By now we've heard the standard New Age explanation of our many mis-steps and foibles as we swim through this life: "We are not humans learning to be spiritual but spirits learning to be human." This can neutralize our need for self deprecation when we say something we think we shouldn't have, make a decision that wasn't perhaps the wisest, hurt someone else without malicious intention. Yet in many ways we are harder on ourselves than we are on others when we find ourselves hurting over a pivotal situation and we don't react in the "ideal" way, whatever that is. (There is no "ideal" way).
"Why did I do that?"
"How could I say that?"
"I wish I could do this over."
"If only I had....then..... "
We tax ourselves emotionally, mentally rehashing the particular behavior we condemn, piercing ourselves with self blame. We rewrite the story with preferred hypothetical outcomes that differ from the situational reality. "I'd be successful if ....." "I'd still be married if I hadn't....." "he wouldn't have died if I had just..." The truth is, often we more readily forgive those who hurt us than we do ourselves. Every abuse survivor knows the sting of this one.
What a waste of the Divine energy if we reserve the power of forgiveness more generously for others than for ourselves. We end up creating more burdens for ourselves, more obstacles to our growth.
The self help movement has seen many forgiveness-of-others models which we can re-direct toward self forgiveness but as an abuse survivor, I found that two stand out. A pioneer of the late 80s "healing the child within" movement, John Bradshaw conducted a profound meditation that caused major perception shifts, allowing adults to truly forgive the parent(s) who instilled lasting harm, sometimes even unaware that they had. We were to close our eyes and see the parent as a five year old child -- an innocent -- propelled by fear, dependence, and simply lack of awareness. What did we know at five? Seeing the authority figure as a frightened innocent who knew no better promoted deep healing. A similarly effective technique was utilized in the film Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon's character, carrying crippling emotional wounds from childhood abuse, breaks down tearfully after his therapist, played by Robin Williams, repeats over and over, simply, "It is not your fault. It is not your fault."
Try these technique with yourselves. Take out an old photo of yourself and meditate on it, open eyed. See yourself as the essence of innocence, still. Tell yourself, whatever it is you think you have done, "its' not your fault." It isn't. Look in the mirror and repeat those words to yourself until you feel them in your heart and solar plexus chakras. In your quest to be a caretaker of others, have you neglected the most important component of self care? Be equally compassionate toward yourself. If we truly are Divine energies struggling to understand human experience, shouldn't we exercise self- love, learning as we return to higher places. This is a provocative start.
We are essentially spiritual surfers: if we're lucky this time around, we experience euphoria on the crest and maintain our balance as we ride the latest wave; when we have deeper lessons to learn, we sometimes wipe out and limp back to shore, shaken, but still whole. That's the purpose of our rocky journey: recognizing our wholeness, going home.
Lisa Shaw is an animal communicator, spiritual counselor, and Reiki Master who lives with her three dogs and macaw in South Florida. She is an English professor and metaphysical teacher whosse e-book Illumination: Life Lessons from our Animal Companions, is available on Amazon/Kindle.