5 Ways to Forgive Ourselves and Start Loving Us More Deeply
1. Realize who you really are.
Do you know who you actually are? What is your mental picture of yourself?
Most people identify with what they think about themselves. They have beliefs about who they are which are formed based on their past experiences, culture, environment, upbringing, etc. Maybe you think of yourself as a person of such and such an age, with such and such a childhood. A person of such and such intelligence, having such and such a profession. Someone who has such and such intimate relationship or maybe someone who has trouble with relationships altogether… and so on. Often people identify strongly with their bodies — they believe that they merely ARE their bodies and looks.
Well, that is not who you are. All your mental concepts and your physical body are indeed part of you, but you are not your beliefs, nor are you your body. You are not even your emotions. If you think about it more deeply, you have already experienced many different bodies — you have had the body of a child, the body of a teenager, the body of a young adult, etc. Your body changes constantly and flesh is not permanent. Most of the firm beliefs you held in your past have already changed, too. Your emotions also change — with your thoughts and based on how you interpret the events in your life. Sometimes very positive emotions, such as the exhilaration of a new intimate relationship, shift to pain and suffering at some moment in the not-so-distant future.
And yet what is it inside you that has never altered since your childhood? What does it feel like to be you without the mental concepts and constant chatter of your mind? What is it within you that can sense the presence of your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the emotions at this moment? All at the same time. What is it within you that can relate to other humans on a deeper level?
There is something very precious at the core of your being. You are one with life, and in your essence, you are one with the universe. Your temporary external nature and your timeless formless essence are one.
2. Understand events from your past and let them go.
Do you still hold grudges against your parents? Or do you have painful memories about a lost relationship? Do you remember a moment in your past when you experienced strong negative feelings? Fear, anger, guilt, suffering. What was the actual cause of your suffering? Was it that person’s behavior towards you? Was the external situation the true reason for it?
Let’s explore this in more detail…
What really happened is that in that challenging situation or relationship you lost your true self. You identified with the situation completely and you lost yourself in it. You identified with some perception of yourself as a result of this situation, or with the thoughts that came into your mind at that moment. Maybe you perceived yourself as a victim or as a person who was betrayed, or who felt guilt or shame for what was happening. You had a story in your mind of what happened and you became this story. This is what caused the suffering. And most probably the person in front of you was completely immersed “in his own movie” too and believed his own perceptions and stories. But you are no longer a child nor as unconscious anymore, and you can see things clearly from the perspective of the years, without being blinded by emotion. Your emotions and your thoughts at that moment were a reaction to what you thought happened to you. You forgot who you really are and that your true “self” is not just your accumulated perceptions, emotions, thoughts and situations, but something much deeper and more permanent.
When you are in touch with your true nature and essence, you are no longer dependent on any external circumstance to define you or make you feel fulfilled. You already are whole right now and at every moment. Just be in touch with it.
3. Align your actions with your higher self.
The actions that most people take are RE-actions — driven by external circumstances or by the mental-emotional conditioning of that person. If we observe ourselves more closely there is a deep-seated sense of lack, “not enough”, unease, or unfulfillment (be it very subtle or more intense), and with our actions we are seeking to satisfy this need. We want to “fill” ourselves up with more experiences, such as exotic holidays, material possessions, career achievement, relationships, etc… And even when we receive what we want, the fulfillment that we feel is short-lived and the sense of “being not enough” slowly starts to emerge again. Maybe we have met the “perfect partner” but we are now worrying about how to provide for a family in the future. We may have graduated from university but we now want to land the perfect job. So we start striving to attain the next thing missing in our lives or to worry how to keep what we already have and not lose it. A constant dissatisfaction, need, worry, fear or anxiety is often the driving force behind our behavior, without us even noticing it.
Do we ever act out of a deep connection with our being?
Do we have moments when, in a challenging situation, an action arises that we are in complete harmony with and are even surprised at the ease and calmness we feel in that moment? In order to allow for the right action or decision to emerge, we first have to become more fully ourselves. We recognize all the chatter, emotions, and biases in our minds, but at the same moment, we are able to let them go completely and to align fully with our essential self. We settle deeply within us and experience oneness with the present moment, out of which the right action appears. We know it is right because it feels so natural and seems to arise within us by some higher intelligence.
4. Embrace the power of this moment.
There is no other time than the current moment. It’s a simple fact. We can only experience life in this moment — here and now. The future and past are only projections of the mind and exist only in our heads. We experienced the past as the present moment. When the future arrives, we will experience it as the present moment, too. It is only in the present moment that our whole lives unfold. We could say it is the only moment that exists, and our whole lives consist only of this moment here. And yet most people never fully embrace the present moment. On the contrary, they constantly strive to escape from it by thinking about the future or the past.
How can you go deeper into the present moment and enjoy life more fully?
One strategy would be to give your full attention to any activity occurring at the moment and your sense perceptions. Direct your attention to the activity, be there fully, but don’t focus on it with your thinking mind. Thinking is not necessary. Maybe you are washing your hands at the moment. Can you be there and fully enjoying the activity, moment by moment? You are applying soap to your hands and wiping them gently. Warm water is running over your hands. What does it feel like? Stay with the sensations in your hands, smell the scent of the soap, listen to the sounds of the running water, and just observe and immerse yourself in the activity without dwelling on it …. For a brief moment, it just felt like the most pleasant activity, didn’t it? Why not live your life only from this place, starting NOW?
5. Slow down your thinking mind and stop it from taking full control over you.
Have you ever heard the phrase “I really need a BREAK” or “I need some time OFF”, or “I need to DISCONNECT”? Have you ever wondered what exactly we need a break from? Why do alcohol, tranquilizers, drugs play such an important role in today’s society? What do having a drink or two and lying relaxed on a beautiful beach have in common? And why such experiences seem so pleasurable to us?
In a nutshell: They all slow down the activity of your mind and help your thoughts to be reduced into a dreamlike state, which feels so good. For a brief moment we are free from all the mundane problems, the repetitive worrisome thinking stops and it feels quite liberating — we are enjoying our “being”-ness. Unfortunately, we may associate the joyfulness of no-thought with the drugs or alcohol, thus start using them as a means to get there. Yet all we have to do is realize we have access to this dimension of spacious presence at any moment and don’t need anything external to reach it.
So, let’s try it for a moment. You don’t need to think about it. Just be present. Observe your mind attentively and see if you can notice the arising of your next thought. How about the gap between two thoughts? Are you able to notice there is one? That’s it! You are there!