Are you seeking for perfection? I know I’m not. As I have gotten older, the wisdom has become more and more clear that in fact, there is no such thing. I believe we are perfectly imperfect exactly the way we are wherever we are on our journeys (period).
So what do you do when something in your life has taken you astray clouding your judgement and perception?
Perhaps some choices that in the end fill you with deep regret or unbearable shame. Is there anything you can do to help support yourself? Are you doomed to live under a dark cloud of negative energy that will haunt you for the rest of your life? Absolutely not! First, take a gentle breath and visualize where love is in your body. Then tell yourself that YOU ARE a beautiful human being- simply BEING HUMAN! And secondly, trust that there are ways to acknowledge your feelings in the moment, holding them in a vessel of loving kindness and compassion in order to heal and move forward in a positive and gentle way. It may not feel comfortable at first, because what you may want to do is beat the heck out your spirit for making those choices that have left you in such emotional and maybe even physical pain- barraging yourself with self-hatred that you should have known better and that you don’t deserve forgiveness, but know your beautiful and amazing spirit is too precious for that… YOU DO deserve forgiveness and even more so that you have the ability to take control of your situation and choose another way- one that you can learn and grow from because you are perfectly imperfect.
By going within and sitting in stillness, you can begin the important process of healing. You may also want to consider recruiting a compassionate and supportive therapist, counselor, religious leader or friend to help and support you as you safely process your most inner true feelings. In addition, the act of journaling is very therapeutic in getting your thoughts and feelings outside of you and out in front so you can begin getting clarity of what it all means.
Here are 4 ways to help you move forward:
- Make direct amends- Whenever possible, make a direct amends or apology to the person or persons you may have harmed. Take your time in considering this first option because although this may sound like the only option to help you move forward, it may not be the best. As the 9th step of the 12 Steps of AA states, “make direct amends whenever possible, except when to do so would harm them or others”.
Only make amends when you are truly ready for atonement. If making a direct amends ends up being the best way, then by all means, make that direct amends whether through a conversation in person, on the phone, or in a written letter, acknowledge your part with sincerity, respect and honesty without any expectations of a response. Make it with the intentions of taking care of your side of the street, keeping it simple and to the point, not complicating things by trying to explain your side of the story, but simply to acknowledge your wrong doings, make an apology and make restitution.
For example, if product or money was stolen from an establishment, acknowledge and apologize for that behavior to the owner or manager and repay or make a promise to repay what was taken.
Unfortunately, direct amends are not always possible. In some situations, the person is unknown, unable to be located or perhaps even deceased. And in some cases yet, direct amends may not be a healthy option because it may cause more harm. If this is the case, living amends are a good option.
- Living amends- When direct amends may not be the right fit for your situation, living amends can be. Find a way in your life to make a commitment that honors the person you are making amends to. Living amends are a promise that you keep that shows you have made a genuine lifestyle change as a result of the lessons you have learned from the situation. For example, if your relationship with your best friend is strained after a difficult fall out due to your actions, choose an organization that he/she devotes time to or believes in and help that cause by volunteering there or making a donation at a local group in his/her honor. You can also anonymously make a donation to his/her family if it is known that they are in need of aid or support. A powerful living amends can also be to honor this person by never repeating that behavior again. Learning hard lessons and truly feeling it is an important way to move forward in a positive way showing yourself and others that you have ended destructive behaviors and are living in a space of positive change.
- Ho’oponopono mantra- Now that’s a mouthful, right? Rest assured that the actual mantra is quite the opposite. The ancient Hawaiian mantra of forgiveness can help restore harmony within yourself and/or with others. By repeating this mantra daily, you begin the process of forgiveness to yourself, acknowledging your wrong doing, forgiving, thanking and finally, loving yourself. Don’t let the name scare you. It’s simple and powerful.
Find a quiet and private place to repeat the mantra out loud or to yourself slowly and meaningfully:
Please forgive me
I love you
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)-
EFT, also called Tapping, is another wonderful tool and technique to help you connect with self-acceptance and self-love. According to its founder, Gary Craig, “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” EFT is based on the Eastern philosophy of acupressure, it is believed that tapping on 9 specific meridian points on the body allows for release of whatever you want and need to let go of whether it be a physical or emotional pain. So much of our pain is connected with the thoughts we have. Begin by meditating on what issue you want to tap and release and assign it a number between 0-10 that describes the level of discomfort it has in your life, 10 being the highest level.
