Importance of Self-Love: Chapter 1: Forgiveness

Do you believe you’ve done absolutely no damage to those around you? Do you believe you’ve caused no insecurities, mental anguish or heartache in others? No one in this life can answer yes to these simple questions. It’s entirely impossible. If you answered yes to these questions you are either highly evolved (which only accounts for your current position, not the years of trial and error) or lacking in self-awareness (which means you aren’t considering how your words or actions have affected others).

Truth of the matter is we impact EVERYONE we come across in this lifetime in both positive and negative ways. In fact, simultaneously, you can be saving grace for one person and a tormentor for another. Keep in mind that I am not speaking in terms of violent, savage or sadistic crimes. I am speaking in terms of social transgressions, even ones that at most, are fleeting and often deemed benign. In fact, there are moments in your life where your words or actions have positive intentions that can cause a negative impact in another.

This is possible because you operate from one, unique perspective whereas those around you hold another perspective entirely. For example, say your friend is crying. You know if you were in that position you’d want a hug, an embrace from another signaling, “I care about you and don’t want to see you suffering.” However, when you hug that person, they may feel shame. They may feel like your reaction was expected for that scenario and disingenuous. And that, in fact, your embrace was condescending and implied pity. Now, I know you may say, “Amber isn’t that a bit of an overreaction?” Not quite. Remember, we all operate on our own perspectives; they cannot match up to another’s 100% of the time. What you may identify as consoling, another may internalize as pity. The sooner you learn of these differing perspectives, the better you’ll be in practicing consideration, confrontation of harm, and most importantly, forgiveness.

Now that you know there are many angles when viewing an issue, think about a time you know you’ve harmed or may have harmed someone else. Did you bully a peer? Were you unfaithful to a lover? Have you obliterated another’s trust in you? Do you regret not mending a broken relationship? Take a deep breath and consider everyone who has been in your life or is currently in your life. Where is the access point? Where is the moment that you decided, “I said_____, I did______; therefore, I am a terrible person?” Because, the truth is, we all do it. We all internalize the pain we inflict on others and interpret it as STUPIDITY. We interpret it as INCOMPETENCE. We interpret it as GUILT. We interpret it as SHAME. But, most of all, we interpret it as SELF-HATRED.

We hate ourselves for how we’ve treated others. And, often, how we treat others is a reflection of how we feel we should be treated. Long before that, we formulated how we should be treated based on how others have treated us. In many cases, we are projecting our own self-loathing onto others. The phrase “misery loves company,” is highly regarded for a reason. We feel pain, so we inflict pain elsewhere, anywhere; as long as we can transfer these negative feelings to another, we can take our minds off our own internal damage.

Now, do you see how the pain we brace and the pain we inflict can be one in the same? You hurt someone because others have hurt you. And you continue this cycle of projecting harm, because you are constantly harming yourself.

This is a vicious, vicious cycle. And the only way to end it is to forgive yourself. You are human, inherently imperfect. You reacted in a common fashion. You’ve face hardship from others, absorbed and projected. At the time, it was all you knew. But, once you’ve spotted it, you MUST stop.

It’s important to remember that you are NOT a terrible person; you are a work in progress! You’ve made mistakes. But, you cannot keep blaming yourself for past discretions. I warn you, if you do, you are sure to repeat them. If you keep beating yourself up, you will feed the monster that is self-hatred. If you fuel self-hatred, all you will know is how to transfer it. And there it is, you are the source. You have all the power you need to change this.

Happy Recovery!

Amber

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You are me, I am you.

Together we have opened the way and stepped
Into the immense space outside of space.
After many years of working to tear asunder the net of time.
We have saved up the light of shooting stars
And made a torch helping those who want to go home
After decades of wandering in distant places.
But still there have been times when the
Seeds of a vagabond in you have come back to life
you have left your teacher, your brothers and sisters
Alone you go…
– Thich Naht Hahn

We begin this life in shells, yolks of loading limbs and organs. We seek refuge in the womb and nutrients from the umbilical cord. Without this direct connection, we cannot thrive, we will cease to exist. We need this link to evolve from a bundle of cells into a miniature representation of our parents. So that once we exit this hibernation, we are ready for the world.

The direct connection to our mothers is, at the time of birth, physically, but not spiritually cut. Now, we begin our lives this way, knowing that we are a figment of two other human beings; forever connected by the mere existence of our own lives. But our boundless connections to others in this world are outside the biological realm of conception and birth.

