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The Power of Forgiveness, Part II: The Healing Power of Forgiving Ourselves (Episode 15)

The Power of Forgiveness, Part II: The Healing Power of Forgiving Ourselves (Episode 15)


Welcome to part two of our conversation about forgiveness. As we shared in our last episode, we noted a distinct and organic trend emerge through some of our previous topics.

Whether we were talking about good ego vs. bad ego, cultivating relationships in our lives, or wrestling with fear, George and I noticed some element of forgiveness was required to move through these opportunities and challenges to truly create a pathway toward living beyond your default.

⚡ Go Deeper: What It Means to Forgive Others (+ Why It Matters)

In the first part of our conversation on forgiveness, we started with the external expression of forgiveness. More specifically, we focused exclusively on what it means to forgive others. We explored what forgiving others can (and should) look like, what it doesn't look like, and what benefits we reap as a result of leaning more into a mindset that embraces forgiveness.

Of course, our ability to forgive others is only one part of the forgiveness equation. Much like other "big life concepts" such as love and happiness, our ability to express and bestow forgiveness to others begins with our ability to find forgiveness and self-compassion within.

Today, for the second part of this conversation, we are turning inward to reflect on the importance of forgiving ourselves, as well as what it looks like in practice, and how it helps us propel forward.


  • When did George first realize forgiving himself was part of the package deal, so to speak, when it comes to living a life beyond your default?

  • Why do so many people struggle to forgive themselves?

  • What about those moments where we may feel forgiving ourselves isn't enough – we also need the ability to atone or perhaps desire the forgiveness of others?

  • How does our ability to forgive ourselves correlate to our conversation regarding the language we use to talk to ourselves about ourselves? And why does recognizing this connection matter?

  • What are some of the benefits we've experienced as we've learned to be more forgiving with ourselves? And what does the science say?

  • How can we tell the difference between moments when forgiving ourselves is required and when it's not because we've actually done nothing wrong?

  • What does forgiving ourselves look like in practice?

  • What advice does George have to those who are truly struggling to find a way to forgive themselves, perhaps because they feel they are beyond redemption?


Research + Resources

How self-forgiveness affects us (NIH)

  • "Empirical evidence suggests that self-forgiveness is linked with high self-esteem, low neuroticism and low levels of anxiety and depression. Similarly, it has been found to be positively linked with positive emotions, and with a lack of shame."

  • "... self-forgiveness has been found to reduce procrastination. More specifically, among students who reported high levels of self-forgiveness for procrastinating studying for the first examination, procrastination on preparing for the subsequent examination was reduced. The above finding suggests that self-forgiveness for past wrongs allows for forward movement toward goal pursuit by reducing procrastination tendencies."

Fostering Self-Forgiveness: 25 Powerful Techniques and Books

This list includes numerous valuable resources and techniques. During this specific episode, George took us through a practical exercise involving the following affirmations:

  1. I am worthy of forgiveness.

  2. I am human, and sometimes I make mistakes.

  3. I can learn from my mistakes.

  4. I forgive myself for what I did.

  5. No one is defined by one mistake or one incident.

  6. I can let go of feelings of guilt and shame.

  7. I can forgive myself, as I would forgive others.

  8. I deserve to treat myself with compassion and kindness.

  9. I love, forgive, and accept myself with all of my imperfections.

  10. I am worthy of others’ love and acceptance, just as I am.

  11. By accepting responsibility for what happened, I can achieve personal growth.

  12. I deserve to be able to move on with my life.

  13. I welcome kindness, compassion, and love into my life.

  14. I care about others and am accountable for my actions.

  15. I am wiser today than yesterday because I have learned from my mistakes.

  16. I deserve to speak kindly to myself.

  17. Making mistakes is an opportunity to gain wisdom.

  18. Forgiveness is a strength.

  19. Punishing myself forever is unhelpful to me and others.

  20. I will continue to live in line with my values as best I can, as I always have.

Listen to the episode to participate in this affirmations exercise. Take note not only the thoughts and feelings that arise, but also of the physical sensations that you experience, as well. Here's a great chart to help you decipher any physical feelings that may arise:


As I share in this episode, I was quite surprised at how I reacted emotionally and physically to the experience of this guided exercise with George.


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Episode Transcript

Liz Moorehead: Welcome back to Beyond Your Default. My name is Liz Morehead and is always I'm joined by George B. Thomas. How are you this morning?

George B. Thomas: I am doing really good. I am excited, Liz, to see where this conversation goes because while I have done what we're talking about, I don't know if I've ever unpacked that. I've done what we're talking about

Liz Moorehead: And what's interesting for me about this is that this is something I have actually prioritized as one of the top things in my psychological sphere that I've been working on this year is the forgiveness of the self. Let's go ahead and loop the listeners in. So this is part two of our conversation about forgiveness. If you missed last week, I would encourage you to go back and listen to it, but you certainly don't need to listen to it to start with this one.

