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Poppies and Bluets by dan

Forgiving Ourselves

I always look forward to the Easter season. Not only does it mean that if I am working in the public schools, I get a week's vacation, but it heralds spring and new life. Not a little of its charm, I think, is its coming after the season of Lent when we are charged to look into our own hearts and to acknowledge the ways we have fallen short in our lives. Somehow, as it is meant to do, Easter morning redeems that forty days of introspection, and everything feels crisp, clean, and possible.

As Steve Bentham's article (see below) suggests, one of the challenges of Lent and Easter is to forgive the people who have taken advantage of us, who have broken faith, who have ignored our wishes and needs. Likewise, his suggestion that we live in the present moment is advice that cures more than just our victim mentality.

Still, when it comes right down to it, the hardest person for us to forgive is the one who looks back at us from the mirror each morning. part of our hardwiring includes a superego voice whose sole purpose it to criticize our every thought and move--to make us feel bad about ourselves. Of course, occasionally the superego pats us on the back and tells us how much better we are than some other poor slob, but that kind of narcissism is just as deadly to our self-forgiveness as the constant critical voice. Indeed, if we are honest, we often don't forgive others because they have in fact hit the very sore spot that our superego has been attacking our whole lives. 

The only way we can be free to forgive ourselves (and others) is to tell the superego to shut up! When I first started trying to do this, I was met with even more guilt and shame because it felt to me like I was telling my mother to shut up, which was not a good idea in my childhood home. A wise friend helped me see that the difference was that my mother's criticism came from a place of love, but my superego has no emotions. Its purpose it to make me feel rotten about myself or rotten about everyone else. Originally, it may have started as the voice of my mother trying to protect me, and its function may have been to protect me. But I have outgrown its scare tactics and its self-righteous analysis of events. I am not a child anymore. I have experience of my own to draw upon. I don't need protecting and certainly not by a disembodied, cold, cruel imitation of someone who actually had my best interests at heart. I can tell it to shut up!

Once my superego is silenced, I begin to see that whether my mistakes of the past were made from ignorance, fear, anger, or even hatred, they came from a place that now deserves compassion. (Surprisingly, I also see the same is true for others.) I can begin to atone for my mistakes, either directly if it is possible, or indirectly if direct recompense would make matters worse. I can begin to acknowledge my weaknesses and also begin to see my strengths. I can get in touch with something inside myself that is good and true. I can begin to really like that person in the mirror. 

The critical voice of the superego is not honest conscience. My Enneagram teacher, Don Riso, told me that you will know the difference between the two by their fruits. My conscience tells me what is good, decent and right. My superego attacks no matter what decision I make. It is just as relentless when I am gentle and kind as it is when I am forceful and cruel. 

When I silence my superego, I can begin to allow a deeper place to open inside. That is the place of my true self. It is a place that knows what is good and true and beautiful because that is its own nature. It is connected to Source. It can be found in the silence that comes when I tell my superego, "Shut Up!" 

The Power of Forgiveness

forgivenessAsk anyone what is the most costly commodity there is, and most people will answer that it’s something such as gold, diamonds or some rare metal. But what most people never realize is that these are all eternal commodities. In a thousand years they will still be around. A really valuable commodity is one that disappears if you don’t use it. In this respect the most valuable commodity is time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

There are lots of ways to waste time, but one of the most common is spending time feeling depressed or angry about the way we have been treated by others. It’s something which many people do, and it seems that human beings are somehow conditioned to think of the bad things that have happened to them rather than the good things. Even when we are contented, the memory of how bad we’ve been treated by someone can suddenly jump into our thoughts without warning, casting a dark shadow over what might well have been a happy time.

This constant remembering of bad experiences at the hands of others seems inescapable, and eventually begins to seem a normal way to use our time. Remembering is normal, but allowing those bad memories to cloud the present is actually it’s a pointless way to spend our time, because we can’t change the past and can really only work in the present. By thinking of the past we actually destroy any ability we have to do something in the present—and the present is the most valuable commodity we have, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

This shows the importance of forgiving and forgetting the wrongs done against us. When we forgive we can let go of the past and begin to work in the present. Then once we begin to work in the present we soon find that the incidents of the past are no longer of any consequence. Working in the present enables us to make use of that most valuable commodity—our time—and eventually use it to make the most of ourselves.

Steve Bentham runs the website Inspiration Insights, a website dedicated to inspiration and motivation Article Source: eZine Articles




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April 2007

In This Issue


purple spiral

Reading Corner: Suggested Reading about Forgiveness & Silencing the Superego

reading rabbits

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Healing Life's Hurts: Healing Memories through the Five Stages of Forgiveness  by Matthew and Dennis Linn

Forgiveness: the Greatest Healer of All  by Gerald Jampolsky

The Wisdom of Forgiveness by HH the Dalai Lama & Victor Chan

The Twelve Steps of Forgiveness by Paul Ferrini & Pia Mackensie

Seventy Times Seven: On the Spiritual Art of Forgiveness (audio) by Joan Borysenko

The Self-Forgiveness Handbook by Thom Rutledge

Soul without Shame by Byron Brown (recommended)

Embracing Your Inner Critic: Turning Self-Criticism into a Creative Asset by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone

Shrinking the Judge; Freeing the Inner Child by Rick & Rosalie Malter

Joy, No Matter What: Make 3 Simple Choices To Access Inner Joy by Carolyn Hobbs

Express Yourself: Discover Your Inner Truth, Creative Self, & the Courage to Let It Out by Joy Lynn Freeman

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Copyright 2007
Suzanne H. Eller

Quotes on Forgiveness

easter eggs

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others? ~Dolores Huerta

Forgiveness is almost a selfish act because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives.
~Lawanna Blackwell

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
~Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom. ~
Hannah Arendt

Forgiveness is the final form of love. ~Reinhold Niebuhr

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
~Paul Boese

If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. ~Mother Teresa

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ~Jesus of Nazareth

If I cannot forgive myself
For all the blunders
That I have made
Over the years,
Then how can I proceed?
How can I ever
Dream perfection-dreams?
Move, I must, forward.
Fly, I must, upward.
Dive, I must, inward,
To be once more
What I truly am
And shall forever remain.
~Sri Chimoy

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