‘Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future’ – Paul Boose
Self -Forgiveness gives you the ownership of your own life, it ensures no one else can use anything against you to hurt you ever again!
I am still to this day, forgiving myself for past mistakes, for not loving myself enough to set boundaries, for allowing toxic people to damage my self-esteem, for stupid choices in my career, even for putting others needs at the forefront in detriment to myself.
I had held on to my mistakes for most of my adult life, they would eat me up. If anyone spoke about them, my stomach would be in knots, I would be defensive and offended. These emotions, however, are just shame. Shame for the mistakes I couldn’t bear to face. I wanted them swept under the carpet and left there forever. The only problem is, no matter how hard or far you sweep them under, at one point they’ll come out the other side. Owning up to mistakes, being truthful to yourself about how they made you feel and eventually being able to voice them, will take the fear out of them. Say sorry where you need to whether that is to others or to yourself. The past cannot be changed, but it does not need to haunt or hurt you anymore and only you can decide to let it go.
The healing process is not easy, but if you shine the light on the dark within, the pain starts to subside. We are the same as a pan of water boiling on the hob. If you put the lid on tight eventually it’ll spill over. Be kind to yourself and lift the lid.
I have throughout most my life, lived with the crippling pain of shame. I felt thoroughly ashamed that I once was a glamour model to make money. However, in my healing period I realized that I did what I did to survive the only way I knew how in that period of my life. I spoke with therapists, and they helped to guide me through my shame and turn it into pride. The choices I made in these years were what helped me to survive and develop the strength I now have in my life. For that I am proud. For that I forgive myself for judging my choices. The world will always be full of other people judging us. We should not be judging ourselves poorly too. Not one person has walked your life in your body and mind, therefore their opinions do not count.
It is not an easy feat to go in and bring up the guilts and fears we carry inside. I know it felt horrible for me and I really had to cry it out. Yet every time I went inwards to face the things that I found shameful and the more I spoke about them something inside me was released. I also found that no one was really judging me, well no one that mattered in my life anyways! I also realized that I was holding this pain for no real reason, no one really cared that much, because who I am now is not who I was then, and the good people around me only saw the me who was in front of them. The me that I am proud of. I would not be the me I am proud of now without the me I often felt shameful of. So, I can only be proud of my past or I bring shame to myself now and I have no reason to be ashamed of who I am now. I needed that part of me from the past to be me. I forgive myself now for being so judgemental of her.
During therapy I learnt some techniques about healing the inner child. At first, I thought this was all a little far-fetched but me being me, I was willing to give it a try. We went back to early memories of anything that may be triggering in my adulthood and I was surprised to see how healing this technique can be. I now use this technique whenever I feel triggered over things that I am ashamed of. I will, in my mind, go back to that period of time in a meditative state, and I will imagine hugging my younger self and say to myself ‘it’s ok, you didn’t know any better, you couldn’t have done things differently because if you could have, you would have’, I will feel a strange feeling that I am forgiving myself during that time and it is so helpful. I can’t tell you how or why it works, I just know that it gives me a sense of comfort and I can give myself that comfort anytime I need it.
I’ve often heard people talk about their ‘shadow self’, the parts which feel uncomfortable, the parts we feel ashamed of, the parts they want to keep to themselves. My shadow self often shows up in the form of loneliness, self-loathing and the feeling of needing a partner or needing to be loved. For many years I didn’t understand this feeling so my shadow would act out, instead of working through this feeling, I’d go out, get drunk, flirt, find someone to temporarily fix the feeling. It never worked long term and in fact made me feel worse after. I’d push the feeling so far down that it would just bubble inside. The shadow self-left me vulnerable, scared and weak. It wasn’t until taking myself to therapy I learned to listen to it, because in that vulnerability was my healing. It was the highlight of the places I was too scared to go to.
As humans we are scared to acknowledge pain, pain is not nice, so our brain in survival mode will do whatever it can to make sure we don’t feel it. What I have learnt is that by feeling, acknowledging and working through that pain is what ultimately fixes us, it connects us and frees us. Pain is part of the human experience. We cannot understand the greatness of our emotions if we don’t understand the opposite. There is no light without the dark, there is no rainbow without the rain.
We will always look back through our lives and find places of regret. Whether you cheated and lost your significant other, whether you wrecked a friendship, made poor life choices, took risks that did not pay off and you lost all your money. The list goes on and on of things we can call a regret, but we need to look at the silver lining on these regrets. Each and every move we have made in our life has given us the most valuable of lessons. Whether it’s turned out to be perceived by us as good or bad, it has taught us something new. Whether that is how not to do something or how our behaviour has hurt us or others, we now have a new skill on how to do it differently next time. That is a blessing by itself. Everything in our lives so far has led us to this precise moment, and it is in this very moment now that we can make any new choice we like and use the lessons we have learnt throughout to make changes.
Jess’s book ‘Silver linings’ is now available in ebook, hardback and paperback here.