But as we shared in our last episode, we noted a distinct and organic trend emerging through some of our previous topics. And it didn't matter if we were talking about good ego versus bad ego or cultivating relationships in our lives or wrestling with fear. You and I noticed that there was some element of forgiveness that was required to move through either these opportunities or challenges to truly create that pathway forward in terms of living beyond your default.

Now, in that first part of our conversation on forgiveness, we started with the external expression, what it means to forgive others and what does it look like, what doesn't it look like, why it's so important, what are the benefits we reap and so on and so forth. But today for the second part of the conversation, we're turning this conversation inward to reflect on the importance of forgiving ourselves as well as what it looks like in practice and how it helps us propel forward. So yet, this is something where I am very interested in this conversation, not only on behalf of our listeners because like I said, forgiveness is incredibly important, but this is also something I'm working on as well, and I think it's something we all have to work on to some degree.

George, let me start our conversation today with a question. When did you first realize forgiving yourself was part of the package deal, so to speak, when it comes to living a life beyond your default?

George B. Thomas: First of all, Liz, let me just say that I also believe that I'm probably going to be teaching myself today. One of the fascinating things about this podcast is things will come out of my brain and I'll have to re-listen or think about what I just said. Now, to your question, I realized it at a very young age, but there's a difference between realizing something and implementing something.

Okay? So when I say young age, I'm talking like 19, 20, right? Because unfortunately I had a very interesting beginning of my life, and as I've told a couple times on this podcast, the story of my math teacher and telling me I would never amount to anything and me, the only me being able to make the decision to drop out of high school, which listen, if there's a way not to start your life, for me, that was a way that man, dude, why would you do that?

Why are you that stupid? Why would you let somebody else impact your life? Now what are you going to do? You can't even read or write. Your grammar sucks. You're bad at math. I'm purposely running through narratives that would go through my brain for years and years and years, and I was like, I can't live in this mental waste dump. And so I've started to realize, to move forward, to gain traction, to become unstuck in this just toxic waste dump of mental bull crap.

How do I do this? How do I go? Where do I go? I actually was a pastor of a Nazarene church. He was the pastor of my grandparents' church, had a conversation with me about forgiveness, forgiving the math teacher, but also forgiving myself for the actions. The very interesting thing my math teacher hurt me once I continue to hurt myself over and over and over again.
And when you realize that right there, a lot of what we're going to talk about is going to be predicated on what I just said of when you don't forgive yourself and you rerun the narrative, you are punching yourself in the face or the gut repeatedly, even though the other person, and by the way, sometimes there isn't another person in this scenario, in my case, there was another person, and there has typically been, but sometimes I just do bad stuff to my just I make bad decisions. I don't know if you humans out there make bad decisions. Sometimes I do this. But the thing is, and again, going back to your question is the realization of and trying to do and doing the best that I could along the way. But I still don't know if I am a master at what we're talking about.

I think I've gotten really good at it. I think I've shortened the length of time it takes me, but again, with practice comes greatness, high school dropout. I've been through a divorce, I've just made a lot of bad decisions. I put myself in places where I don't belong. And one of the encapsulating moments, actually, if you think what I was talking about like 18, 19, 20, the education of understanding that you have to forgive yourself to about a year and four months ago at this point when you, Liz asked me, what does it look like if you show up as a whole ass human?

That was kind of an unlock moment for me of like, I know these things. I've tried to achieve these things, but you know what? It's just time in my life to actually do this thing fully, to forgive myself fully, to accept who I was and who I am and who I will be in the future.
But I can only be who I will be in the future if I'm not weighted down, if I'm not stuck in that toxic waste dump. And last week, by the way, the peanut butter of this jelly episode last week, I talked about the 1% that can turn into a flame and just combust. When you don't forgive others, I feel like I need to run the narrative for people's brain is if you don't clean up 100% of the toxic waste dump, it will still drip through and corrode other portions of your brain that you're not paying attention to.

Liz Moorehead: What I find fascinating about what you're saying here, it aligns with, quite frankly, the parallel I drew while I was helping us prepare for this episode and doing the research, I noticed that there was a direct correlation between one's ability to forgive oneself and our ability to speak well to ourselves about ourselves. Now, for those of you who have been listening, we've done a previous episode on on the importance of the language we use to talk to ourselves about ourselves because our thoughts and the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves conditions us to perceive reality in a certain way.

But there was this particular quote that jumped out at me that I wish I could remember where I found it. I was scrolling on Instagram and I just happened to see it, and it just really just hit me in the face. You will always be limited by the story you tell yourself about who you are and what your identity is.

