“Guilt is a wasted emotion,” it has often been said, yet most of us have seeds of guilt lurking somewhere in our psyche. Guilt can seriously harm our self-esteem and confidence. Our work and relationships can suffer because we hold back our energy and our presence. This source of self-flagellation needs rooting out and the process is called self-forgiveness.
To forgive ourselves doesn’t mean not to have a conscience; ethical speech and conduct (and, indeed, thinking) are vital aspects of the path of self-development. The survival of the human race depends on moral behaviour. Self-forgiveness means letting go of harmful feelings of guilt that prevent us from being happy and realising our full potential.
Moreover, if we cannot let go of guilt within ourselves, we cannot truly and completely forgive others. If we resent something within our own make-up, there are going to be things we will resent in others. So it is not self-indulgent to forgive ourselves – quite the opposite. To put it another way, are cultivating a sense of self-acceptance.
Our starting point is to build up our self esteem. We don’t need to analyse where we think we are failing because that’s focusing on the negative. We simply start by building up a positive picture.
Here is a powerful exercise for building up self-esteem. Don’t underestimate it – it works. Find a place to sit quietly on your own and allow yourself a comfortable five minutes or a little longer if you wish:
Releasing ourselves from guilt – a meditation for building self-esteem
- Visualise yourself seated in a totally empty room. Say to yourself, “I am.” This is a positive statement. Repeat it a few times: “I am.”
- Imagine someone coming into the room and placing a gift – some flowers, say – at your feet. Hear this person say, “This gift is for you because you are who you are.”
- Embrace your visitor. It is yourself – your soul, your spirit, your higher, wise self.
- See someone else come into the room. This second visitor places a golden bowl at your feet and says, “This chalice is for you. It holds all opportunities in life and is always full.”
- Pick up the bowl and embrace it. It is the sum total of all past and future actions.
- Feel yourself smiling inside and say to yourself, “I welcome all that comes because I am.” As you do this, see yourself fill with light and be at ease.
This technique could be done once a day for a week and then whenever there is a feeling of self-doubt. By embracing our whole self and our past and future actions, we forgive everything about ourselves. In other words we accept who we are. In energy terms, this can have a very profound effect.
Guilt – putting things right
Sometimes, though, there can be something that really bothers us. If we have harmed somebody, spoken out of turn, acted unjustly, omitted to do something or whatever it happens to be, we should use any opportunity we can to apologise or to put things right. If that is not possible or if no-one else is involved, we can use the following method:
- Visualise the person (or group) you have harmed or wronged, or if no-one else is involved, you should visualise your guide, teacher or other higher being for whom you have respect and loyalty. Simply explain yourself truly and honestly and say, “I am truly sorry.”
- Then see yourself attempting to put things right and making amends by bringing the action back to yourself or “undoing” the action.
This method is very simple but its effect can be very deep indeed. Sometimes it may need to be done more than once. It all depends to what extent the sense of guilt has been ingrained but it is better to do it once and see how our feelings are affected over a period of time than to keep repeating it. Many of these techniques are like taking a medicine – it is important to allow time for healing to take place before taking another dose.
More on this in The Great Little Book of Happiness. This article is an adaptation of an extract from Chapter 2.
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