There is a famous quotation that does a good job of illustrating the importance of forgiveness: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Leaders need to be able to move forward from their mistakes and forgive themselves in order to lead their team in a positive and effective way.
When we talk about forgiveness, we are not talking about excusing, condoning, tolerating, or forgetting that one has been hurt because of the actions of another, rather, letting go of negative thoughts and behaviours towards the offender or ones self (McCullough, Root, & Cohen, 2006).
Research has shown that greater self-forgiveness is associated with increased self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, and lower levels of depression (McCullough, Root, & Cohen, 2006).
Task: Handwrite a letter to your past self. What does your past self need to hear?
Why: Just as the letter from your future self is a potent form of clarifying your compassionate intentions, the letter to your past self is supercharged forgiveness.
Take your time with this exercise. If emotions stir up, that’s completely normal and to be expected. Be kind to yourself (and your past self) as you go through this exercise. If you need to stop, that’s OK and understandable. You’ve been practicing forgiveness, and now you get to put it in practice in the most impactful way: on your childhood self.
You’ve got this!
Emmons, R. A. (2020). Positive psychology. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from http://noba.to/9z4jf5xe