We are humans and part of being human is that we learn by trial and error. That’s just the way it is. Yet, often times when we make “a mistake” or I’d prefer to say, “try something that doesn’t work out well”, we beat ourselves up and punish ourselves……like for a very long time!
We think things like, “I should have known better!” Well, perhaps we may have known better at some level, yet much of how we behave is done from the Emotional side of the brain, not the Rational side. We wanted to feel better. This is not a bad thing to want to feel better. Of course we do! We all just want to be happy! It is not selfish to want to be happy.
Reframing the Story
There is a big difference between saying, “I made a mistake” verses “I am a mistake” or thinking “I am bad”. The latter statements lead to low self esteem and feelings of unworthiness. A feeling of unworthiness holds us apart from all things good. Unworthiness to heal, to have abundance, to get a good job, to be treated with respect and to be loved. If you are not experiencing some of these blessings, perhaps you are not forgiving yourself for something.
When we don’t forgive ourselves, we cant even be much benefit or service to others either because we will never reach our full capacity. We hold ourselves down and this does not serve the world!
Reframing the story helps us see that there is the “person” who made the mistake and there is the “action”. Seeing them as one may come from being told from a young age that “you are a bad girl” or “a bad boy” when you made a mistake verses knowing that “You are good” but the action was bad. We are not our actions. We are a divine spiritual being here having a human experience.
Your actions are not your identity.
Learning to forgive ourselves is crucial. This is not to say that we don’t take ownership for our actions. It is important to acknowledge our mistake, learn from it, apologize to the other people involved and make amends to repair the situation as much as possible…… but not to hate ourselves for it.
Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over. This happens to many of us, but that is how we learn. Hopefully we do it less and less often until we eventually get to a point where we don’t do it at all. I think of the analogy of learning to walk or ride a bike. We don’t usually get it right the first try.
How do we Forgive Ourselves?
I think Understanding and Compassion are the key here. We are not the same person as we were in the past. Our bodies and minds are constantly changing. We can look back at the person that we used to be when we made that mistake and we can understand that person, because we used to be that person.
We can understand what we were thinking, what challenges we were facing at the time, the fears and insecurities that we had and the limitations that we had. We could have had limitations in our understanding, in our resources, emotional limitations or overwhelmed by anger, sadness, etc.
Instead of looking back with shame thinking, “What an idiot!” “I hate myself!”, we can offer empathy and kindness to that person that we used to be, knowing that we didn’t see a lot of choices at that time. We may have been suffering either physically or mentally and our wisdom wasn’t functioning as well as it is now.
We can follow the example of a pretty great Teacher who once said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”\
Take a few moments to close your eyes and ask for an area where you have been holding resentment or a lack of forgiveness towards yourself to come to mind. Be patient. It will bubble up. See an image of you when you made that mistake. With a new sense of compassion and understanding let yourself know that you are no longer going to punish yourself with this and you are willing to forgive. Picture yourself holding that aspect of you in your arms and speak kind and compassionate words towards yourself.
The Light in me honors and respects the Light in you.