The only way to truly forgive ourselves is to forgive others. Here’s how it works: When we judge people, we believe our judgments are related to who we think they are or what we think they’ve done. On one level, there is truth to this. On a deeper, unconscious level, however, our judgments of others have nothing to do with what we think of them, but are actually related to what we think of ourselves.
This process is called projection. It is an unconscious defense mechanism that enables us to avoid experiencing our own guilt by seeing other people as the guilty ones. By projecting onto others what we don’t like about ourselves and seeing them as having negative qualities, not us, we end up feeling good about ourselves, despite having done nothing to eliminate the guilt, shame, and self-loathing that is embedded in our unconscious mind.
It’s all still there. We haven’t gotten rid of it. We’ve just swept it under the rug, so to speak. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.”
Walter E. Jacobson, M.D., in “Forgive to Win”
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