And I've noticed in times of my life where I have really struggled to forgive myself, the story I then tell myself about myself is drastically colored in a very, very negative light. So what will happen is that you will create artificial limitations in your life about who you are, what you're capable of, and more importantly what you are deserving of based on whether or not you can just look at yourself on the mirror and be like, Hey, yeah, I kind of screwed that up. I kind of screwed that up and I have to be able to move through that.

George B. Thomas: Well, and I think part of that, Liz piggybacks on the fact you're doing that based off of artificial futures that you've put inside of your brain. Meaning if I didn't do that thing, I could be here. If I didn't do that thing, I could be over here. And one thing that I know as humans, the grass is always greener on the other side. And so instead of living your reality or living your truth, being able to fantasize about these false futures that you could have had is one of the worst things that you can do because you can't go back. And I love that you brought up quotes because by the way, I just have to say I love Oprah for so many different reasons. A couple of years ago, she was at Inbound and she was one of the guest speakers and I was down for everything that she had to say.

I love her story. I love her podcast. She does a really interesting podcast that we can share a link to in the show notes. But her that around this topic that we're having today, she says, forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward. And when I think about that, and we're literally on a podcast called Beyond Your Default, which if we translated it, it's moving past, moving forward, like getting to a place and this idea of just giving up on hope that the past could have been any different. It just is what it is, is the unlock to get you to where you actually need to go. And instead of fantasizing about a false future, it's being able to live fully in the one that you create.

Liz Moorehead: Well, this segues nicely into the part of the conversation I wanted to have right now, which is what are some of the different ways in which people struggle to forgive themselves? So you've spoken a bit here about these false aspirational futures that we feel are now outside of our reach. What are some other reasons do you think that people struggle to forgive themselves?

George B. Thomas: There's going to be people that are going to love what I'm about to say, and there are going to be people who hate what I'm about to say. And what I have figured out over time myself and others around me is that we are really bad at understanding how wonderfully made we are, how exactly we are what we're supposed to be, how we have been designed for a purpose, how we are spectacular and beautiful. And we don't use those words towards ourself very often. And it's funny because there's this layer of me that because of so many years trying to be humble, go back and listen to the episode that I would not speak of myself this way, and I see that other people don't really say, I am who I am, and that's good enough. That's actually exactly what I'm supposed to be. And so we don't necessarily forgive ourselves because we don't think as high of ourselves as we should.

It's okay in my mind that we put ourself on a little bit of a pedestal. Now, not narcissistic, not egotistical, but listen, we wake up every morning and we have the ability to be or do anything that we want to be. The only thing that is limiting us is ourselves. And what's fun is this conversation that we're having, the unforgiveness of historical things or the unforgiveness last week of other people is one of the major or two major hurdles that we put in our way. And so preparation for this episode, you sent a couple articles. One, I was like, Ugh, this is death. To read through it. I'm quickly realizing I would much rather watch some YouTube videos or some TED talks than get into the psychological journal, blah, blah, blah, whatever it's now, don't get me wrong, I pulled some stuff out of there and there's some stuff that I was like, Ooh, that's a very good talking point.

But you sent this other article and where I sit was like, oh man, I want to read this every day. I should make a recording of this so people can play it so they can listen to it. And then all of a sudden, my brain, I flipped a switch and I was like, oh my God, this would actually be difficult for old George to do. This would be difficult for old George to hear. Old George wouldn't believe these things.

And what it is is Liz sent this article, and there's a lot of good resources by the way. We'll put it in the show notes. It has 20 self-forgiveness affirmations. I'm going to read some of these. And when I read some of these, what I want you to do, first of all, and I'm not going to get all woo-hoo here, but as I'm reading this as you listen to this podcast episode, I want you to close your eyes. I want you to pay attention to your body. And what I want you to pay attention to your body is I want you to pay attention to the comfort and the way that you start to breathe, either slower or if you get uncomfortable. When you hear these things and you're applying these things that I'm reading to yourself as you're hearing them.

Liz Moorehead:

I think it might be beneficial for our listeners. I'm going to do that and then I'll report at the end how I'm feeling.

George B. Thomas: Yes. Yeah, I think that's good. So listeners, you're going to do this too. Close your eyes and just take a deep breath. You can think about yourself, think about your body. Inhale, exhale, pay attention to your chest, like expanding and then contracting. And just take a couple breaths. And then I want you to think about if you woke up every morning and you said to yourself, I am worthy of forgiveness. I am human, and sometimes I make mistakes. I can learn from my mistakes. I forgive myself for what I did. No one is defined by one mistake or one incident. I can let go of feelings of guilt and shame. I can forgive myself as I would forgive others. I deserve to treat myself with compassion and kindness. I love forgive and accept myself with all of my imperfections. I am worthy of others' love and acceptance just as I am.

