I sat in the dark theater trying my best not to do the ugly cry, but I couldn’t help it. So with my black mascara running, bottom lip quivering, and snot dripping down my nose, I watched the final moments of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s about two lovers (impeccably played by Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey) who go to extreme lengths to forget about one another after breaking up. After finding out Clementine (Kate Winslet) had the memories of their relationship erased Joel (Jim Carrey) decides to do the same.
Revisiting this movie made me think about the great lengths we go to to forget our hurt, pain, anger, sadness and shame. While these characters used a futuristic procedure to forget most of us try to erase the past through numbing ourselves with food, entertainment, alcohol, sex, drugs and toxic relationships and behaviors.
However, no matter how hard we try to get away from the pain, it seems to always find us again.
But what if I told you there was a way to wipe the slate clean and start over?
The (Real) Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
Forgiveness is the real eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.
Through forgiveness, we don’t have to erase our memories, we’re able to start anew at anytime.
If you’re thinking, ‘Yeah, great I wanted something a little more than that,” stick with me for a moment.
Imagine, walking down a path and having one big and bright source of light, a golden ball. This ball illuminates everything, like the sun would, and you can see very far off in the distance. As you walk down this path, unbeknownst to you little pieces of the ball fall off along the way. After walking for a very long time you notice that you can barely see the road ahead. When you look down, you realize all that’s left of your ball of golden light is a fragment that barely lights your way. You turn around to see a sea of golden pieces on the road behind you.
This is what happens to most of us as we journey down life’s path — we get hurt and leave pieces of ourselves in the past. Those pieces represent our brilliance, our joy, our hope and our creativity. Pretty soon, we’re only a shadow of who we once were.
Through forgiving ourselves we have the ability to harvest the beautiful fragments of our light and once again stand in our brilliance.
Recently, I’ve been going deeper in my own forgiveness process. Even after years of doing forgiveness work I realized that I was being hard on myself. Every time I walked down the path of shoulda, woulda, and coulda I felt a huge wave of sadness wash over me.
The only way to break free was through forgiveness, and in my case self-forgiveness.
After working with many clients on this topic I’ve found that the trend is that most of us have the remarkable capacity to forgive others. We turn the blind eye, we take that person back, and we mend that friendship. However, in case after case the hardest person to forgive is often the woman or man in the mirror.
We beat ourselves up over not following through on that big idea, hurting others, and making poor choices. However, doing this keeps our energy stuck in the various corners of our past. Staying there is a surefire way of creating more regrets, because we’re unable to see the possibilities that are right in front of us.
Furthermore, living here gives power to our hurt, pain, anger, sadness, shame and blame and we deny the gifts forgiveness has to offer us. Our light is fragmented and we’re unable to create a bold and brilliant future.
The Gifts of Forgiveness
The Gift of Freedom
When you make a decision to forgive yourself, you reclaim your future and that’s freedom. Your decision says that this situation/choice will no longer be the anchor that holds you back. Once you release yourself from the past’s emotional grip, you’re free to consciously create what you truly want.
The Gift of Presence + Light
By choosing to forgive you immediately step into the present moment which is where your light (or power) lies. By not forgiving you’re constantly tied to past circumstances and events and are reliving the memory whether consciously or subconsciously. Often without realizing it, that moment affects all of your decisions and you create ways to punish yourself.
The Gift of Love + Compassion
Forgiving yourself is one of the greatest acts of self-love and compassion. Through self-love you are able to extend that love and compassion to others because you’ve given it to yourself.
How To Forgive Yourself
1. Identify what one thing do you most need to forgive yourself for.
2. What keeps you from forgiving yourself?
Many times we don’t forgive ourselves because…
It’s too difficult.
We believe we don’t deserve forgiveness.
It hurts too much.
3. What are you gaining by not forgiving yourself?
As humans, we constantly do things to protect ourselves. Even disempowering behaviors are done for this reason. Here are a few ideas of what you might be gaining by not forgiving yourself:
You get to be right.
You get to be in control.
You get to ignore it and not deal with it.
4. How can you take responsibility so that you can forgive yourself?
5. Identify the benefit of forgiving yourself. What would you gain through forgiveness?
6. Write an uncensored letter.
One of my favorite forgiveness tools is to write an uncensored letter. In this letter really give yourself full license to express your pain/frustration/anger about the situation. After you’re complete continue writing about why it’s important to forgive yourself. Why must you let this go now? If you’re willing to let go of this the final step is to burn your letter in a safe manner. As your letter burns repeat, “I forgive myself and allow all the pain to dissolve right now.” Keep repeating this until you feel complete. For the rest of the day be gentle and compassionate with yourself and do something to celebrate gifting yourself forgiveness.
Will You Choose Your Light?
Not forgiving yourself is like swimming in the ocean and having an iron ball and chain tied to your ankle. Even though it appears you’re swimming you’re actually stuck in the same place.
Forgiveness removes roadblocks from our path and reclaims all the broken fragments from your golden ball of light. By deciding to forgive yourself you are making a choice to heal yourself. You’re also choosing to look at every circumstance in your life as an opportunity to grow. When you heal the parts of you that hurt, you’re able to write a new chapter instead of re-reading the same page.
>>>Are you willing to give yourself the gift of forgiveness? If so, in the comments, please share your thoughts on forgiveness. And if you enjoyed this post please hit the share buttons on this page. Thank you for reading!<<<
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Image Credit: Peter Strain