“There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.” — Oscar Wilde
Just as we don’t have the right to judge someone else, we don’t have the right to judge ourselves. Our unhealthy script in the past was that when we did something we felt ashamed of, we judged ourselves guilty. All too often, we then punished ourselves. Was that behavior an expression of our shame and sadness because of our defects? Punishing ourselves won’t stop our unhealthy behaviors; loving ourselves will.
We are grateful that our growth in our emotional health has taught us the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt lets us feel remorse and sadness when our actions violate our values. Guilt helps us know when we’ve acted badly; shame tells us we are bad. Guilt gives us a way back to ourselves through making amends; shame leaves us hopeless. To give in to shame and self-hatred only harms us and intensifies the power of our unhealthy behaviors. There is a better way, and that’s to learn to love us.
- Guilt’s end. (charioteers.org)
- Pain and Suffering (psychologytoday.com)
- Guilt Be Gone! (companionsoflyme.wordpress.com)
Find Resentment and Retaliation
I am well aware of the past harm I have done to myself and others and yet, my life continues to be a breeding ground for resentment. I may think others have more than me, are better than me, more successful than I have been and I make-up in my mind that these people are looking down at me. I make-up in my mind that there are people who are out to get me or are trying to harm me in retaliation for some past transgression I may have been the source of. While there may be times or situations when I truly have been wronged, I have come to understand and believe that most of my resentments are most likely delusional.
Whatever the situation may have been, or stands now, it is so clear to me that for me to grow and move forward, I must learn to forgive myself, those I have wronged and begin a process of making things right.
Through forgiveness of myself and others, I begin to break through the cycle of hurt and retaliation. I begin to know that there is a way out of the screwed-up, delusional dramas in my head, through forgiveness and acceptance which brings peace and tranquility to life.
“Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” — Marie Ebner von Eschenbach
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is forgiveness. When we remember the past, we often find we were much harder on ourselves than we were on other people. We may no longer even remember some of our misdeeds, but it’s not so easy to erase the effects of self-punishment on our identity and self-esteem.
There is no need for us to punish ourselves. We can apologize to ourselves, just as we do to others. Then, we can forgive ourselves just as we do to others, and just as we are forgiven by them.
When we find it hard to forgive ourselves and let go, there are actions we can take: Reach out to someone, or try to find the real feelings beneath the urge to be so hard on ourselves. We can still be honest and choose gentleness. We can also keep our perspective, seeing things realistically and not creating a catastrophe where there is none. We can turn to the Universe, asking for a higher forgiveness and be assured of the Universe’s understanding and love.