The Gift of Forgiveness
In my last post, I talked about the importance of loving yourself first. In this post, I want to talk about another important part of our inner work: forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves and is a natural outcome when you love yourself. Not sure where to begin? May I suggest beginning by softly, gently and patiently forgiving yourself for EVERYTHING. Everything that seems to replay itself in your mind or body that tells you that you're not good enough, not smart enough, not good looking enough, not worth loving or being committed to. Whatever it is that wounds you over and over again... forgive. Forgive yourself and forgive all those involved. Forgiveness does not, of course, mean that you have to love or even like others who hurt you, but it does mean that you will not allow yourself to be held hostage any longer.
Do you think a wolf, a bear or a bird troubles itself with past mistakes or missed opportunities? For losing something, breaking something, for hurting a member of the pack or flock? No, they don't. It's a valuable lesson we can learn from our animal friends. You are not your "mistakes." But it is important to learn from them and then move on. By approaching life lessons in the spirit of forgiveness, you can't help but find freedom, healing, and most of all, love. So give it as a gift to yourself... every day. And, with time, you will discover that you have become a gift to others.
Next, give yourself permission to set boundaries that are healthy for you and that serve your highest good. This does not translate into being selfish. (Uh, huh, I know what those of you who always put others first are thinking.) In fact, it's the opposite. Boundaries allow us to respect and honor ourselves and others and vice versa. They free us from feelings of resentment, anger and frustration, for example, because they help us define with clarity how we will treat and honor ourselves. Imagine being free of the resentment and frustration. How much lighter would you feel? How much happier? How much freer? The answer is: The sky's the limit.
One of the many benefits we receive in return for setting healthy boundaries is that we adjust our perception of, and responses to, others and their actions. We can do this because we learn to have a healthier understanding that our boundaries and the terms of our relationships, while not experienced in a vacuum, are our own to create and define. Without these boundaries, we unwittingly set the wheels in motion for self-sabotage and the creation of ongoing and unnecessary distractions that prevent us from reaching our highest potential.
Boundaries don't limit us, they set us free.
Get To Know Yourself
We've all heard the famous mantra, "to love yourself is to know yourself." So, I say, there's no better time than the present -- get to know yourself. Begin spending a few moments every day with yourself (morning and evening are ideal). Appreciate yourself and all the wonderful things about you -- ALL of you. Peel back the layers and be thankful for the greatness that is you.
There is no one "right" way to do this. There are many and the fun is in discovering the methods that work best for you. A popular way to become more in tune with yourself and your surroundings is meditation. But, before you begin conjuring up images of sitting in a lotus position for hours on end, let me interrupt for just a moment. Walking in nature is a perfectly good form of meditation. So is listening to music, sitting on a park bench, painting or even drawing. You may also find that your meditation takes the form of playing an instrument or dancing. Rest assured that relaxation and connection with nature in all its forms has loving and healing benefits beyond measure. Find what brings you peace and joy and do that... shamelessly often.
These gifts that flow from self love are life changing. By practicing a form of meditation and connection to nature each day, you activate and strengthen your ability to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings. As you become more aware, you can monitor and adjust your responses and the beliefs that you hold related to them so that you can live in authentic alignment with your true self. Because of this, these gifts are an indulgence we can scarcely afford not to give ourselves.