By accepting responsibility for what happened, I can achieve personal growth. Now, I'm going to pause there, and when you're ready, go ahead and open your eyes, but that was only 11 of the 20. And what I want you to honestly do, and Liz, I'm going to get your response here in a minute, is first of all, listeners, if you would like something created around all 20 and a little bit of music and whatever that you could listen to on a daily basis, you just need to let me know. I'll create that thing. But I need you to be honest with yourself and be like, how did that make me feel? So Liz, when you were listening to that, unpack where your brain was going,

Liz Moorehead:

One of the things that I have been working on, and we talked about this in previous episodes, is understanding what feelings are when they manifest in specific parts of your body. I think we talked about this during the fear episode. I literally was a 40-year-old woman who had to be shown a chart about what it means when you feel feelings in certain parts of your body. So I can now tell you my first immediate reaction, and I am someone, by the way, who has a daily meditation practice. I spend a lot of time doing breath work. I spend a lot of time doing these things. I immediately felt anxiety. I felt immediate anxiety starting to gather in my chest. I could feel the immediate resistance of this is okay for others, and this is not okay for me.

And I'll be brutally honest when I think about the answer to my own question of why do people struggle to forgive themselves, it goes back to a conversation you and I have had a thousand times, which is what do you do when you run into old versions of yourselves?

The thing is, is that anytime we make a mistake, anytime we have some sort of failure in our lives, that is a moment for us to grow, to move through, but sometimes we're going to run into the consequences of our own actions over and over and over again, and we have to meet that old version of ourselves again. And that's really hard sometimes to deal with depending on what it is toward the end of it. It was something where I allowed myself to just observe the feelings I was having. I can feel the feelings of anxiety in my chest, but I'm going to stick with this. And I felt a lot better toward the end.

But I think what it really illuminated for me is that I think sometimes we think we are more self-compassionate than we actually are, and that we are intensely damaging to ourselves just because we are a human who happened to make a mistake maybe once, maybe twice, maybe thrice, who knows? Sometimes it takes us all a while to figure out, Hey, the hot stove is hot. Maybe we shouldn't keep touching it. Some of us learned the hard way, you know what I mean? But that's what arose for me, and I was very surprised by it and how immediate it was.

George B. Thomas: It's interesting because for me, I knew that I started to because I was down for this, but when I connected my old self to this, I got to this point of why did, because by the way, I got very anxious too when I put my old hat on versus who I am now. And then what's interesting is I broke it down to why did my brain do that? And there's something about I'm worthy of, I forgive myself for I deserve to those narratives that are being put in your brain. It's like, oh. And then it gets to this line. I love forgive and accept myself with all of my imperfections.

We try to stay so clean and so neat and so tidy on the outside because then it's like this perfect fortress of a human that everybody's like, oh, they have their shit together. Yet inside it's this messy toxic, we spend so much time on the exterior and we need to spend so much more time on the interior of ourselves and our brain and this topic that we're having today.

Liz Moorehead: Well think about some of the labels that you were using earlier today about yourself. And I'm going to use these examples, George, not because I think you're holding on to negative connotations of them, but more to illustrate a point, I think when we say things like, for example, my version is I'm not a high school dropout, but I'm a college dropout. I've talked about this quite a bit. I spent a lot of my life just feeling like a perpetual disappointment. I'm just never living up to the expectations of people around me. And so when you carry these stories with you, and this is what I was saying earlier, right, about the importance of the language we use to talk about ourselves. And if we're not forgiving ourselves for things, sometimes it's not even forgiveness. Have you ever noticed that we feel the need to forgive ourselves for things where if you talk to another person, they're just like, there's nothing to forgive.

You Were a human who woke up that day and had a human experience, right? But if you sit there and say, well, I'm a college to drop out. I perpetually disappointed both of my parents. I'm twice divorced. Why do something soul crushing once when you can do it twice for twice the price? And it's one of those things where it's like, well, how do you paint yourself or believe yourself to be deserving of things when you feel like you're perpetually falling on your face or you're using labels that negatively impact you and how you talk about yourself?

George B. Thomas: Yeah, it's so crazy. And Liz, it's funny because you're making me think about something that again, historically that I did, God knew I needed two sets of parents. One set was not going to be enough for this guy. So I have a mom and a dad and a dad and a mom, and I really don't like using the word steps anywhere, like stepmom, stepdad. No. I have two sets of parent. And it's funny because Liz, there was a long time where each set would be like, man, we're proud of you. We're proud of all of you boys. You boys are doing great. I have all brothers, no sisters. And my response was like, external was thanks. Internal was literally like, good talk, bro. Thanks. I couldn't accept the fact that they were proud of who I was or who I was becoming. I was like, well, they're supposed to say that.

But then I realized, no, actually they're not The older I got. And the more I looked at people around me, I was like, oh, there's probably some parents that may not say that because they're just butthole parents or because the kids are just butthole kids, right? There's both sides of that story. But it's funny because now I hear them say that, and again, it comes back to this moving yourself from being stuck living a life beyond your default. But now, when I hear my parents say that or anybody say that, I'm very accepting of those words, and I think it has do with the work that has been forgiving myself for all of the bad decisions daily. That's the thing I want everybody to realize is I make bad decisions daily and in the moment I'll forgive myself for the bad decision, learn the life lesson from it.

