While I believe in taking responsibility for our actions, I also feel that we have to learn to forgive ourselves and not be so hard on ourselves. We are human. We are flawed. None of us are perfect.
Stop Being So Hard On Yourself
When I thought about the grace, forgiveness and compassion I have towards others (including those who have hurt me directly) I realized that there is no reason to not have that for myself. I found that beating myself up over past mistakes or lifestyle choices that have led up to the life I live now, wasn’t doing anything but making me feel like a victim. Trapped by my shame and guilt. That’s an awfully heavy burden to drag around through life.
One of my intentions during my current journey of awareness and healing is to ‘lighten’ my load. To free myself of relationships, circumstances and feelings that feel constricting and as burdens that hold me back from shining my inner light. Though I have done a great deal of healing over my past, I found that there were still lingering feelings (uncomfortable ones) that I needed to address.
If certain people, places, words etc. create a tightening in your stomach, fear, anxiety, anger or anything else uncomfortable, it may be related to your own shame and guilt. For example; there have been places I go to (or near) that create a true sense of panic within me. Not just because of bad memories that happened there, but because I felt a deep-seated sense of shame and guilt. Some of these feelings were related to feelings about things I was NOT responsible for at all and others were based on my own actions and behaviors.
Here are the steps I recommend if you want to stop being so hard on yourself;
- Take an inventory of your life – contemplate the areas that feel unsatisfying, painful or things that you feel a stirring about, but haven’t understood what is behind that stirring
- Stay present for an entire day or more, and connect to what you are feeling physically and emotionally (are certain people or situations bothersome, are certain words/actions of others or self uncomfortable) and take note of these things
- Make a list of how you would like to feel – to feel better each day and feel like you have a sense of peace and joy despite your circumstances (remembering we cannot change some circumstances and we can never change people)
- Make a list of things you feel bad about (what do you carry guilt & shame over)
- Take the list and remove all the things that realistically you were not 100% responsible for OR that were based on circumstances you had no control over
- Look at your list and ask yourself if you would be that hard on others who have done the same
- Go through the items left on your list, the things you truly are 100% responsible for, the things that were based on your free will (your choices and actions) and begin to tackle each item one at a time to forgive yourself, put it in perspective and let it go (find someone trustworthy to help you if necessary – we all need help at times)
Getting over shame and guilt is not an easy or quick process. But it is worth it and necessary if you want to stop being so hard on yourself! It requires complete honesty with yourself and an open heart and mind, to learn why you did what you did, where you were (emotionally/spiritually) at the time and how you can change. You always have the option to change, to be your best self and to heal. Often that starts with not being so hard on yourself. Learn to embrace your flaws and accept them and remember that we are all flawed and we all make mistakes. Make amends with others if need be, most importantly love and forgive yourself!
“Ask forgiveness of others, but in the real forgiveness is in one’s own self”
— Maya Angelou