A new passion I have is creating Pinterest boards with images that inspire me. On my board "Words I Love" I pinned "Get Addicted -- To Loving Yourself" with the title: Whatever the question, love is the answer. Words from me to me.
In the 10 years that I held the vision that March 15 be celebrated annually and globally as International Forgiving Day, the primary intention was to open the conversation on forgiving.
Why? Because at that time, forgiving was a hard sell. Forgiving was seen to be a way of "letting people off the hook," free to transgress again. For example, you could go to confession on Sunday, ask for forgiveness from God, then sin all over again and go back to confession next Sunday. There was an apparent lack of personal accountability. Nothing really changed.
The experiences of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission demonstrated that true personal transformation happened when a genuine and felt expression of forgiveness took place.
Many more inspiring stories of forgiveness have since come to light, when an individual was able to forgive the seemingly unforgivable. Forgiving transforms. How?
Have you ever heard it said that perfect vulnerability offers perfect protection? Vulnerability does not always come naturally or easily. To open your heart and honestly express your mistakes, fears or doubts seems counterintuitive. And yet, when you do so, you touch and awaken other hearts to do the same.
Obviously, there are occasions when it makes sense not to offer vulnerability -- diving into a pool of hungry sharks, or entering a cage of lions, for example. We do need to be able to open our hearts to those who are nearest and dearest to us, and it is those that are sometimes the most difficult to face with our truth.
Think of an infant and the power of love that they emanate. Looking into the eyes of a baby never fails to open my heart. As adults, having weathered a few storms in life, we tend to lose that quality of trust and openness. But we can regain it.
Many of the barriers we erect to shield our pure love come from judgments, often toward ourselves, that we are deep down not good enough and have no real value, that we are shameful or worthless in some way, or are unlovable, bad, you name it. Were you ever told anything like that when you were growing up, or assumed it for yourself?
You may have made a decision -- as I did in my early teens -- like this one: Don't ever get close to anyone, in case they leave you, or something similar. You may have decided that some life experience was just not worth the risk. Stay safe and hide. Don't go there. Did you ever do anything like that?
The price we pay for such decisions is high but not irrecoverable, as I have found. We can rise above our poor choices with the wisdom they have taught us and with the freedom and joy of our more innocent selves, the inner sense we have available to us throughout our lives.
What if, at all times, you were doing the best you could with what you knew at the time? What if when you know better, you do better?
In my experience, the power of self-forgiving has been profoundly transformational -- to this day. How?
In order to fully forgive myself, I have to awaken to my own loving and compassion for myself -- like awakening the sleeping infant within me. In so doing, I awaken to more of the loving and compassion I have for others, including those closest to me, those whom I have judged as being bad or wrong in some way. My relationship not only with myself, but also with others, gets transformed.
While I do live in this physical body with a mind and emotions that divide, separate and judge, it is highly likely that I shall be seeing "through a glass darkly." Can any of us see the total picture of what is going on with any of us? I don't think so.
HuffPost Blogger Judith Johnson writes very clearly on "Why You Should Break the Habit of Snap Judgments."
To cultivate a forgiving attitude is to promote greater peace of mind (there is much we cannot control), better health and enjoyment of life.
As creatures of habit, we tend toward "addiction" of some kind or another, many useful, such as daily exercise, meditation or eating healthily, and others life-diminishing, such as watching too much TV, eating ice cream by the gallon or smoking cigarettes.
What if we could become addicted to forgiving? It starts with being aware of when you get emotionally out of balance -- resentful, angry, guilty, fearful, ashamed, or holding "shoulds" against yourself or others, for example. You are seeing less than the total picture because those negative emotions shut us out from the truth.
Having accepted what is going on within you, you can begin to release the pain within yourself, to expand beyond the limitations that are trapping you and breathe more freely to embrace forgiveness toward yourself. It takes a little practice, like learning to ride a bicycle, but in time forgiving becomes a natural response for self-healing.
To forgive my limited perceptions is to open my heart to a more loving connection with myself and others to what is true. As it is said, the truth will set us free. The truth as I have come to know it is that we dear human beings are all perfectly imperfect. This takes the pressure off me "trying" to be perfect, to do or say the perfect thing all the time, or to expect "perfection" from others.
You can do the best that you can, but if something does not work out, you can always learn from it. You can claim that freedom.
So if you could choose an addiction, why not be addicted to forgiving yourself?
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How have you experienced forgiveness making a difference in your life? Have you ever found it hard to forgive yourself? I would love to learn from you. Please leave a comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more tips and hints for living a wealthy life from the inside out, turn to "The Wealth Book -- Winning With Spirit."
For more by Anne Naylor, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.