And one of the things I want people to take away, Liz from this conversation or ask themselves, are you enabling in your life true forgiveness or fake forgiveness? And this would be towards you or towards others? This could pair nicely with last week's episode because here's the thing, and this is a video, a Ted Taco I was watching, and it's a slide in the presentation, but I want to bring it forth in this conversation. You can say, oh, I forgive them or I forgive myself. But if it happens to be temporary, then next week, all of a sudden you're beating yourself over the head again. It's not forgiveness if it's conditional, if I don't ever do it again, if they don't ever do it, that's not forgiveness. If past is ongoing, motivated by fear or anger is anywhere in that conversation, fake forgiveness, not really doing the thing that you need your brain to do for it to be forgiveness.
Now, true forgiveness, if we think about this, it's permanent. It's unconditional. Your state or you state the past is over.

It inspired or it was inspired by love, and it does take time to reach this true level of forgiveness. And again, I love Oprah because on this slide, there's a quote from her that says, true forgiveness is when you can say thank you for that experience. And Liz, I call back to the whole thing that I said about my math teacher for years and years and years. I wanted to punch him in the face. Then I wanted to go back and say, thank you. I don't want to punch myself in the face anymore. By the way,

Liz Moorehead: Personally, I like you in one piece, just from a front capacity, but also work capacity. That'd be great. Let's just keep you whole and Unquenched.

George B. Thomas: Yes.

Liz Moorehead: What I'd love to hear from you though is what are some of the benefits that you've experienced personally in terms of when you started learning to be more forgiving of yourself, what did you see happen? Because you referenced it earlier. Sometimes I give you fun, happy things to consume in preparation for this episode, and then in other times, you're just going to get a big waterfall of scientific research because nobody teaches scientists content marketing principles.

They're just not going to get on camera. You're getting a white paper abstract and a lot of stuff. The research that we looked through, and I'll link this in the show notes, it's from National Institutes of Health, is that it shows obviously that when there are high levels of self-forgiveness in a person, it's linked with high levels of self-esteem, low neuroticism, low levels of anxiety, depression, basically, the kinder you are to yourself, the easier it is to release yourself from the mental prison of your brain. But I would be curious to hear from you as you've gone through this journey, as you've gone through this process of forgiving yourself and integrating all aspects of yourself. When you do this work inward, what are the benefits you see around you?

George B. Thomas: And there's a couple things that come to mind. That's just how my brain works. The first thing I want to share is imagine and all of sudden I'm getting visions a Tony Stark dark. So think about Iron Man and Tony Stark about how he has kind of that generator, that power plant in his chest in any scene. You see, by the way, if you don't watch Marvel and you don't know who Iron Man is, go watch it. This story will make a whole lot more sense. But you always see this glowing from his chest, Liz, when we have unforgiveness in our life, especially against ourself, that lens is cloudy and dirty and there's stuff in the way. And as I would kind of clean up my ish, all the stuff that I wasn't forgiving myself, what I realized is it was almost like I was cleaning that lens.

And one of the things that I have realized that we as humans is we are supposed to shine our light who we are. We're supposed to give it to the world. We are a gift. We are a blessing. It's hard to be that gift. It's hard to be that blessing. It's hard to shine that light if your lens is dirty. And so this idea of doing the internal work of cleaning the lens of letting the light shine and being able to be the best of you for those who need you to be just exactly who you are in their life to help move them to that next place.

So that's one thing that comes to mind is it makes it very easy to do that. Now, what's fun is, the other thing that came to my mind when you're asking this question is how much, when I truly did unlock it, it gave me what I would call a giggle moment, meaning I literally kind of giggled when I made this statement that historically I never would've probably made.
And I put this out on social, and I talked about this idea of being a Jesus loving cigar, smoking whiskey, sipping fast and furious, Tupac listening, Chris Tomlin like human.

And that made me giggle because I was able to put all of these things that the world and me and my own brain historically would tell me that they had to be in these different compartments and only show up for these different people at these different times. But that's not how I was made. They were all in there. They were all me. And being able to show the world like this is really me and not care if I got judged and not care if I got judged. Now I'm going to say that for a third time,

Liz Moorehead: Even

George B. Thomas: Challenge third time, I'm going to say that for a

Liz Moorehead: Third time. I want to push back on that so far.

George B. Thomas: Well, but say it a third time, but here's the thing and not care. If I got judged, now I'm going to finish the sentence because everybody's brain went to the external world judging me for the things that I put out. What I meant is that I would not judge myself for the things that I had become or who I was.

