One of the most liberating moments in my life was when I stopped hiding from myself.
A few weeks back I talked about emotional immaturity in adults. I discussed how emotionally immaturity can be a sign that while someone has grown up physically, emotionally they may still have a long way to go. But how do you grow up emotionally?
I discussed some techniques that can help with feeling more earthed (and I’ve previously talked about ways to make yourself feel more grounded and less detached and day-dreamy as well as the problems that come from letting your inner child rule your life). I also mentioned how it’s important to figure out where in your body this feeling sits.
But there’s more you can do to feel more like a fully grown adult.
Before I became a therapist, I used to spend a lot of time berating myself for things that had happened in my past. I constantly looked back over things with a feeling of dread or even anger at myself and my actions. I felt disgusted with some of the choices I’d made, even things that were really not important.
Eventually I realised I had to do something about it. I had become exhausted. I spent so much time beating myself up over these mortifying memories (some real some imagined) that I kind of gave in to it all. I surrendered. Boy is there power in surrender!
I owned all the stupid, thoughtless, arrogant, ignorant things I felt I had done in the past. I made the decision that if I couldn’t change these memories (and you can change the representation of some memories with hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and good psychotherapy), I would forgive myself.
I forgave myself for my ignorance, for what I didn’t know back then. I forgave myself for being naïve, for being unaware, for not being perfect! I decided to let myself off of the hook for not knowing better. Phew what a relief! I went from being mildly uncomfortable about my past, to later hearing myself describe it as being ‘colourful’! I copied Jung’s phrase “I would rather be whole than good”!
I began to feel so much better about myself and more importantly, I found some inner peace. Owning your past, accepting it and forgiving yourself for not being perfect, will definitely bring more peace into your life. But how do you achieve acceptance and move look at past incidents and events that you have always felt guilty or ashamed of?
How do you look back without cringing or beating yourself up?
How do I forgive myself for mistakes in the past?
Hand in hand with good self-esteem is self-acceptance. Imagine for a moment ‘perfect parents’. These parents loved you totally, 100%, no matter what you had done. Parents who encouraged, supported and loved you, regardless of what mistakes you have made along the way. These imaginary parents accept you just as you are, without expectation that you should change or improve. Why? Because they love you.
If want to improve your sense of self-esteem, this is the attitude you need to adopt. You could start today. Start by simply accepting yourself right here, now, in this moment for who you really are — warts an’ all! Accept that you are the sum total of your past experiences. Look at your life and know you’ve pretty much done the best you could do — and accept that.
How would it be if you could do that? If you could accept your imperfections and failings?
Stop right here. Now, I want you to place your right hand gently on your throat. Close your eyes and now say:
I accept you [name] just as you are.
Do this seven times. Once you’ve said it seven times, open your eyes again. Yes, you might feel a little emotional – that’s good! As you continue to work on self-acceptance you may notice the presence of peace within you. You’re no longer trying so hard and as a natural consequence your self-esteem grows. There’s a real power in surrender, as you stop fighting against yourself and accept yourself right now in the moment, you become more authentic in your dealings with yourself and others. It is incredibly empowering because you actually begin to like who you are and what you do. As you lift the weight of expectation, judgements and criticism from yourself you’ll experience a real freedom in that.
Learning how to really let go
In yoga there’s a pose called Savasana also known as The Corpse Pose, I often tell my students that it’s the easiest pose to adopt yet the hardest to master. Why? Because it involves Surrender and people do like to cling on! Once taught how to let go, I mean really let go, there can be a huge shift physiologically, psychologically and emotionally.
There are negative connotations to surrendering. From the perspective of war, surrendering equals failure and loss. The kind of surrendering I’m talking about is relaxing, GIVE IT UP. Stop ‘doing’ just for a short time and experience ‘being’ still, quiet, peaceful. Stop, lie on the floor and surrender. Don’t move, don’t worry, let your mind wander and trust the ground to support you, just give it up for a short time.
Do you think you can surrender and forgive yourself? What are your thoughts?