If there is one thing that I learned from my life in general and all my spiritual revelations than it is that forgiving is not something that needs to happen between you and a God (let’s just assume that this one’s automatic and a done deal no matter what spiritual concept you are following) – but it needs to happen within yourself.
I always liked the quote of Heinrich Heine:
“Of course God will forgive me; that’s His job. “
Who Really Needs to Forgive You
But what is in the nature of God and therewith easy for him to do is mostly very hard for ourselves.
We all are carrying a heavy load of things we cannot forgive ourselves and/or things we beat ourselves up on a regular basis for being the way we don’t want ourselves to be.
Just imagine what would happen if you could love yourself with the same depth that God loves you.
Why We Punish Ourselves
We created (or accepted) so many rules in our lives – rules about how we should behave, how we should be, what we should do, what we shouldn’t do … and so on – so many “should’s” in our life.
And it doesn’t matter where we got these rules from (parents, teachers, family, society, religious teachers, peers, bosses, etc.) whenever it is a rule that not following will lead to guilt, then it is a rule that we accepted in the first place and therefore made it our own. A rule that you didn’t accept (at least on a subconscious level) will not affect you (here I am talking about psychological rules – not legal rules).
So every time we sin (that means we don’t do something we should do or do something we shouldn’t do), we feel guilty and are longing for punishment. That’s right – punishment is a psychological need within us that we will insist on as long as we weren’t able to forgive ourselves.
Self-punishment is a subconscious means to remind us of our own continuous shortcoming.
So here is the destructive 3-Steps of Sin Process
Step 1: You sin
Step 2: You feel guilt
Step 3: You punish yourself (or make sure others punish you)
The Key to Good Punishments – Limitation
And these punishments can come in various forms – but there is always one key-component – limitation.
Every limitation that you attracted is tied to a punishment mechanism that you created.
Here are some example of these self-punishments through limitation:
- becoming obese to make sure you won’t attract someone else
- making sure that you loose your money, because you feel unworthy of becoming financially secure
- not being able to find friends or love, because you don’t value yourself highly enough
- you don’t allow yourself to enjoy certain things because you think you don’t deserve them
These limitation mechanism can also come in quite subtle ways.
The Best (And Most Absused Practice Of The Catholic Church)
If there is one good ritual that the catholic church installed (and I am no catholic) than it is the Absolution. Now I think it is also one of the most abused practices of the church, but the core of it is very powerful.
Absolution is not about washing away your sin and then you go on living your life like nothing has happened before. That is a mis- or abuse of the concept of absolution.
To understand the concept one has to go back to the original meaning of the word.
Fans of UYM already know one of my most used sources for that, the Online Etymology Dictionary.
Just see, what we find there …
absolution: “remission, forgiveness,” c.1200, from L. absolutionem (nom. absolutio), noun of action from absolvere “to absolve” (see absolve).
absolve: 1530s, from L. absolvere “set free, loosen, acquit,” from ab- “from” + solvere “loosen” (see solve).
solve: c.1440, “to disperse, dissipate, loosen,” from L. solvere “to loosen, dissolve, untie,” from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *swe- + base *leu- “to loosen, divide, cut apart” (cf. Gk. lyein “to loosen, release, untie,” O.E. -leosan “to lose,” leas “loose;” see lose). The meaning “explain, answer” is attested from c.1533; for sense evolution, see solution. Mathematical use is attested from 1737.
So the true essence of an absolution is to untie or free you from the burden of guilt, not to forget about it, but to allow you to learn from it and carry on your life as a new, changed man (Important – it is not about staying the same person!!!)
The True Essence of Repentance
Integrated into this is the concept of repentance. To repent or regret something as a function is not there to make you feel guilty and bad. That is todays use of it – saying “I am sorry” and not doing anything. But the real impulse of it is to get you to change – change yourself. If you don’t use the impuls of repentance to change yourself, then the guilt will stay in your subconscious and will use subtle means of self-punishment to remind you of not taking the lesson.
So the real essence of repentance is to learn a lesson from what happened and let it transform your self.
That is when failure could be used as a diamond cutter.
So the formula is pretty easy – you make a failure – you repent – you let this change your inner being – and then you’ll give yourself absolution, so that this new changed you can strive forward free of all the dragging down power of guilt.
The Practical Application
Step 1. Write down everything that you feel sorry about.
You of course should use a journal for that. Note down everything that you don’t like about yourself, everything that you regret doing in your life. Write it all out. Now some people think that this one would equal focusing on the negative, but trust me, you already have this negative in your mind and you cannot get rid of it until you put it down on paper.
At first this step could take some time since you might carry a lot of remorse within you. But hang on to it – it will be one of the most valuable lessons in your life. If you fear writing your guilt feelings down – trust me, there is much more pain involved with repeating them all the time subconsciously in your mind.
You can even make a deal with your subconscious – once you’ve written them all out, you can tell your subconscious that all these sorrows and regrets are now in a safe place, where you can always can come back later. That means, your subconscious doesn’t need to remind you constantly of these. Very often the constant repetition of negative feelings is an attempt by our subconscious to remind us of the importance to tackle this problem. If we can reassure it that we won’t forget them, it can relax with the reminders.
Notice it is not about forgetting all the things you are sorry about, it is all about allowing these sorrows to change your being into something better.
2. State your intent and readiness to forgive yourself
Say to yourself: “I am deeply sorry that this happened and I do take full responsibility for it. But that happened then and now I am ready to learn the lesson ingrained in this experience and am ready to forgive myself on all levels, let it transform me and change me into a better human being from now on.”
Step 3. Take a deep breath and experience the power of change
Feel the power rushing through you once you made the decision to let the associated feelings of guilt go and accept the transformative power of your failure to become a better human being. Feel the energy and frequency of change within your body. This is a reel kinesthetic experience and you should take a note of how your body changes during this state.
Step 4. Write down how you would act as a changed man (or woman) from now on.
There is a certain power to writing down your decision. When you’ve written down how you would act from now on as a changed person, you have a higher chance of success, since writing it down makes you more accountable to change.
But this can only happen when you are ready to release your guilt. Remember – God (or whatever spiritual concept you believe in) has already forgiven you a long time ago – the whole universe is waiting for you to do the same.