Have you ever done something that you wished with all your might you hadn’t done? Said something hurtful, stolen something, lied, cheated on a partner, a test, drove too fast, or maybe something even worse that you just can’t ever tell another soul because it would hurt too bad to even acknowledge you did it? What you are aware of, that other people may not be, is your intention, the overriding melody of your heart. Do you find yourself holding back authenticity because there is a part of your history you find so shameful, it’s not worth the risk of anyone finding out? You know you’re living life a little less fulfilling than it could be, but you just can’t seem to stop punishing yourself in hopes of avoiding the rejection or punishment you think you’ll receive from others. Welcome to the human existence.
Boy, it sure would be nice if perfection was a breeze. But when it comes to perfection, it doesn’t take the calculating, logical part of our mind long to make a list of all the times we missed the mark. With perfection out the window, many people can become plagued with hopelessness, not ever fully realizing the reason they’ve given up seeking a truly better life for themselves is because they don’t think they deserve it. This is often the case for sensitive souls and empaths.
Sensitive souls and empaths have an amazing ability to create harmony out of discord, to ease the suffering of others, to balance heaping helpings of angst and pain with support and love and presence. When these souls commit an act that causes discord, they can become very antagonistic to themselves and begin to shut down the gifts humanity so benefits from. Self-degradation can ensue with gusto.
Our constant appraisal of each other has some positive qualities and some not so positive qualities to it. It depends on the filter. Is the filter set to love and encouragement, motivation and inspiration that the person is worth the effort or is the filter set to ha, see you’re not better than me, now I don’t have to feel bad about all those things I wish I hadn’t done or feel unable to do.
Self-reflection is an important part of healing. It is the means to understanding the underlying causes and motivations of our behaviors and seeking avenues for improvement in order to develop new ways of handling situations that arise, of handling our journey through life on planet earth. We tend to judge ourselves with the mind we currently occupy, having learned a few things between the time of the mistake and the time of our review. It is easy to forget that the mind we occupied when we did the thing we wish we hadn’t done is not the mind with which we are reviewing it.
Other people are almost certain to be unable to notice these differences, judging too through their current mind space, unable to see or fully appreciate the lifetime of events that led to and contributed to that one “coulda, shoulda, woulda” moment we seem unable to live down. It can create quite the vicious cycle of remorse and hopelessness, providing one heck of a bedrock for more of the same.
Coupled with this psychological malaise is a society fraught with the marketing of perfection as attainable if only, if only, if only. An immature soul, one who’s eggshell of an ego is thick and impenetrable, will often play into this façade heartily. This focus can perpetuate the shame cycle. We can all help each other and ourselves immensely by remembering that, despite outward appearances, within each of us resides a soul at differing stages of development. The life choices and guidance a two-year old is experiencing simply cannot be judged against the standards of a two-thousand-year-old soul. One size does not fill all or fit all.
If you find yourself in the company of one who has limited their potential, you can interrupt the cycle of self-inflicted punishment by holding a non-judgmental stance. Non-judgmental does not mean condoning harmful behavior or getting pulled into someone’s shame spiral. It does mean acknowledging through your own authenticity that though mistakes happen, so does change. Self-forgiveness is easier when we address the issues that led to our behavior and set a plan in place to reduce the potential for making the same mistake again. That is how you take responsibility for the life you are living, creating and sharing with others. Self-degradation doesn’t make things better, being willing to engage in the process of life with all it’s ups, downs and shoulda, coulda, wouldas is what makes things better. One day at a time.
When in doubt, I highly recommend the words that save my psyche on a daily basis “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you, I love you, I love you.” I say it to my 14-year old self, my 26 year old mistake maker, my 35 year old self and every moment in time that preys on my peace. I hold that self in forgiveness, trusting that in this “now moment” I am engaging in the process of “even better” every day and every day I step a little bit farther into the light and out of my cave of self-punishment. With gratitude.
Many blessings on our journey, one moment at a time.