Liz Moorehead: I feel like that's step one, and this is where I'm about to say something where I know after I hop off this episode, I'll be like, now Liz, you know, should take your own advice. But here's where I get really hung up on the language piece of it. Because even if we're sitting here saying, and we're not going to judge ourselves, we're not going to judge ourselves. Yes, step one, the step two to that is, and all of those things are worthy of celebrating. You have to flip that switch where it's not just teaching yourself to not judge yourself. Because I think sometimes what can happen is that if we program our brands to think that way, it's like, and I'm going to talk myself out of judging myself that other people will judge me for no. It's also about standing behind yourself and saying all of these seemingly contradictory things, actually when you blend them together are what makes me unique.

It's what makes me someone worthy of celebrating. And I think this is something where people really forget. We're all little weirdos. We're all little weirdos who love our little weirdo things. My version of it is I will go hard on crazy deep cut classical music and opera debates and fast and furious debates and art and all of these different things. We all have these unique melting pot blends of perspectives and loves and passions and all of these different things that make us uniquely human.

But I think sometimes, especially given the society that we live in right now, think about what people are coached on. If you ever want to succeed on TikTok, you have to niche down. You have to be a very specific version of you. You can only talk about one thing. We're being conditioned to be these very one dimensional. I know we're conditioned to be these palatable versions of ourselves.

Whether that's from, and this isn't obviously throwing this out there at all parents, but the way I was raised, success had to look at very specific kind of way. Success was very narrowly defined, and it took me decades of deprogramming to figure out. I actually had nothing to forgive myself for. One of the things I struggled with is that when I was 14, I was sent from living with my mom to living with my dad. She suffered a mental health crisis. The decision was made that for my welfare, it was best for me to go live with my father. My mother was an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman who I think at some point saw something in the mirror about herself that she did not like and decided she could never look at that again. So when she and I reconnected later in life, one of the things that she said was she could never understand why I had to step away and live with my dad, which first of all was not my choice.
Number one, I didn't have a say in that.

That was the state of Virginia said, this is where she has to go. And then the other piece of that was I carried a lot of guilt around as a 14-year-old. Why was I not more understanding about complex mental health issues that I actually had no business understanding? So I bring these things up because I think sometimes there's not necessarily surface level stuff, but I think sometimes we have to be very honest with ourselves that sometimes the sources of information that feed us this narrative of there's something to forgive, are sometimes not accurate. Sometimes they are incredibly flawed. Sometimes they are coming from people who are for better or for worse, without casting aspersions or judgments upon their character, they are not able to forgive themselves, so they are passing those savings on to you. But I spent decades feeling like a terrible daughter, feeling like I was doing the wrong thing there. And now in hindsight, no, no. That is a completely inappropriate thing to ask a 14-year-old girl to mentally process and handle, and it also is not taking any accountability for what actually happened.

I know that was a big diverging tangent there, but I think it's important to note that sometimes these weird narratives around what we think we actually need to forgive ourselves for are completely,

George B. Thomas: I actually love that you shared that. First of all, I know that there's going to be people out there that are going to hear it and be like, oh, I needed that in my life. And Liz, I would agree with you. Some things that we're labeling things we need to forgive ourself for might not be that. But the thing that came screaming to the front of my brain as you were kind of telling that story is it might not always be truly forgiveness, but it is always going to be truly a lesson that can be learned. So there were multiple lessons that Liz had to learn through that journey.

One of the lessons was, oh, I really don't have to forgive myself, which by the way is great when you realize that it's like one minute you feel a certain way, you have that realization and then all of a sudden you feel like somebody injected you with helium and you're way later and kind of floating a little bit because you're like, oh, wow.

And that's the thing too that I would say about just lessons learned, but forgiveness as well as it doesn't have to be difficult. Once you can get to the place where you can do the thing. At this point, for me, it's almost like, oh, shoot, look, I left the light off. I need to turn the light on. I need to flip the switch now, this is after years of working on this, but now it's as easy as diagnosing a thing and then running it through my mental process. Now, my mental process is hard to explain, but again, going back to the research that you sent over, one of the things that I was like, oh, I need to make sure we unpack this in the episode, is that there's this one section where they talk about the four RSS of self-forgiveness, and this at least gives the listeners a framework to be able to pay attention to after this episode, because here was my biggest fear, by the way, my biggest fear of doing this episode is that you get to the end of the episode and as a listener, you go, Ooh, man, I got a lot of ish I got to forgive myself for we're kind of dredging up the past and all of a sudden you're thinking things and we're asking you to think about being worthy and all of this stuff, and it can get messy quick.