Begin by reciting this initial set up phrase tapping on the KARATE CHOP point, the fleshy part of the edge of your hand under just below your pinky finger (see video): “Even though I have this (whatever you want to release- ie. This shame of hurting my sister) I deeply and unconditionally love and accept myself.” Keep the phrase simple and to the point and repeat it 5-7 times while tapping.
This resentment towards my mother.
This guilt for being disloyal.
This fear of my child’s future.
Or physical stresses:
This pain in my shoulder.
This pain from my radiation.
Now, beginning at the top of your head with 4 fingers with one or both hands, begin tapping with the soft parts of your fingertips while saying a Reminder Phrase point (a shortened version of your initial issue) 3-5 times at each meridian. Ie. “This resentment” if you are tapping on your resentment towards your mother. Or “This guilt” if you are tapping on your guilt for being disloyal.
One round of tapping begins at the head and ends under the arm. Reassess what number from 0-10 your discomfort is at after each round of tapping. When you get between 0-2 you can decide whether to continue to get to 0.
Head, Inner Eyebrows, Temples, Under the Eyes, Upper Lip, Chin (where your chin dips between lower lip and chin), Collarbone, Under Arm (about 4 inches below the arm pit running along your side; where your bra would be for a woman).
On the top of the head and the collarbone you can tap a little firmer. Tap lightly with caution on more delicate areas like the Forehead and Temples. And if you feel any pain of any kind from the tapping, discontinue tapping. Carve out time every day to tap on a specific issue until it is released.
See Gary Craig in action in this simple video.
- Loving kindness meditation- The metta of sending love and kind thoughts is another simple yet extremely powerful meditation that you can do daily.
First, find a quiet place to go within where you won’t be interrupted. With your eyes closed if you feel comfortable, find where love grows inside you and focus on that place, visualizing more love manifesting with every breath. Continuing your gentle breathing as you begin to relax more. Using the following set of phrases to direct towards yourself:
May (I) be happy.
May (I) be at ease.
May (I) be healthy and strong.
May (I) be peaceful and calm.
Then bring someone into your mind and heart, who you are grateful for in your life and say these phrases with them in your vision.
May (that person) be happy.
May (that person) be at ease.
May (that person) be healthy and strong.
May (that person) be peaceful and calm.
Then say the 4 phrases towards (someone who you may be presently be having a challenging relationship) and then to (someone neutral, that you don’t have positive or negative feelings towards) and lastly, direct the phrases to (all the living beings in the Universe). In the end, you will say each set 5 times. Don’t worry, it goes pretty quickly, but you will want to go slowly and truly feel the well wishes being sincerely felt and sent. Imagine each person in your mind as you recite the phrases.
I have seen such miraculous transformations in clients who have used this process to overcome resentment towards someone. In one instance, using this process for just over a month daily has released anger and resentment that was being tightly held on to towards a father for well over 60 years. 60 years! Now that’s life changing! Imagine moving forward without that excruciatingly heavy burden and being able to breathe easy and effortlessly without it knowing it no longer has the hold it once had on you and your emotional well-being sooner in life than later. How freeing is that?
Know that at any time in your life you can make the choice to release the hold that regret and shame may have on you. So why not today? Why not right in this moment? So often we celebrate others and continue to keep pushing ourselves down even when we already feel so terrible- thinking that we don’t deserve forgiveness as others do. What would happen if we chose to celebrate our imperfections by showering ourselves with love and gentleness so we can learn from our mistakes and grow from them—being even more compassionate and stronger than before? Imagine the possibilities that we are denying ourselves by choosing to stay in this negative and hurtful space especially when we are ready for atonement and self-forgiveness.
Take a gentle breath and acknowledge you are a beautiful human being- simply being human. No one can take away your self-confidence and self-love unless you give them permission, so why are we continuing to give it away? It’s time. Let’s begin the healing process of moving forward in dignity, shall we?