It always feels as if there is so much complexity to the reasons we feel bad about things. As if the feeling is impossible to rid ourselves of without that one distinctive answer that seems just barely out of reach.
I can’t say for certain whether the answer to anyone’s personal pain is within their immediate grasp. However, I do have some good news on the subject; the fundamental reasoning for the pain we all experience is simpler to understand than it is to feel. It can be broken down into two basic terms. Guilt and shame.
Guilt is the resulting emotional response to an act or circumstance which we feel we caused. For instance, if you pulled the chair from behind your sibling as they were sitting down, whereby they broke their wrist trying to catch themselves; you feel bad because you caused their pain and suffering. This is guilt.
Shame is a little more complex but still a basic feeling nonetheless. Shame is the opposite of pride, with regards to one’s self-esteem. It is not the result of a circumstance we caused, rather a badge of self discord that we carry when we are wrong or are made to feel that way.
The latter can be explained as a victim of abuse who had no control over their plight, and yet they are shameful due to these unfortunate circumstances. This is because they were made to feel as if they did something to cause their own suffering when in fact they didn’t.
These two things go hand-in-hand and can very easily build each other up by reflecting off of one another. Similarly, they can build themselves up without the other being present.
It’s important to note that some guilt is healthy! Just as some shame is likely well deserved! It is when these emotions fester and become self concentrated that they become very unhealthy and burdensome to carry.
This is why we have to learn to shed these burdens by practicing self-forgiveness. It is the only means of realizing the triviality of these two negative feelings and overcoming them altogether! Below is an outline of the methodology that may be employed to overcome guilt and shame.
Step 0: Accept The Circumstances
As with any other emotional healing process, you must first accept the reality of the situation and accept every part of your immediate relationship with it. Accept yourself as you are right now and accept that you will change and that you have changed. By doing this regularly, you already have initiated the very first step to forgiving yourself!
Step 1: Pinpoint The “How”
It’s one thing to accept your current situation or to know why you feel the way you do. It is entirely different to understand and know how you came to this juncture.
Think back… There is usually a series of events that set this spiral into motion. See if you can work backward to find the first event and understand the decision(s) that made that a reality. Do this mindfully, as it is easy to become trapped in the whirlpool of “what if’s.”
When you find and single out the event or decision, take personal responsibility for it. This isn’t to say you should blame yourself, especially if the circumstances were out of your control. Rather, you should own the responsibility of carrying the weight that it brings. No one but you can carry it and no one but you can own it, by releasing yourself of the burden.
Step 2: Learn The Lesson
What about these choices or happenings changed you? What parts of your personal strife have chiseled you out of concrete into the statue that you see in the mirror? These are important questions that need answers if you are to overcome this.
You wouldn’t be the person you are right now without adversity. So don’t just see your past mistakes; take accountability and wrangle them to the ground! Study the ways you took wrong turns then figure out how to avoid these turns in the future.
We’re only doomed to repeat our mistakes if we do not carefully scrutinize and reverse engineer them, so to speak.
Step 3: Let The “Old” You Know You Forgive Them
It sounds cliche and maybe it is, but affirming dialog is one of the most effective ways to build yourself up. So don’t psyche yourself out by thinking everyone can hear you; just go for it!
Step in front of the mirror and tell yourself “I forgive you.” It will actually be the most effective if you picture your younger self; maybe you were a child, a teen, etc. Picture the “you” that let this all fester, to begin with then tell them out loud, in detail “I forgive you for breaking our sister’s arm, etc, etc”
When you forgive this child within, or whatever the case may be, you are actively beginning to heal!
Step 4: The “Now” Becomes “Then”
Now that you’ve come this far, it’s easy to say “well, I’ll never do that again.” It’s also easy to get comfortable and fall into the “that’ll never happen to me” cycle.
So from the time you forgive yourself (it may take some time and repetition before you start to feel and truly know it) you have to start learning from your falls and implementing your strategy, whereby you won’t repeat the same mistakes!
Try to imagine this… Where you are now, you came to by making certain decisions, right? Your present moment is heavily affected by the past “you.” So it’s reasonable to assume that in the future you will be affected by the decisions you make at this very moment.
So try to live mindfully and by the time you are your future self, you can reflect on what you’ve done and know that your “then” has given you a more positive “now!”
Step 5: Stay True
It’s so important to remember this one fact that we all seem to forget.. We’re ALL human. We all make mistakes and we always will. Granted, some mistakes take us more steps backward than others. Still, we are all human and we all bleed red. We all have our faults and we all have our shining moments.
You will fall again and you will make mistakes. It’s essential to know that these are not irregular… Things happen and not always for a definitive reason. Nevertheless, don’t beat yourself up and don’t take life too seriously; no one makes it to the end of this movie anyway! Live, learn, and most importantly… LOVE!
Thank you for reading! I hope this helps you in some way!