And so I'm like, man, they need some type of rubrics or matrix that they can put this through. And so this article talks about the four Rs of self-forgiveness, which by the way, when you unlock self-forgiveness, you unlock self-belief, you unlock self-love, and then you realize you as self can do anything that you want in the world. Anyway, the four Rs talks about responsibility. The person seeking forgiveness takes responsibility and does not lay blame elsewhere. Second R talks about remorse. So this suggests that the individual should work through difficult emotions like shame to more offense specific emotions like guilt, which are more likely to motivate people to make reparations. So again, this is responsibility, remorse, restoration. The next step is to actively try to make things right, repair relationships and reaffirm any moral values that were broken.

By the way, when you use the word relationship, if your mind immediately went to, this sounds like we're talking external, no, you have an internal relationship with yourself. There is that inner critic, there is that inner brain. There is, without being weird versions of you that you're trying to be and battling again, but repair that relationship internally. Responsibility, remorse, restoration, and then this is the one that I love, I love them all, but renewal. Renewal. This is a place of self-forgiveness, renewed and self-respect. Through this process, the individual achieves moral growth.

I mean, that's where I would want people to get to. You truly can love yourself to the layer or levels that you need to when you get all of this crap out of the way.

Liz Moorehead: It's interesting too, one of the steps that you mentioned in there obviously is remorse, repairing, making things right with people who you potentially may have harmed. I think one of the challenges that, I'll be honest, I've alluded to this over the past 18 months or so, have probably been some of the most challenging. I woke up one day looked around and realized out of fear, I had built an entire life that was only ever going to make me feel alone, miserable and afraid. Then I had to spend a lot of time reckoning with that. I had to spend a lot of time cleaning up the messes of old Liz's of like, man, she made a lot of choices and also along the way, some people got hurt, and that was something I really had to reckon with because one of the challenges I've had in the past, and I'm sure we've all had moments like this in our lives, is that sometimes when we know we have done something wrong and we attempt to right the wrong, we give a genuine apology.

Some people are not always going to accept it. Some people are just like it was the bridge too far, and maybe at some point it'll get better, but that can't be the reason you stall out on forgiving yourself. There has to be this both end mentality of I am not asking for forgiveness with the expectation that I will get it. I am simply apologizing because let's acknowledge what happened. This is the apology that you deserve, and you have to allow the people outside of yourself to have their own experiences with that experience.

The reason why they may not be forgiving, you may have nothing to do with you, or it may just be one of those things where, hey, sometimes we fuck up, sometimes we fuck up big time, but that can't be the reason that you suddenly decide, well, if they are unwilling to forgive me, then I cannot forgive myself.

Yes, and that's where I used to get hung up to go back a bit into my past, I think there are the two types of things where you don't get forgiven or get the forgiveness that you're looking for. In some cases, it's what I alluded to like, Hey, sometimes it's just going to be this thing where that was the straw that broke the camel's back, or for them that was just too big of a thing or it's just going to need some time to heal. But in other cases, the reason why you're never going to get it is because they're wildly unrealistic expectations. My mother was never going to forgive 14-year-old Liz for not cutting her slack, and I had to go through this whole thing of understanding. This is where the script finally got flipped. Finally, one day I had a breakthrough of I need to stop seeking forgiveness from her and realize I need to forgive her for this blind spot and move on. It is a very interesting thing that I think people get stuck on. If there's another person involved and I'm not getting the forgiveness, the absolution, the, Hey, it's okay buddy. We'll get through this. They'll stall. They'll get stuck because if the other person can't do it, am I deserving? I'd love to get your thoughts on that.

George B. Thomas: So yes to all of that. My brain kept going back to, and again, if you haven't listened to last week's episode, we're talking about these things like they're two totally different things almost, but they're so very

Liz Moorehead: Interconnected

George B. Thomas: Very entwined for you to even ask for forgiveness of others, you probably have had to do a little bit of work to forgive yourself for making the bad decision or being part of the bad scenario that ran in, and after you ask for forgiveness, even if they don't give it to you from their mouth verbally, you have done your action, which allows you to then go back inward towards yourself and forgive yourself even more for that thing because you did what you could do, did what you needed to do, and you're right list. Sometimes it takes time, right? Time heals all wounds. They say, I dunno who they are, but that's what they say. I dunno if I believe that, but anyway, my

Liz Moorehead: Point, they is very smart.

George B. Thomas: They is very, yeah, they is very smart, but my point is these are all tied in so tightly, and so I want people to realize that last week one of the things we talked about is asking for forgiveness of others isn't necessarily for them. Does it help them? Yes, but it is literally helping you. It's unlocking the things that need to unlock in you. When you're asking for forgiveness or even forgiving others, it's like unlocking you and the kind of, if I were to take something that I said last week and bring it into this episode, it's like forgiving others and forgiving yourself and asking for forgiveness. These three pieces of this pie, and I talked about that vial of poison that you're willing to drink and it only affects you, it doesn't affect the other person.

It's paying attention to all three of those layers is like we're just going to remove all poison off the table so that everybody can live a better life and not worry about dying to some internal toxic waste dump that then becomes created inside their body, which by the way, we talked about last week in the article that Liz sent over this idea of unforgiveness, high heart rate, blood pressure, all of that.

