How can we be loving, accepting and forgiving of OURSELVES unconditionally?

20 November, 2008

To be able to treat ourselves with love, the kind of unconditional love you have for your children or pet, and to accept and forgive ourselves when we make a mistake is hard for most of us.  I remember when I was just starting out my NLP training and I read Louise L Hay's well known book You Can Heal Your Life.  Louise L Hay has been a huge influence in the self-help, mind-body healing world.  She healed herself of cancer completely naturally using her mind, and firmly believes that physically ailments are a result of unresolved emotional stuff which manifests as 'dis-ease' in the body.  In the first few pages of her book she claims that the reason that clients come to her for help, no matter what the 'presenting' problem is, comes down to the fundamental limiting belief of "I'm not good enough".  

When I first read that I truly thought "yeah right, she obviously hasn't trained in NLP she doesn't know what she's on about!"  and now, having had several years experience working with clients one on one, I am beginning to partially agree with her theory; and I can relate to it personally as well.  I have done significant self-development work on myself over the years and it seems that a lot of it comes down to me being able to love myself unconditionally.  This is not meant in a vain way, or a narcissistic way, it simply means providing myself with love and approval, the kind of love I give those closest to me in my life.  This means: forgiving myself when I f*%k up (a technical term) and accepting myself for who I am; this means that I support and encourage myself with my own internal voice (as oppose to judge and criticising myself), I do those behaviours which are self-nurturing and self-preserving, I have clear boundaries in my professional and personal relationships, I give myself permission to be a good state of mind; happy, content, peaceful, and I provide financially for myself and continue to create a life of abundance (and not just financial abundance), I believe in myself and my abilities and set goals and enjoy challenging myself and support myself moving forward, I trust myself to be learning, continually, and I give myself feedback for improvement and make sure I notice all the bits I am doing WELL, as well as those things worthy of attention for improvement.  I praise myself for all I have achieved in my life and the difference I continue to make in the world.  I feel worthy of self-acknowledgement self-praise.  I have a positive self-image and practise good self-esteem through the messages I give myself and the way I talk to myself.  

Is this always natural, effortless and easy?  

The simple answer is no, it takes awareness and work.  I believe that loving oneself where we can give ourselves love, accept love from others, accept ourselves for exactly who we are and forgive ourselves when we f*%k up (technical term) is one of the highest human achievements, it is quite spiritually evolved in my view, and when we can practise this as a way of life, life flows easily and comfortably and true inner-happiness ensues.  It is, in my personal opinion, a continual process and therefore takes  awareness and dedication to keep practising (that's where I am at personally right now anyway, I know that the more and more I have this as an intention and continuous practice in my life, it will of course over time, become easy and simply a way of being in the world).  

Prime opportunities to practise of this process of loving and accepting and forgiving oneself unconditionally,  comes in those times when we (technical term coming up) f*% up, i.e. something goes wrong, we make a mistake, a blunder, things didn't turn out as we had planned, we ate something we planned not to, we accidentally offend someone, we make a decision that didn't turn out as expected, etc. 

I had an interesting experience of this quite recently, and I learnt an incredible amount form the whole experience - let me tell you!  I had, without knowing it at the time, offended a friend by making an off-hand, flippant comment one evening (I am an expressive person and this was an example of me saying something that had obviously not been well thought out!)   I had no idea at the time that my comment had quite significantly, offended my good friend, and I discovered so a few days later when talking on the phone to another friend.   This came as a surprise to me and I knew I had to remedy the situation straight away and did so by sincerely apologising.  I was, friends being friends, forgiven straight away by this person and then arranged for them to come over for dinner so I could make it up to them.  This happened a few weeks later and needless to say, everything is totally fine and dandy between us. 

Did I forget about it and move on straight away?  I wish I could say yes; and to be honest it took effort to get it clear in my own head.  I went straight into self-judgement, guilt, and beating my self up for being so 'thoughtless" and wondered what other people must think about it all.  Now, if I hadn't been a skilled NLP master practitioner, I imagine I could have easily tortured myself for weeks on end!  Fortunately for me,  I instead decided to interrupt this process and ask myself 'what can I learn from this?' thus turning it all around for myself. 

I remember sitting on the sofa, immediately after the telephone call where I had cleared things up with my friend, and feeling pleased the situation had been remedied.  However I was still doing some self-judgment and some less than useful thinking in my head.  My very affectionate cat at this point jumped up and sat on my lap and started purring loudly like a little tractor.  I remember thinking "at least she still loves me!"  and then I realised: that's what I had to do for myself!  I had to love me, and forgive me, and accept me, and to do so in the face of a f*%k up (technical term) meant that it was unconditional!  

With a little more focus and work I was able to do this for myself.  And wow - what an amazing learning experience and an opportunity to learn about self-love, self-acceptance and self-forgiveness.  And I knew it would be a great learning experience for others reading my blog too.

We've all had this experience at some point in our lives when we've perceived that we've done something "wrong" (and I say perceived  - as often, what we think we have done that's so terrible, turns out the other people that we were so worried about didn't even notice!) and we've looked upon the experience and cringed, judged ourselves harshly, felt guilty, beat ourselves up black and blue and laid awake worrying about the implications of our mistake. 

I went through this with a client recently and we came up with what I think is a very cool strategy to prevent wasted negative thought energy.  The thing to know first of all, is that these bad feelings we get is because we are doing them - guilt and disapproval don't just fall from the sky, we do them with the thoughts we are generate in our head.   It is undoubtedly an old pattern which got set up long ago, probably resulting from an internalisation of judgement and disapproval from another (usually care-giver, parent, teacher, someone else significant).  If we wish to get a different result, be easier and more forgiving of ourselves, treat ourselves the way we treat a loved one, a friend, we need to do something different now; and in any given moment we can choose to do that, even if it takes a little effort.  After all, why should we continue to talk to ourselves disapprovingly, just because someone did it to us when were young?  We are adults now, and we can make choices about how to respond to events in our lives!  Choices that allow us to balance social responsibility and politeness with being good and kind to ourselves too.  

Here's a simple strategy which will save you heaps of time and energy;

Staying in Reality

(1)  Check reality

As yourself:  what has actually happened?  What is actually the problem? Has anything actually happened here?

(2)  Do I need to do anything to remedy it?

If NO:  go straight to (4)

If YES: go straight to (3)

(3) Do whatever needs to be done; apologising, finding out more, making a phone call to follow up etc.

Then ask yourself:  Have I done everything I need to?

If NO:  Do whatever needs to be done next!  Or plan to do it, and then go to (4)

IF YES:  go straight to (4)

(4)  When nothing further can be done - tell yourself "it's OK to let go of this now"  and let it go.  If it comes back into your mind again, go through this strategy again so you can really convince yourself that nothing else can be done.  If it is still difficult, focus on "what can I learn from this?"

(5) Focus on a future goal

This is effective when it's repeated again and again, just like any new skill, so it becomes a new habit.  It is also effective when you realise can come back to it at any given 'now' moment.  That means, that if you forget to do it and accidentaly remember to spend time worrying instead, don't beat yourselves up for that, just make that choice in the now to do something differentt, and then come back to it, no problem!  You can make any choice in the 'now' moment.

Have fun practising and praise yourselves for giving it a go.

Wishing you a lot of love in your lives (and lots of it coming from you).  Before you go to sleep at night, say to yourselves:

I love me, I forgive me, I accept me.  

Love from, 

Charlotte. for NLP services in Wellington, New Zealand. 

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