Breathe-In Forgiveness, Breathe-Out Blame
“Don’t waste your time on such petty issues. Be strong and tough, that is the only way you will survive in this rat-race.” As a child, these statements are what I heard. Before I realized, these advices on how to live became my reality. I became a strong, tough woman, but internalized the belief that “Emotions make you weak. It is time-consuming. Push it and walk away.” I walked on this path for many years. Excellence in what I do became the mantra to survive. It was easier, simpler and faster that way, and it became my pattern to repress emotions.
When there is pain, there is gain. Frank A Clark said, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”. Sometimes, it’s easier for us to flow with life rather than reflect. This is because it is painful to address. But let me tell you, self-forgiveness is important to healing.
“Self-forgiveness is the process by which we release ourselves for the judgments that we hold against ourselves, because when we accept that we are the ones holding the judgment, we see that we are the ones who can release it, and we are the ones who can set ourselves free.” — Joe Koelzer, Co-Founder, the Clearing.
We use various means to distract ourselves from “feelings”, like using social media, working for long hours, avoiding confrontation, isolation, and self-criticism. These are common behaviors used to avoid emotional expression. This negatively affects our self-esteem and compassion. We hurt ourselves unconsciously through wear, tear and repair. We are exposed to subjective experiences at home, school, college, work and society. It is natural for us to use defense mechanisms because it protects us from painful emotions. We feel stuck, hopeless, stressed, anxious, depressed due to the pent up emotions.
The pain could stem from various factors: trauma, perfectionism, difficult parenting, and restraints during socialization, etc. We either fight or flight. It is only when we reach a dead end or have an emotional outburst, that we realize we had unconsciously pushed our precious emotions beneath the surface. The ability to feel and express is so unique to human beings. Yet, we tend to shun away this gift. We allow ourselves to wallow in sadness, drown in pain, rather than permit ourselves to heal. “Emotions make you strong. It is worth your time. Emotion Regulation matters.”
Trauma creates changes you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change that you choose.
Self- Healing is a process that involves daily effort to work on self-acceptance, trust, emotions and willingness to change. You deserve to forgive yourself because you are human. You don’t need to carry the emotional luggage of the past. You can choose to change the present or live in the past/ future.
I would like to share a self-created acronym – ‘CARES’
C- Choice: Believe in the power of now. You were stuck in a mess in the past because you felt helpless, voiceless and invisible. Today, you are in a better place to help yourself.
A- Acknowledge and Accept: Permit yourself to see the best as well as the worst in you. Acknowledge that “I am in pain. I am hurt. I cannot always expect myself to be happy.” Accept and own your feelings through self-talk, writing in a journal, sharing.
R- Reflection: Close your eyes, allow memories to pass. Don’t push it away. Validate your feeling, practice meditation and mindfulness.
E- Express Emotions: Talk to a close friend, journal, read books, watch self-compassion videos and communicate assertively.
S- Self-forgiveness: The toughest yet valuable step is to be compassionate and self-forgiving. You can do this by centering yourself with calming memories and positive self-affirmations.
Looking for support in this area? Reach out for professional help. We at LeanonMe will be happy to help.
AUTHOR: Sneha, Associate Counsellor
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