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Are You Carrying a Grudge…Against Yourself?

3 Nov

“Your capacity for salvation lies in your ability to forgive” Marianne Williamson

How many times have you laid awake at night beating yourself up for something you did “wrong” during the day? Did you somehow let yourself down by messing up at work, forgetting to do something, not being productive enough, etc.? The critic in my head likes to remind me at the end of each day how I didn’t eat healthy enough or exercise as much as I should have. It likes to remind me that I didn’t do enough work, didn’t spend my time as wisely or efficiently as I needed to. It basically likes to remind me that no matter what I do, I will never be enough.

But through a lot of work, self-study and sheer Grace, I have been able to acknowledge that my pattern of thinking is habitual and conditioned, but it is not who I am. It is a voice inside my head that for many, many years has had a lot of beef with me. I have held a grudge against myself for a long damn time and I am slowly starting undo what has been done by learning to forgive myself.

Being the proud owner of a grudge against another person is like carrying a bowling ball around in the pit of your stomach. It weighs you down, drains your energy and makes your world often seem very small. Now imagine holding that grudge against yourself. The weight can become unbearable, impossible to carry so we try to lighten it by “correcting” our behavior.

When I was a teenager I acted out in ways that I am not entirely proud of. I did drugs, skipped school, even spent a month in rehab. I had an eating disorder, sometimes cut myself and was simply angry and miserable all the time. I was angry at the world for not understanding me but even more so, I was angry at myself for not fitting in, not being normal. At about 17 years-old I straightened out, went to college, made good, healthy friends and even had a clean-cut boyfriend. I graduated on time with good grades and without much drama. I figured I atoned for my bad behavior as a teen, and went along on my merry way into adulthood.

Fast forward a little over ten years and that clean cut boyfriend and I were getting divorced and suddenly memories from my teen years kept creeping into my consciousness. Not only did I feel horrible about myself because I was getting divorced, I also felt like I was a horrible person for all the pain I caused myself and my family as a teenager. I felt like a failure, like I couldn’t keep it together if I tried. The fact is, I had never forgiven myself. And I was still carrying around that bowling ball, and it was only getting heavier.

But something miraculous happened as I fought with the demons of my past while I struggled to stay sane in the present. I decided to forgive myself. I decided to have a talk with the frightened, angry teenage girl who at the time was also a frightened, angry woman and tell her everything she did during that time was okay. Yeah, I fucked up, but so what? Everyone does. And as a matter of fact, better that I went through that confused, rebellious stage as an adolescent rather than an adult where I would have to pick up all of the pieces on my own. I looked my mistakes straight in the face with as much truth and honesty as I could summon, and chose to forgive.

Are you holding on to something you did in the past that is weighing you down and keeping you from living fully? Are you so ashamed of something you have done that you are struggling to live wholly, freely loving yourself and others in a way that is your birthright? We all make mistakes, we have all done something we are not proud of. It is a universal truth. Your shame and inability to forgive yourself can be healed if you face what it is you are ashamed of, be honest about what you have done and tell yourself:

Hey. I am worth it. I deserve freedom. No being deserves to suffer at their own hands. I LOVE MYSELF and I FORGIVE MYSELF. It is a disservice to me and to my loved ones to carry this grudge around. It is time to shed my layers of resentment and let go. I am more than worth it.

As one of my favorite (anonymous) quotes goes,

“You can’t undo anything you’ve already done, but you can face up to it.  You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And let God do the rest.”

As I look back now, what I felt was my shameful, awful past doesn’t look so bad anymore. In fact, I don’t regret one painful moment or one “bad” choice I made because without them, I would not be where I am today. While healing from my divorce I took a yoga workshop with Seane Corn and the most profound lesson I took away from that week was that no matter what has happened to you in your life, what choices you have made, what pain you have experienced: you are exactly where you are meant to be. So just hang on and cut yourself some slack.

So as you lay awake at night with that big bowling ball in your gut, just repeat this mantra to yourself and see if you wake up feeling a little lighter:

I FORGIVE. I FORGIVE. I FORGIVE.