Self-compassion, mindfulness, and breathwork are great tools you can use to change your present moment reality. But, to really utilize these tools to help you forgive yourself, you must come to terms with the fact that you are NOT who you were. Let me say that again. You are NOT who you WERE! This is such challenging concept to get around for most people, including me. This concept took me a long time to really comprehend. Even now, I am still working on this day-to-day.
This idea that our past defines us now is purely an illusion AND delusion. In our mind-body, the past is just a FEELING which is brought to 'life' or created in the present. Our memories are feelings we have and images in our mind which produce or compound those feelings. In this sense, anything that has happened previously, quite literally does not exist. Rather, the recreation of this experience is what may keep us trapped to what was.
Our moment-to-moment experience is what shapes us NOW. So, if we keep going to a lpace in our mind-body where we feel stressed, stuck, anxious, regretful etc. then, we are hloding on to our past selves. When we hold onto this, how can we possibly liberate ourselves to change and grow into better people? We quite literally are defining our lives as the person we DON'T want to be every time we spend time and energy re-living or reflecting on this. Think about it:
❌Every time we beat ourselves up over mistakes
❌Every time we ruminate on our failures
❌Every time we fixate on what we could have done differently
❌Every time we chose to dwell in regret
❌Every time we hold onto an old grudge
❌Every time we chose to entertain people that we know we shouldn't
We keep ourselves 'locked' and beholden to a lower self. One which we don't want to be beholden to. This, at times, is what makes forgiveness so difficult. There is a tendency, especially amongst those who are anxious and depressed, to ruminate in negative self-talk. If we begin feeling a certain way about an experience or a person, then our cognitive brain can produce a series of statements which justify the feeling in our bodies. In short, if we feel bad we must "BE" bad and this can often lead to catastrophic thinking, depression and spiraling.
It is not as easy as it sounds just to "forgive" ourselves. It is usually not an outcome than can simply be willed into existence. It requires a change in the feelings around whatever we are trying to forgive ourselves for. Once the feelings change, then we can begin the process of reframing the situation or memory into something that is more uplifting, positive and healthy for our growth and development. So, how can we actually do this?
Changing the feeling associated with a memory is really key to learning how to work with it. If the emotions are too overwhelming, it is hard to go in, explore them, feel them and heal them. However, if we can, then there is much wisdom that can be gained!
So, how do we be free from our OLD selves?
Ownership: I think this is extremely powerful. If you completely own what you did wrong, understand why you did it, and accept full responsibility for your part, then you can stop resisiting what is. This opens you up to explore the parts of yourself that may not feel comfortable but are necessary for further enriching your life. Let your mistakes go. Take ownership over them, know what you'd do differently and leverage that wisdom for today.
Compassion: For yourself. Life is hard, you should NOT be hard on yourself. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, hold space for it all and make a commitment to do better. Be kind about it. Recognize that you are NOT the only one who has ever made a mistake. Knowing this alone, can help you divert the toxic energy you put into saying bad things about you into more meaningful and productive inner dialogue.
Presence: Learn to be here, NOW. Mindfulness and meditation are wonderful practices which help you to be here in the present moment. When we stop ruminating about the past, we are free to evolve now. Another fantastic tool is Breathwork. As a breathwork coach, I have found this method of grounding people to be one of the most effective tools I have ever utilized. Breathwork training can, without question, ground you in the only reality that means anything, NOW. We can then shape our lives from here, not 'there'. It helps us to observe and let go of negative feelings and emotions and equips us to venture into our mind-bodies in ways that serve and not hurt us.
Purpose: Work on using ALL your experience 'good' and 'bad' to create a better experience for others. Serving others from this frame allows you to be at peace with all your life, knowing your experience has mattered and has significance for others. If you have owned yourself (and your story completely) then no one else can own it for you. You have total power over your destiny and can speak of yourself with confidence and surety.
Connection: Surround yourself with people who uplift you, understand you and appreciate you. Ditch the ones that don't. They WILL hold you back and prevent you from evolving. Be clear and ruthless with who you let into your life. Those you surround yourself with help shape your self image. Find people that have gone through the inner work of also forgiving, growing and letting go. You won't have to explain yourself to them. They'll likely welcome you with open hearts!
So, important question: Who are you NOW? Take the time to relax your mind and body and cultivate some present moment awareness. As opposed to making vicious statements about yourself, practice some of the above strategies. Perhaps, if you have some time, practice them all. Make this a habit. Go to a place of harmony, not stress and make sure you are embodying now the person you want to BE
not the person who you WERE.
Best wishes my friends,