How to SEE your Hidden Self: Part 6 of 6
I am sitting on a train from Vienna to Budapest. As I stare out over the green countryside I notice that I am thinking about all of you, my readers. I wonder how each one of you is doing.
For me, forgiveness was the toughest belief to shift and open to non-fear based beliefs. I guess I preferred blaming others or simply hanging out with guilt or shame, or maybe I was just unconscious and didn’t know any different.
That is why at this stage of the journey I would love to sit down with each one of you and hear how you are progressing, as many of us struggle with exercise 5 and 6. If you too are feeling a huge internal struggle at this stage, then know that it is perfectly normal and that you are not alone.
Because the unhealthy ego does not want to let you go and let you move forward. That is why I like to refer to the unhealthy ego as a sneaky thing who would do anything to put you off looking at yourself differently.
The external world we live in is fast paced and messy. We plan, life happens and then the end result looks different to the original plan. Frustration sets in. Even though you consciously seek a life of joy, the journey of this life has obstacles and challenges placed in your path as opportunities for growth.
So now is a good time to ask yourself: Do you give up or continue towards an enlightened life, unveiling your true purpose of being in joy?
Challenging your beliefs, and opening to new ones, is much harder than changing your behaviors, thoughts or spoken words. You have gotten through the toughest parts of this journey and only have one exercise left in Step 1, so let’s continue together.
In choosing this daring journey you have had to access courage to see that your internal world is shaped by your emotional experiences. You have worked hard to see that you experience certain emotions more often than others. This is opening you to your pattern of responses. These have become your habitual ways of being in the world. These habitual ways define the attitude that you bring forth into the world, and this then creates your reality.
By examining both your healthy and unhealthy relationship with your emotions in exercise 1 to 5, you have seen that other possibilities exist, which include non-fear based beliefs (In future I will also refer to these as all-inclusive beliefs). Once you can SEE that this possibility exists, you can then move forward in the world with kind behaviors, thoughts and spoken words that serve life’s circumstances, you, others and the greater world.
Before we undertake your last exercise in how to SEE yourself (exercise 6), let’s have a quick discussion on shame, guilt and blame and how these can either mobilize you or keep you stuck depending on your emotional relationship to them.
Shame, guilt and blame are a cognitive understanding of a “sense of being” that informs you of an internal state of emotions. As you have seen in exercise 1 to 5 each of you will feel different emotions when you think of your shame, guilt or blame stories . This can shift from an unhealthy relationship with your emotions that keeps you stuck in unhappiness and pain, or a healthy relationship with your emotions which while still painful, can mobilize you towards change and afford you growth.
How you respond to life is dependent on either knowing or not knowing what your relationship is with your emotions. When you know the state of relationship you have with your emotions, you can make conscious choices as opposed to merely reacting in old ways.
Remember it is important to trust your own “felt experience” with the emotions that arise. This is often difficult as we have been conditioned from an early age on HOW to respond to any given situation. This then causes us to hide our authenticity, either judging or suppressing it when it rises to the surface. Remember the Dare to Ask Journey is about accessing your internal wisdom. While this is a universal wisdom, the journey to it is individual in terms of how or when we get there.
As humans we all access the same emotions, (for further reading on understanding your emotions, click here), but that does not mean that we all feel the same emotions for each given situation. (As dealt with in Part 4 of 6 of “How to SEE Your Hidden Self”).
Once you can acknowledge your OWN FELT emotions authentically, then you can comfortably examine whether your responses are serving you or not.
Your aim in exercise 1 to 5 was to re-examine your stories and witness your emotions from a conscious place, without judgment. While this is not easy, the purpose of doing this is to start a practice of seeing yourself differently. This will then allow you to consider your habitual ways of being at a distance from your emotions, so that you can ask yourself the next daring questions.
Are these habitual ways of being serving you and others?
If not, then are you daring enough to ask yourself how to bring about changes to those that aren’t?
You have already started this process during exercise 1 to 5. In learning to SEE yourself you have been bringing AWARENESS to your ways of being.
With awareness we can continue to question as we develop PRACTICES for CHANGE.
AWARENESS (Exercises 1 to 6) – PRACTICE (Exercises 7 to 12) – CHANGE (Exercises 13 to 20).
At this early stage of the journey it is not so much about asking “who are you?”, but “how do you feel about yourself?” as you notice the habitual masks you hide behind.
These are your projections (your false self) and your intention is to practice opening to your true self (your born-to-soul nature of goodness), free from fear.
Let’s tackle exercise 6 where we will deal with forgiveness when the wrongdoer is yourself. This could either be a story where you hurt yourself or another, or both.
Exercise 6 – Acknowledging your beliefs and stories about forgiveness
Intended outcome of this exercise:
- To cultivate an awareness of your conscious beliefs about self-forgiveness.
- To identify the emotions that come up for you, or to notice if you suppress or hide your emotions when bringing your stories to the surface of when you hurt yourself or another.
- To open your mind to changing your way of being with forgiveness so that you can start to let go and live with joy.
Over the next 2 weeks undertake the exercise below.
Once again, when journaling, let the thoughts flow onto the paper as fast as they come out of you, with no attention to spelling or grammar. Remember there are no right or wrong answers, only a process of self-discovery and understanding.
