In modern life we have more reasons to dislike ourselves than ever: more people to compare ourselves to via social media; more situations where we risk public embarrassment due to the Snapchat-everything-we-see culture of our society; and more anxiety about whether replying to text messages in two seconds is “clingy” or not.
Have you ever said or done something stupid? Something out of character? Something so against what you are about that you feel ashamed that people now perceive you as someone who doesn’t live up to who they say they are? I know I have.
Do It for You: Reflect, Forgive, and Begin the Healing
be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.
– Nayirrah Waheed
I’ve felt the eye-rolling, the condescension. The attitude, like knives coming from all directions, that say that at the core all I am is a fraud.
My higher self isn’t a fraud, not even close. But the actions of my lower self at times make him seem so.
And, in the past, what did I do following situations where I hadn’t been my highest version? Beat myself up. Believed the opinions of other people about me. Stop speaking up out of fear that what would come out of my mouth wouldn’t be true to who I know I am deep down.
What do I do now when I notice I’ve been my lowest self?
I reflect on it, and then I forgive myself.
Be softer with you
I forgive because I know that I am not perfect. That perfection doesn’t have a space on Earth.
A great teacher of mine once said something along the lines of: “Seek perfection, achieve excellence.” It is okay to aspire to be perfect, as long as you know full well you will never be; only that your result will be excellent.
It reminds me of when Matthew McConaughey told his audience, after winning the Oscar for Best Actor in 2014, that his hero is himself in ten years’ time – someone he will never catch up with. Because, as he admitted, it’s impossible to beat his hero; he’ll always be ten years ahead… “and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
Forgiving yourself is about recognizing your hero — you in ten years’ time, or simply your higher self. The person you know you are in your gut but sometimes, when off-guard, let down.
Be grateful that you have this awareness. So many people live without it.
So when you do or say something that doesn’t align with your higher self, rather than beat yourself up about it, falling further into the lure of your lower self, rise and forgive. Even if that means doing the thing much harder than forgiving yourself: forgiving someone who has wronged you or someone you love.
Forgiving others to purify yourself
A brilliant exercise for this that I read from Positive Thinking by Vera Peiffer is to close your eyes and go through a list of people you hate, and then bless them one by one with the words “I forgive you”.
Because forgiveness isn’t about justifying the other person’s actions, but rather about making yourself clean – inside and out.
“Forgiveness,” as Iyanla Vanzant said, “is the spiritual laxitive.”
When you cling onto bitterness towards others, they own a part of you. They dirty you.
By forgiving them, you take away their power – whether it is fear, disgust, resentment, envy, loathing, a sick feeling in your stomach that they get to live out their life happily despite their abhorrence as a human being – your act of forgiveness eliminates all of that negativity lodged within you.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, the negative feelings we hold towards others hurt us more than they hurt anyone else. They force us to fall deeper and faster until we finally flump into the pit of our being: the lower self.
Begin the healing
So, how do we rise to the summit of our being? Our highest, most gracious, generous, loving self?
It begins with compassion.
Compassion for how far you’ve come; how many breaths you’ve had the fortune to take; a consideration of how many times you have had to pick yourself back up — and succeeded — when no one thought you had the strength.
How does it end?
With reflection, forgiveness – then, in turn, healing.
And healing is a life’s work.