Every experience is an opportunity for learning how to be a more truthful and authentic version of ourselves. This may seem like a platitude but everything we do, every act we take, every person we encounter can lead to a lesson that benefits us.
Most of us have at some stage suffered from feelings of guilt, shame or anxiety over our past actions. We relive these moments and cringe over our behaviour. Sometimes we feel so bad about it that we refuse to let ourselves move on and instead innocently perpetuate it by repeating patterns.
We also get defensive about it. We try to trick ourselves into believing that if the other person had behaved differently/ if the situation had been more favorable to us, then we wouldn’t have acted the way we did and we wouldn’t be feeling bad about it now. This is the work of the ego. Getting defensive means we are insecure about our actions which is a good sign we have acted in a way that we feel is not right or not good for our wellbeing.
Rather than get defensive, we can get curious about our actions. Noticing how uneasy we feel about them allows us to move away from defence and towards enlightenment. We see through the illusions of self and learn from the intelligence that exists beneath them. Getting interested in the patterns of behaviour that we replicate in vulnerable moments as well as our conditioned responses to perceived attacks allows us to make decisions about how we don’t want to act in future. We can reflect on more helpful ways a situation might have been addressed and we can decide to choose behaviour that better resonates with us from now on.
Forgiving ourselves for our innocent but unhelpful actions allows us to move on from the guilt, shame and anxiety we have been living in when we are reminded of them. We have compassion for our suffering and faith that we will act differently in future. We believe in our ability to change and emerge from unhelpful and limiting behaviours.
We are under no obligation to be the person we were this morning, last week, a year ago. Others will innocently try to tie us to our past by telling us what type of person we are but when we forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, we no longer need to defend ourselves against them. When there is no need for defence, there is no conflict.
Letting go of self-recriminations and insecurities is the most helpful way of moving on from acting in ways that don’t connect with our wellbeing. Self-forgiveness is essential for us. Only when we forgive ourselves do we create space for a different way of being. Only self-forgiveness allows us to open up to the possibility that we are not our behaviour, not our past actions and not the illusions of the ego. We are healthy, whole manifestations of the universe that get to choose our experiences, learn from our mistakes and let go of insecurity and guilt. When we wake up to this, it no longer makes sense for us to get caught up in self-recrminations, rather we are inspired to learn from our past and create a different future.