistake in that. You know, like I’ve seen people say, go up to people and say, look, I’m sorry I’ve done that. And they get rebuffed in doing that. Right? We can see people who try to gain new skills and they don’t get it quite right the first time. And, oh, I’m a total failure at this. I, you know, I can never do anything about it. But the whole thing is, is that learning new skills requires us to make mistakes.

to fail but to fail well, to make mistakes and make mistakes that are beneficial, to learn from. And we need to be able to forgive ourselves for stretching out into the unknown, you know, doing new things, learning new skills, making new relationships, doing things that are outside our comfort zone. And to get unstuck requires an effort. And…

Excessive guilt keeps us stuck because it has its own weird comfort zone. Getting unstuck requires us to get discomforted. We have to get outside that zone, right? And the issue is, and look, in dealing with people with addictions, in going through education processes with them,

What I’ve seen most clearly in my own experiences is purely anecdotal, is what gets a lot of people out of addiction is having an important relationship that they need to make work. And so love is the key and where people have something that they’re prepared to take a risk for because it’s so worthwhile and that might be a loving relationship with a partner or with a child.

sometimes with the community and so forth. That allows people to take the risk to get outside of their comfort zone and make all the changes that are necessary to make life work in a new way, in a way that they value. And that comes back to us understanding what we value, what is important for us, how is this value a more important thing?

than that value that we have of that weird comfort. Okay, it’s because everyone wants to protect themselves and we find very strange way to protect ourselves. You know, this is what all these bad behaviors can be about, you know, because they work at the time. You know, I don’t know if you do any work with Gable Marte from Canada, but he talks about, yeah, he talks about people’s addictions as being their saviors, okay? That, you know, being on that substance.

If you weren’t on that substance, you might have committed suicide. But now you’ve come to this point, do you actually still need that substance? Do you still need to commit suicide? Or are you prepared to work towards life? Okay? So the excessive, there’s a chap in, Orford is his name. He talks about addictions being excessive appetites. And yeah.

guilt can be one of those things we get addicted to, we have an excessive appetite for. Do we need to reduce that appetite for that and increase our appetite for what we actually value? Okay, and so that’s once again a way of dropping the excessive nature of this experience and saying, okay, I accept it for what it is, but I can now move towards something that I need to move towards.

Rhoda Sommer (46:26.732)
Mm -hmm. Ah, I like that a lot. What final points would you like to cover? And then do remind my audience about the title of your workbook.

Grant Dewar PhD (46:38.767)
Okay, so my workbook is called the Self -Forgiveness Workbook, Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self -Blame and Find True Self -Acceptance. And what I outline in the book is the importance of recognizing story to use compassion as a lens by which to view things and then we can shift old beliefs by

by these new perspectives. And one of the keys to us moving forward is to understand what we truly value. And then in doing that work, we can then understand what we need to free ourselves from, the things that are poisoning us, that we need to drop that cup of poison we’ve been sipping from and pick up the healthy cup of water that refreshes our soul.

But in doing the work of self -forgiveness, it will have responsibilities. So for example, one of the things that we find with addiction is that people have to face, once they come out of addiction, they have to face all the problems of life. They might have to face the restitution and renewal and restoration work, but they have to do that without the crutch of the thing that they are dependent upon. And that’s…

where a lot of relapse occurs. So the work of self -forgiveness is like coming out of addiction in that we have to understand that we’ve gone through a process of gaining skills, we’ve gone through a process of gaining perspective. And the thing is we’re going to stumble towards our future. It’s like a baby getting up and walking, right? You don’t expect an 18 month, I’m sorry.

a 12 month old to get up and sprint across the yard. You will understand they’ll wobble around, they’ll fall over, they’ll giggle, they’ll cry, all that sort of stuff. They’ll do all sorts of things that you don’t expect. They’ll pull things down off tables when they’re reaching, grabbing for things. Things will happen when a baby’s learning to walk. And we have to treat ourselves with the same love and care and compassion we would as teaching a baby to work.

Grant Dewar PhD (49:05.743)
to walk and that’s one of the responsibilities of self -forgiveness. Then we need to actually plan our life out to live out those values that we’ve discovered to actually do things with our life where we’ve crowded out our experience with like spending hours in guilt and self -blame and doing things to try and avoid that. We now have to embrace our new life and

learn what self -forgiveness has taught us and put that into action. And one of the ways in which it’s important to do that is to also to share what we have learned with others. And I think Rhoda, your experience of podcasting is very much about that sharing of your own life experience and the experience of others so that you are releasing others to short circuit that journey. They don’t have to go through years of torment.

to get to a new result if they actually take these new skills on. And then that’s the living the life. A life of self -forgiveness is allowing yourself to make those useful mistakes, to have those useful failures and then to transform that into something that provides a medium for growth and expansion and making this world the beautiful place that it is. So that’s about

Rhoda Sommer (50:35.534)
So if you’ve made it this far, I just want to take a moment to thank you for listening right through the whole thing and to express my gratitude for following yet another episode. You can follow me on Instagram at Rhoda on couples. I’m trying to step up my social media game.

Thanks for listening.

5 1 vote
Article Rating


About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Download your FREE checklist



Would love your thoughts, please comment.x