TTC: How do you forgive yourself when something happens and you feel you are to blame? Shame, blame and resentment are big part of a fertility journey for many of us. Forgiveness is how we heal – but it’s hard to achieve, even when we know we should.

I heard a beautiful story this week from Alice Walker, about an African tribe and their forgiveness culture – it really touched me. It goes like this:

A Forgiveness Culture

In rural village in Africa, a man had gone against the rules and rituals of the tribe. The Elders of the tribe asked him to come to the village meeting place and the tribe made a large circle around him and asked him to stand in the middle.

One by one, each member of the tribe started to tell him how he had helped them, where he had made a difference, all the kindnesses that he had shown them through his life. They told him how loved he was, how important his presence was to the tribe. This went on for two whole days. When it was over, the circle was broken and everyone celebrated that the man had come home to them again, and the man felt that he belonged once more.

Importantly, the tribe had never rejected him, it was the man who that had forgotten his connection to the tribe. Out of his mistaken perception of separation he had acted in ways that weren’t healthy for the tribe. Far from berating or shaming him, they rehabilitated him by reminding him of his goodness. They showed him who he really was.

Beautiful.

It’s a great reminder that we can all be healed by compassion rather than punishment. When you do something wrong, when you mess up, when you act in a way you wish you hadn’t – you can come back from it. Rather than punish yourself or tell yourself off, you can remind yourself gently, that yes, you may have messed up, but you are human, and that is what humans do. You are not a bad person.

Self-identifying with the problem

The situation that you find yourself in might be far from ideal – but so often you self-identify with the problem. For example, on a fertility journey you might find yourself saying, ‘My eggs are bad’ and move straight on to, ‘I am bad’.

What this does is reinforce your own sense of unworthiness and shame. Can you relate? I know I can.

Kindness heals

Forgiveness is a gentle process. Notice how you speak to yourself when something difficult happens. Rather than blaming yourself can you be conscious that it’s the situation that’s difficult – not you.

Supporting yourself, being kind, using soft words are a much better way of dealing with disappointments when things go wrong. Notice your part in the problem, but also balance these thoughts by reminding yourself of your goodness too. It could be as simple as ‘I know messed up, but I’m good person. Next time this happens I will try to learn from my mistakes and not do it again.’ This is wisdom. This is you.