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The question I have is about self-forgiveness. Is this a separate category, or is it the same? It seems to me that the inability to forgive yourself for your failures, weaknesses, and faults, may in fact be at the root of the inability to forgive others, not in every instance perhaps, but at least in some cases. Maybe, when you can't forgive yourself, deep down you believe that you deserve the terrible things that others sometimes do to you. Through a process of inner connection, the ill treatment of others then gets transformed into an unpleasant reminder of the self-loathing you usually bury deep within you, and your feelings of inferiority are dug up and piled right on top of the hurt you experience directly from the unkind acts. The feelings of guilt and shame you have get projected out into the world, in a sense, showing up as anger and bitterness towards others, the ones who have reminded you of what you normally repress because it is just too horrible to deal with on a daily basis. So as long as you hold onto your own shame, as long as you can't forgive yourself, then by extension it becomes very difficult to forgive others as well. They hurt you, and in doing so they bring your feelings of worthlessness into stark relief.

I hope this isn't too hard to understand, perhaps the point I'm trying to make is a little subtle, maybe even counterintuitive in some sense. The observation is related to an experience I had long ago, in high school, where the one good friend I had suddenly turned his back on me because he wanted to hang out with more popular kids, and he apparently decided I was either an embarrassment or an albatross. I had befriended him in grade school, when he was the fattest kid in class and didn't have any other friends, and was made fun of on a regular basis. He eventually lost a lot of weight, and then suddenly didn't want me around any more. I was hurt and felt betrayed, yes, but it also deepened my sense of self-loathing, it seemed like further verification of what I already suspected, that I was a disgusting, worthless thing deserving of rejection. This was a long time ago now, but I have to admit, I still haven't forgiven this person.

So I wonder, if I could learn to truly forgive myself, to let go of my own sense of shame and guilt for being such a failure, would that be the key to transformation? Is self-forgiveness, learning to accept what you are and what you have or have not done, is this the source of power I seek as I look to become a better and more charitable person?
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