Somewhere along the line of our human development, we learned to always try to do our best. Many times this is translated as "we need to do better." In many cases, as a person is healing they go through a phase of seeing their dis-ease as never before, as if finally the clouds parted and they can now see the sun. I often call this process "moving into the observer." But in the course of healing, I see another common pattern of thinking that people go through. As they become more consciously aware of their dis-ease, they often go into self-reproach.
We all have learned and probably taught our own children through discipline. When the toddler runs into the street for the umpteenth time after being told not to, eventually some discipline may come. After repeated attempts by the parents to discourage the behavior, the child learns (eventually) that discipline works. We often don’t see evidence of this until the child grows up and becomes much more responsible but the discipline we have received along the way develops into a pattern of thinking that we utilize to always do a little better.
Now here comes the problem in healing. When the person finally realizes the errors of their ways, I often see them go into self-reproach. They will say they should have done differently and wish they could go back and change the story of their life. Well, we are not time travelers and cannot go back to change anything. But we do have new freedom to choose though as we move into health.
When the client goes into self-reproach, I always remind them that they have done the best they could have or they wouldn’t have done it the way they did. Almost all of the "errors" we make are a result of survival and they usually serve us well. This is why we adopt them because the end result was, we survived. It is when we have the patterns in our life that no longer serve us that we wish we would have done it differently. But if we could have made a different choice, we would have. There is no arguing with the past.
The way out of the dilemma of self-reproach about our past is through acceptance and love. Guilt will only serve us for a very short time. It will eventually incapacitate us if we hold it for very long. It serves us well to make restitution with others but is like a battering ram to ourselves. There is not one person on this planet that is not doing the very best that they can. If they could do better, they would do better.
So when the self-reproach and regrets come, I explain this process to my clients. It lets them "off the hook," so to speak. They all do a good job of keeping themselves "on the hook" but they must come to learn acceptance as they continue to heal, or the healing will not be complete. They can now forgive themselves.
The path back to our joy is through acceptance and love. Love of self must be first and foremost. Most people have never heard of this concept and, when reminded, can really appreciate that they finally can be forgiven. Now they can forgive themselves for all of the choices they made along the way. Now they can be in acceptance about their past and move forward with more freedom. I encourage them to name it, claim it, and then drop it. Our past can be like baggage that we can drag around for lifetimes.
True healing brings acceptance and liberation. When our patterns of self-discipline come into play, we can really confuse ourselves by more self-condemnation. Healing is freedom. Freedom to be all we can be. If we become our own worst enemies, then we will not be free. Healing is done through acceptance and love. Forgiveness is an inside job. Share this with your clients and you will be helping them tremendously. They may never have heard of such a concept.
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