We humans are tough on ourselves and sometimes almost masochistic. Somehow the concept of self-love seems like a selfish, self-centered mindset. But as a participant in one of my workshops coined, “self-love and self-forgiveness are not selfish but self-FULL.” Yet in my journey of 25 years teaching and practicing love and forgiveness, I have learned that it is not possible to get to peace by only forgiving people that have harmed you. You must also address forgiving yourself because as we all have been harmed by others we too have caused harm and often to those closest to us.
I recall that the manuscript to my later published book, From Fulfillment to Peace
(Part of my trilogy
) stayed on my shelf for several months as I continued to get daily messages from the Universe during my meditations that the “manuscript is not ready.” After staying persistent on the question “why is it not ready?” finally I got the answer – “because it lacks a chapter on self-forgiveness.” It is less obvious to many and often over-looked in the healing process. No doubt self-forgiveness is harder than forgiving people that have harmed us. I am hosting a Forgiveness Workshop this spring in Hawai’i
to help people through this difficult journey.
It is in my journey that I have learned that we humans have an unmeasurable capacity to love and it is through that capacity we are able to forgive others and ourselves. While many poets, luminaries, and gurus have discussed love, each of us has to develop our own philosophy of love. For me what has worked is the ability to surrender – total surrender to the higher power destroys the ego which often is the culprit impeding self-love and self-forgiveness.
The act of surrender by no means is to give-up. On the contrary, surrender is the act of humility to bow to the higher power with a prayer for the correct guidance for one’s predicaments while having the faith that there is a divine order in the Universe and in your life. It is in this state of complete surrender that the Universe provides the right inspiration and guidance to move forward often in ways that you previously thought were too arduous or not possible. Surrender is moving under the guidance of the Universe and accomplishing these often-impossible tasks that one feels and develops a sense of self-worthiness. These miracles can more easily manifest when you develop living fully in this state of surrender.
As Wayne Dyer taught us: “self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” Feeling worthy is the precursor of self-love. Understanding that self-love is not narcissistic or selfish, but rather as my student said “self-full” is crucial to creating inner peace. Self-love and self-worth can manifest through the act of service and helping others. Finding purpose and community in your life can ground in your self worth because you make a difference in the lives around you. In turn, you give love to others and fill your own cup of love for yourself.
A lot of my joy, sense of worth, and self-love comes from my work in teaching children, youth, and adults the gifts of empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and nonviolent-peacemaking mindsets. The very act of serving others is where joy and self-love exist for me. It is important to acknowledge the time for yourself in between your relationships with others so that you feel the balance and create a full cup from which to pour from. Here again in Dyer’s wisdom: “If you don’t love yourself, nobody will. Not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self.” I take time to meditate by myself daily, will end a year of service with a well-deserved trip or find other ways to balance my acts of service with acts of self-love.
The state of total surrender is an effective way to clear the roadblocks of ego and have the faith that the Universe always provides the right guidance for you and others. Living in that space, one increases one’s capacity of self-love which then translates into contributing to a better community and society. Mother Teresa is a wonderful example of this: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Self-forgiveness comes from taking full responsibility for your offensive actions, asking forgiveness from the people that you have harmed, changing your offensive behavior forever and then helping others do the same. The act of helping others makes self-forgiveness possible. This process of redemption expands one’s container of self-worth and enhances one’s individual experience of self-forgiveness and self-love. So here again, the operative mindset is to be in service of others.
While forgiving others has different steps than forgiving oneself, both these journeys are the opposite side of the same coin. Having dealt with both forgiving others and looking at my own behaviors to seek sincere forgiveness from those I have harmed has given me the gift of inner peace. None of this work is easy but the fruits of inner peace are priceless and having this internal, perpetual sanctuary of living in truth, forgiveness, and love is what life teaches us. We learn from our ALL experiences “good or bad”; we gain insight when we are aligned peacefully with others and when we falter.
Be kind to yourself, know you are a child of the Universe and loved. Be forgiving of yourself and others. This Valentine’s day, buy yourself a dozen long-stem red roses (or your favorite flowers!) and your favorite bar of chocolate or dessert! For me, it’s vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate sauce and nuts! Yummy!
Peace and many blessings.