I’m Candy Washington – I’m a content creator, author, actress and at my core, I’m a storyteller.
The most powerful story of forgiveness that I’m a part of would probably be with my father. He wasn’t really present in my life and I had to learn how to accept that and see him as a person, not as an ideal and forgive myself for thinking that I was less than without him.
To me, forgiveness means having compassionate accountability for yourself and for others. That really creates a space to let go in a way that removes guilt, blame and shame.
I think forgiveness is challenging because it makes it seem as though you are agreeing that what the person did was ok or that somehow that you were hurt by isn’t justified. So I think sometimes it’s difficult to forgive because you that you are giving away your power but the truth is that it’s the opposite, you are actually empowering yourself with the ability to move on and to let go and to take that negative energy and turning it into something positive that you can use and move forward with.
I think it’s easier to forgive people because if you feel that you have to be forgiven you have to admit that you did something wrong. I think sometimes when you have to admit that you did something wrong it can bruise the ego because the ego wants to stay in the state of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ So to be forgiven means you have to acknowledge that you made a mistake, that you did something wrong and that your actions hurt someone else and that you have to be accountable for those decisions. Sometimes people ask for forgiveness but you can tell it’s very surface like 'Oh yeah I’m sorry' or 'I’m sorry you felt that way' - being kind of dismissive, I think it takes a bigger person to say, 'Please forgive me for what I did.'
For me, being able to ask for forgiveness has really come from a place of self-reflection and self-awareness and acknowledging that you don’t have to have judgment around what happens to you or what you do. We’re all humans and by design we make mistakes. Being forgiven and asking for forgiveness is just a part of our human experience. When you don’t personalize it like, 'I am wrong,' 'I am bad' or 'I am awful' and you kind of allow yourself to have a healthy distance from where you did something wrong and I made a mistake but I am not that mistake and that doesn’t make me wrong, the event and the act is wrong. When you can separate your person from the action it’s much easier to say please forgive me for what I did because you know who I am.
I think it’s imperative that we think about forgiveness not just in our individual lives but also when it comes to the collective consciousness of the world and what’s happening locally, nationally and internationally. I think we need to forgive people who we think are going against what we believe, what we think is right, what we think we should be doing. Once you’re able to forgive past actions and past transgressions then you open up a space for healthy dialogue and you can say this is what I believe, this is what I think, let me actually hear and listen to your perspective. As long as you’re defending your position, you’re not listening and your're not open to learning about a different perspective or someone else’s experience. I can have my opinion and you can have your opinion and they both can coexist without one person being bad and one person being good. As long as we think I’m always right, you’re not growing and you’re not moving forward. I think a lot of our leaders are stuck on 'this is the way we’ve always done it,' this is the way we’re always going to do it that they’re not actually thinking about what’s best and most beneficial now that will create a better world moving forward.
I use forgiveness to move myself forward primarily through self-forgiveness. I tend to be really hard on myself – I always want to get the A+, I want the gold star. I have a lot of inner critic chatter that I have to check so the way I do that is through self-forgiveness. The tool I use is really simple, two words, ‘so what’? I didn’t book that gig I really wanted, so what? I’m still here, I’m still alive, I’m still moving forward, I still have my friends, I still have my family. The world is still spinning. When I’m at peace and happy with myself then I’m showing up for my friends and my family and my audience. I’m showing up in a full way because I’m full first.
The way I nurture my capacity for self-forgiveness is through journaling. I like to write down things like how am I feeling right now? What are the reoccurring thoughts I’m thinking? What are patterns are showing up and looking at them in a loving way and not a critical way? I also meditate – I’ll light a candle and count down and get really still and centered. These are things you can try out this week and see how they work for you!