There are physical things that happen based on the internals that you allow to live inside of your body, and so it's just important for so many reasons.

Liz Moorehead: One of the things that actually also has been very helpful for me, George, is that when I am in that cycle of learning to forgive myself for something that has occurred, that also requires me to speak to somebody else, I've stopped asking for forgiveness. I'm stopped going into those conversations where the goal is to get them to give me the outcome that I need to satisfy myself, and instead it's just literally like, Hey, you just are owed the apology. I've had that conversation with you where it's like, Hey, let's square this up. This was not good. I apologize for it and let them have their own experience because I think when you go into those conversations, particularly if you're looking to find a way to forgive yourself or absolve yourself, if you're going to somebody else and there is some sort of wrong that you perceive that you have inflicted upon them or they feel that the goal shouldn't be to get forgiveness, the goal should just be to what you said in that list of things.

When we talk about what does forgiving oneself actually look like in practice, it's more about ownership and accountability, not actually getting the absolution and forgiveness from somebody. It's just going in and saying like, Hey, I own the thing that I did wrong. That's not cool. You deserve to hear that, and I am sorry. Now, how they react to that is entirely up to them, and they are allowed to have their reaction and you shouldn't be pressuring them into that kind of thing.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I think first of all, I love that so much, and it's funny because you've definitely made my brain pause there as you were talking, because I think if you go into these conversations with yourself internally and with others externally based on ownership and responsibility versus based on goals and expectations, the first one will actually probably give you more of the results that you need, not the results that you want, but the results that you need versus if you come at it the other way with goals and expectations, you're probably layering an extra layer of ish on top of the already ish pile. I'm just going to throw that out there.

There's not a reason or a place for goals and expectations in the conversation of self-forgiveness or forgiveness of others or any of this. It's not the point. It's funny because if I tie back into this, there's one other thing I wanted to make sure, Liz, that I brought up during this, and again, we'll share the resources.

I guess I'm going to be doing a reading also as an additional resource at some point. I don't even know who Carl Jung is by the way, but Carl Jung is a very smart human because there's a quote. I read this and it actually reminded me of a quote from a movie. I think it's called The Coach or something, we Are Not Afraid of. Anyway, I'll just read the quote. So Carl says, the most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely, and the reason I want to end with that quote, the most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely, is I want you as a listener to realize that the conversation that we're having today is a top of the mountain conversation. It is one of the hard things. We might be talking about it like it's relatively easy, but I'm bringing this conversation to you as a 52-year-old male who has made many mistakes and has had many opportunities to fail at self forgiveness and be successful with self forgiveness.

Just don't use this as another point to beat yourself up. Don't use this as another point to judge yourself. Realize, this is one of the things like so many others that we'll talk about on this podcast where you have to have a, I am a grasshopper trying to become a sensei while I'm trying to reach mastery. I'm going to always approach this one as a pupil For those that didn't get my first kind of analogy around this, it's something that I'm always and will forever, always be trying to get better at, trying to learn more, trying to unlock these little pockets that my inner self has gotten really good at saying we fixed, but got really good at still hiding 'em. I got to find those pockets and pop 'em and get rid of 'em and work through 'em.

Liz Moorehead: I want to end this conversation today with a question that is, okay, fine, deeply rooted in a personal request. George, I need you to bring out your youth pastor hat. Are you ready? Okay. Are we ready? Yeah. What advice do you have for those folks who are still struggling to forgive themselves, who may be coming to the end of this conversation and whether they like to admit it or not? There are may be 1, 2, 3 things that they feel that they've done in their lives that are unforgivable, that may make them feel like they don't deserve that type of internal redemption that is required to truly forgive oneself. What do you have to say to them?

George B. Thomas: I like how you set that up because you told me you wanted me to put my youth pastor hat on, which then allows me to actually put on the gloves a little bit here. Listen, God loves you. God forgave you. If God can forgive you, why can't you forgive yourself? The thing is, you can. Now, what I want you to ask yourself is are you choosing not to because that's what life is. By the way. Life is a set of choices. We make good ones, we make bad ones, but at this point in your life, listening to this conversation, if you are battling with the two, three things, four things, 57 things, I don't care how many that you feel are keeping you from being who you want to be, who you should be, who you've always felt like you are destined to be, then I need you to ask yourself, why am I choosing not to forgive myself?

If a God who made me, if a God who loves me, if the people around me have forgiven me or don't think about these things, why have I not made the choice to just set 'em down, to let 'em go, to be lighter, to move forward, to become who you need to become, to become who the world needs you to become? That's what I would say to them. For me, I look at this and I realize I reached a point in my life where I went from who would and why would they forgiveness to? Why shouldn't I, and there was no good reason why I shouldn't.