STEPS TO FINDING PEACE & MOVING ON FROM THE PAST By Swami Karasananda (Kathryn Romani)
We all make mistakes. We all make choices that do not turn out for the best and, sometimes, can make circumstances worse. Why? Because...
We are human. We were never meant to have all the answers. We learn from experience, so we may have not have prior knowledge to guide our decision making.
Therefore, we cannot blame ourselves for being naive, trusting, innocent or inexperienced. Regardless of how hard we try to be perfect, humans were NOT created to be flawless.
We need to adjust our expectations to reality. The only person who expects perfection from you is YOU! And when you don’t live up to your own expectations, you’re likely to mentally beat yourself up over it. So, let’s practice self-forgiveness, which is a way to move on from whatever mistakes you feel you’ve made, as well as releasing the heavy emotions, guilt, regret and stress it may be causing.
One critical question can change your outlook:
If all people were perfect, we would be like robots. We would have no use for that wonderful gift of free will. Free will gives us the opportunity to make choices and experience the consequences — sometimes good, sometimes bad. Therefore, it’s critical for anyone wanting to grow and evolve, to go back and review the major mistakes you made in life. For each mistake, ask yourself: “Did I do the best that I could do, at that moment, under those circumstances, with the knowledge I had at that time?” Chances are that you DID. Back then, you didn’t have the wisdom that you have today. It’s unfair to judge your past actions based upon your current knowledge and experience.
How can you forgive yourself? Here are 3 ways:
1. Acknowledge your mistake to yourself out loud. Why? Because in order to let something go in your mind, you need to give it a voice. When you speak your truth, allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise as you hear your own words. In essence, when you are able to acknowledge, hear, and feel your mistake and truly “sit with it,” you will more easily be able to understand it, release it and unburden yourself from it. Then (as mentioned above) ask yourself: “Did I do the best that I could do, at that moment, under those circumstances, with the knowledge I had at that time?”
2. Consider your mistake as an opportunity to learn. If you can see the lesson behind your mistake, you can grow, change and choose to make better decisions moving forward. On the flip side, if you don’t learn the lesson, you risk repeating the same mistake again and again. This can hold back your personal growth and lead to frustration. That’s why reflecting on mistakes and thinking about how to not repeat them is integral to the forgiveness process.
3. Pray for yourself (prayer is not solely a religious gesture; it’s a spiritual action that can benefit everyone).
The act of praying for yourself is equivalent to forgiving yourself because it acknowledges your desire to receive blessings from the Universe. Praying for yourself and forgiving yourself are important actions that can restore your peace of mind. Here is a simple prayer that you can say when you desire to mentally and emotionally show yourself loving kindness: “May I be mentally happy. May I be physically happy. May I be safe. May I have ease of well-being.”
Know that letting go and giving yourself the gift of forgiveness can boost your self-esteem, allowing you to move forward with ease and confidence. It can also help you to be more compassionate with those around you, which can strengthen relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and more.
For a deeper take on forgiveness, check out Swami Karasananda’s “Forgiveness Ritual” here. As a spiritual teacher, she brings fresh insights to the topic.