Now, Dare to Ask yourself to explore the following:
Acknowledging your beliefs about self-forgiveness
- Share in your journal what you have been taught on how and why to forgive yourself when you do something wrong.
- For instance, I don’t ever remember being taught about forgiveness of self. If I did something outside of my accepted family or societal narrative that might be illegal, immoral or other, I was definitely taught to hide the story in secrecy behind shame, guilt or blame. When I did something that was just plain unkind that hurt another, I knew I could ask for forgiveness. If I was forgiven, then the other person was a good Christian and all would be okay (I would feel better).
- Recall an incident where you caused yourself to suffer and you haven’t been able to forgive yourself. Write about it in your journal. Notice and record if a shame, guilt or a blame story presses through. Notice what emotions come up for you. Going back to exercise 1 might help you access a good example as there you shared stories of choices that you have made that have not served you.
- My example. I still feel sad when I think about giving up on my individual career and family dreams and instead agreed to help my then husband with his business. I am not sure I have fully forgiven myself for not trusting my internal voice that said I shouldn’t do this. I denied and hid all of my emotions as I put on a brave face (mask) for the world to see, as I feared the guilt and shame that I thought I would suffer if I said no to him. In the process I became very angry.
- Recall an incident where you have hurt another and you haven’t been able to forgive yourself. Write about it in your journal. Notice and record if a shame, guilt or a blame story presses through. Notice what emotions come up for you.
- Referring to the example above. After a decade of hiding my true self I literally fell apart. I was so exhausted from not looking after my own needs, that the only solution I could see was to leave my marriage. In the process I hurt my ex-husband and others. I hurt myself as well. I wanted to blame him, and I felt shame and guilt for leaving him.
- Examine how what you were taught to believe about forgiveness might be limiting, judgmental or egotistical. Examine your beliefs and attitudes about forgiveness in this incident.
- I asked for his forgiveness. I knew he had forgiven me, even though he admitted to the pain. I asked myself for forgiveness. But these were just words and I was still angry as I felt that I had lost over a decade of my life. It all felt like such a terrible waste of time. Believing I would feel relief when he forgave me was limiting and didn’t bring any relief from the pain, anger, shame, guilt and blame.
Owning your stories
- Now, dare to ask yourself the hard question. How are you holding onto your story in a way that is not serving you? How do you currently own the story by having an unhealthy emotional attachment or unrealistic desire to change the event or the behavior of yourself or others, possibly stopping you from true forgiveness and letting go?
- In the example I gave above, I felt I couldn’t own the story as I believed if I shared it with others, they would think poorly of me. I was not supporting myself. I needed to confront myself and look at the truth. In the deepest part of my truth I wanted a different experience. I wanted the perfect marriage and all that came with it, a family, happiness and companionship as we pursued our individual career dreams. Even though I was committed to my decision to end the marriage I missed him dearly, as he was my best friend. I wanted to eradicate the past and do it all over again, just perfectly this time. But none of this was going to happen. Holding onto the past in an unhealthy way was now causing me to suffer. I needed to mourn my losses, my marriage and the perceived lost years. I needed to open to the lesson and access my internal wisdom. I was no longer there, I was here! I could live in the present moment and learn to take care of my needs in the process of life and not completely sacrifice them while attending to the needs of others.
- Today I choose to live freely with the story. In forgiving myself for wanting something different, I managed to let go, the unhealthy emotional attachment passed in time and I opened to the beauty of each present moment. (We will deal with the processing of this pain in exercises 7 and 8)
In forgiving myself for wanting a different experience, I found acceptance of what was and what is. I realized that I had caused myself pain by holding onto what I thought he wanted and not allowing my own needs to be fulfilled.
I was now free to own my story and therefore no longer judged myself for what I had done. Nor was I wanting to change what had happened or eradicate the event. In accepting this I no longer condemned myself for what I had done, even though I had caused myself and others pain. With judgment towards myself gone I had found PEACE.
With courage, I was able to choose to forgive myself for wanting something different. I had finally opened to unconditional love and acceptance of the experiences, and in so doing I had opened to unconditional love and acceptance of myself.
Note: If in the event you have hurt another, once you have reached a place of full self-forgiveness, asking forgiveness from another is often helpful in your process. But remember the other person might say no, so it is important to keep in mind that you do not need their forgiveness to move forward towards freedom and find PEACE. You can still achieve peace and acceptance in the process of forgiving yourself for wanting something different to “what is” or “what was”.
For those of you who are working with a friend or a group, this is a good time to catch up and share what you have learned about yourself. Click here for link on how to go about this sharing with the group.
For those of you working on your own, share your thoughts with yourself in the mirror during a 20 to 30-minute session. Click here for link on how to go about this sharing with yourself.
Once again, when you have finished this last exercise sing, dance, have a glass of wine, but undertake a ritual that you enjoy, alone or with your group, to celebrate and honor the courage it takes not to deny any part of your life and your way of being, as you learn to SEE yourself.
Then rest and don’t take yourself too seriously until we meet again in a few weeks to start Step 2 of the Dare to Ask Journey: How to ACCEPT yourself.
In the interim, if you have questions on forgiveness, either submit your question in the comments section below or here (link) or on FB (link). Likewise, if you have a story you would like to share about self-forgiveness, then please do so on the same links above.
I love you all for your courage.
As always, warm love and regards