Rabbi Tanya's Thought for Yom Kippur

Today is the Day of Atonement in the Jewish tradition. It is a time forself-reflection, for repentance and for forgiveness. In Judaism, sincere repentance is always accompanied by forgiveness, and we have to start by"forgiving ourselves".

 Our past, our ego, self-pity, doubts - can be so heavy to bear that we find it difficult, impossible even, to shed them, and to move on forward..We recriminate with ourselves over our mistakes, all the stupid errors we have made. 

We mourn our lost hopes, the hurtful disappointments, deep disillusions and we feel all the wounds to our damaged selves. 

For every one of us, this act of “forgiving yourself” is a challenging and complex process. It may require us to revisit a particularly difficult situation; it can mean facing up to and coming to terms with all the painful emotions experienced at the time. It can bring back times and situations where we find it hard to "forgive ourselves" for getting it wrong, for being off guard. I think “forgiving yourself” is the hardest task in this healing redemption of our emotions.

“Forgiving yourself” means accepting and owning your own mistakes and realizing that you cannot always protect yourself emotionally. As Mike Tyson once said: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." When you're punched, be it mentally or physically, you can become disorientated and then make one mistake after another. We've all been there…… “Forgiving yourself” is about recognising your own determination to get it right, through all the struggles and mistakes, made often with the best of intentions. 

"I have not failed. I have just found 10 000 ways that won't work" said Thomas Edison. I believe “forgiving yourself” is about moving forward to your own best shiny self, embracing yourself the way you are, for good and bad, and enjoying the process of becoming a more honest, courageous and stronger person than you have ever been before.

Listen to Rabbi Tanya's recent BBC Radio Nottingham broadcast: