Most of us are too hard on ourselves.
It can be a form of unconscious punishment for not having been loved, seen, or accepted in the past.
Interestingly, this can show as direct self-criticism or resentment channeled at others. The more emotional, spiritual, or physical abuse or trauma we have experienced, the more this dynamic has been internalized, then normalized, by our trauma-laden society.
In our personal development efforts, and through this cultural rush to “heal and forgive” the patriarch, our parents, or our abusers, we unconsciously turn that rage and anger toward ourselves and others around us.
Haven’t you ever wondered why it’s so common for us to beat ourselves up?
We just accept that we do it, and try to deal with it on a mental level, seeking ways to “cope,” but what and who are we punishing, and why?
The deeper I delve into my own healing, which is a spiral of adventure where deeper layers always reveal themselves, the more I see how necessary it is to include ourselves in any kind of forgiving we’re doing.
It’s ultimately for our own peace of heart, but it also restores our connection to the higher order of things too.
A natural inclination of our inner wounded child is to forgive, to understand another’s trauma and the impact it has on them. This inner child has compassion for another’s suffering but not their own—and neglecting ourselves in this way is learned. Our inner child can forgive another’s bad behavior and remain engaged quite easily because they are used to it; it’s a form of codependency.
This is the part of us that has been deeply impacted by trauma. It feels abandoned and disconnected by love. It’s common to have a difficult time seeing these parts of ourselves in pain, but also to extend compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, and to love them in a way they were never loved before.
It seems easier to find a diagnosis, explanation, or box to put them in.
Our inner parent, the caretaker of this inner wounded child, has gotten a little off track.
When we can really sit with ourselves, and see the innocence of our hearts and the pain we’re in, we can open to seeing ourselves through the eyes of a loving mother.
Loving our wounds and acknowledging the impact they’ve had on our lives helps us heal. It’s hard to heal something we hate, ignore all the time, or keep throwing salt into!
There’s a natural opening for loving-kindness and forgiveness toward ourselves when we can start to make a shift like this. It’s letting ourselves off the hook for things we had no control over. This helps us to forgive the past and extend true forgiveness to anyone else—because our anger can flow in the proper direction, be acknowledged, validated by our inner loving parent, metabolized, and integrated.
Performative forgiveness is a safety move, because we want to feel good about ourselves, but it’s not truly what heals us. It’s not sustainable to live this way anymore.
We have to find a way to water the roots of all this harshness toward our own humanity with love and forgiveness.
There truly is another way to forgive and grow that doesn’t involve suffering, criticism, pushing, perfection, productiveness, codependency, negative mirroring, or denying yourself the richest nourishment your soul truly longs for.
Believing things like—
“I will finally love myself when…”
“I’ll finally be happy and free when…”
“If that person just did…then I’d finally be happy.”
—these are cages.
Self-forgiveness opens up a deep undercurrent flow of love; it’s opening the heart to yourself. There may be grief. Rage. Fear. But, it’s all the stuff that’s blocking the flow of love. The cords we most forget to cut are the ones we tied ourselves, anchoring us to the past and staying loyal to it as though this will free us.
Forgive yourself. Forgive the past. Then, forgive others.
If you find some part of yourself unforgivable, this is the place to dive into, to pray to. Make offerings to the earth, listen to the mother, lay your body on her body, listen, grieve, get support, a witness, and some guidance—so you can find a way to love what has never been loved.
We have all done the best we could with what we had available; now we learn and release our bondage to suffering from the past, and embody those lessons. Now, we make a life of making amends with our souls, each other, and this living breathing mother of a planet that gifts us this precious life.