Buddhists and Spiritualists alike believe that you are connected to everyone in your life, for as many lives as you shall live. They believe that, for as long as you circulate this planet and beyond, the very same people will linger along your life path; personally selected to propel you to enlightenment. For imaginative purposes, consider your connections to others as lengthy, red, silk ribbons jutting from your collarbone to another’s wrist, or from your ankle to another’s ear. These ribbons are delicate as petals with the strength of steel. But, can these ties be broken? No. I believe they can be neglected, but not broken.

You don’t have to be religious or a romantic to believe that everyone in your life is there for a reason. No matter how sparse their involvement, each individual leaves fingerprints on the glass of your existence. That’s why, despite growing apart from a lover, you still feel the impact of their presence like a fist to the stomach. No matter how or when they dissolve from your life, you cannot remove their smudges from your glass .

Don’t be afraid to take each lesson and learn from it! No relationship is a waste of time! Even the ones who caused you the most harm taught you something you need to know. And if you believe in reincarnation, the soul will learn from that lesson. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, each individual will grow to be more compassionate, understanding and wise in their earth-bound life.

Now, imagine if everyone could see their relation to others. Imagine if we could see those ribbons of inter-connectivity. Imagine how rapidly hatred, violence and bloodshed would fade. Sadly there is no quick fix to eliminate evil from this world. The process begins inside each and every one of us. When you live a compassionate life and encourage others to do the same, you can shine that beacon over the murky depths, guiding troubled souls to safety. But, hey, that’s just something to chew on.

Happy Evolving!

Amber

Stop Right There! Put Down the Advice!

Humans are predictable specimens. Let’s say, decades from now, a scientist configures a way to shrink the average human male, a Mr. John Smith, if you will. When he’s placed in a petri dish and monitored, you could guess how he would react. Physically, he would be sweating, pacing and frantically pushing the confines of his prison. Mentally, he’d want to know two things:

  1. “Where am I?”
  2. “Where is everyone else?”

Notice that the first thing we all ask in unfamiliar surroundings is, “where am I?” Our ability to assess our surroundings is what keeps us sane. We need to know what we’re dealing with and if there is an eminent threat. At first, we are concerned about ourselves. Second, we ponder where everyone else is.

The second instinct is as obvious as the first. We need others so that we don’t feel alone; so that we can build purpose from our actions, our words and our feelings. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not a weakness. We have an innate need and desire for legitimate, human connections. Without them, we are lost.

Now, let’s revisit the first thought of Mr. John Smith, “where am I?” His mind is first concerned with his location, situation and decision. Next, it’s concerned about the whereabouts, thoughts and opinions of others. Now, let’s use this format as a guide to taking advice from others. When you are considering a decision that will impact your personal happiness, consider your instinct first: a priority. Consider theirs second: an alternative.

Let me break down how advice-givers, despite good intentions, may do you harm:

  1. They may solely draw upon their own beliefs and experiences.
  2. They may not truly understand you or what you want.

When others give you advice, their solutions may be biased. I call this toxic projection. They have their own track record, roads that they’ve taken, morals that they have, etc. Remember, you are not them. What worked for them, may not work for you. What’s best for them, may not be best for you.

Many advice-givers (Unintentional Projectors) do not know they are projecting their own agenda onto the advice-seekers; this group simply wants to help, they mean no harm. The ones that do know (Intentional Projectors), are giving you an answer that will benefit them. But fear not, you can easily spot Intentional Projectors by weighing their gains against your own. If the solution would more-so work in their favor, reject and dismiss. And then you may encounter the few who gave you exceptional advice (Enlightened Projectors), are reiterating what you knew all along! If you hone in and listen to your intuition, you’ll start to see this scenario play out over and over again.

You can play with outside ideas and opinions. But, at the end of the day, do outsiders truly know you? They are outside of you, after all. There are figments of your personality and experiences that are in restricted areas. People sure as hell can’t reach it, and YOU may not even go there. Try visiting sometime! You’ll find that the more you discover and trust yourself, the more successful the outcome.

A year ago, I visited a psychic, arms crossed and tongue waiting to unfold with accusations of fraud. I left with quite the opposite feeling. I left empowered, cradling life-altering advice: “trust your intuition over words of another,” she said, “you will know the right answer.” I tested the accuracy of this statement and so far, so good! I still have rant sessions with my friends and consider their opinions. But, in the end, I have to side with my intuition. Now that’s something to chew on.

Happy Discovering!

Amber