Finding your Inner Badass and Becoming a Spiritual Rule-breaker

Showing his "lighter" side!I’m going to tell you a very embarrassing story. It was Halloween and I was 24, and in my first year of my Master’s program to become a therapist. I had decided to throw a party and had invited a dozen or so people from my M.A. program over to my house for some drinks before heading out to some parties in town. I remember I had dressed up in some random clothes I had in the back of my closet and I looked like a Saloon girl from the Wild West. I remember feeling embarrassed that I was dressed in a sexy low-cut shirt and bustier.

As my friends started coming over, I opened some bottles of wine. In part to mask my own feelings of shame about my attire, I had a couple glasses of wine. Before I knew it, I was tipsy. Very tipsy. And instead of feeling better about my sexy Halloween costume, I felt worse. To add more fuel to the fire of my inner shame storm, I began to feel embarrassed about the fact that I was now also a bit drunk.

In my intoxicated state, I began loudly telling anyone who would listen “Please don’t judge me, I know I’m a bit drunk and dressed like this. Don’t judge me because I’m a therapist. I know I’m supposed to be spiritual. I’m a therapist, I shouldn’t be doing this. Don’t judge me.” My sweet young 24-year-old self was terrified of looking anything less than perfect. I thought that if I was studying to be a therapist, I had to be a beacon of morality and prudence at all times. I thought that I should always be wise, compassionate, serious, and able to show up for others in need at all times. I thought I should basically emulate Jesus (seriously, I really did). At the age of 24, I had a very strict code of conduct for myself that prohibited me from dressing sexy, drinking too much, acting silly, being too loud, saying what was on my mind, or being rambunctious in any way. This code of conduct put a damper on the part of me that was young, wild, and wanted to explore the world and my emerging self.

I was stuck in my identity as a “spiritual person.” With this identity came rules in my head about what it meant to be spiritual. Some of these rules were: “Spiritual people do not drink. Spiritual people do not act sexy. Spiritual people do not have fun. Spiritual people do not flirt. Spiritual people should not want sex. Spiritual people should not care about dating. Spiritual people should not eat meat. Spiritual people should be modest and humble at all times. Spiritual people should dress conservatively. Spiritual people should meditate an hour every single day. Spiritual people should be meek and mild. Spiritual people should wear purple.” The list goes on and on.

Which is why, on Halloween night when I was 24, I spent the majority of the night walking around in my bar maid’s outfit, telling people how sorry I was that I was a therapist who was a bit drunk and asking them not to judge me.

I still feel a bit embarrassed sharing this story, but I do it because looking back, I can see how clearly my rules of what it means to be spiritual kept me in a prison. I have since broken out of that prison and can see that I had rules that kept me in a dualistic mindset. I thought that certain behaviors were designated spiritual, and certain behaviors were not. I know now that God can be in every moment of any action. You cannot take spirituality out of life.

Many of us have taken vows of poverty and chastity in past lives. Most of us at some point lived lifetimes where we were in religious groups that had very strict rules about what and wasn’t ok to be spiritual. We have all at some point denied ourselves money, sex, food, alcohol, and physical comfort in an effort to find enlightenment and get to God.

However, it is time for an update. We now live in a time of evolution where we are realizing we don’t have to give up life to be spiritual. Life is spiritual. The two cannot be separated. You can have a drink, make love, eat a steak, and still be as worthy as the monk meditating on the mountain top. There is nothing you have to do to get to God. God lives inside of you. What all of our spiritual studies across lifetimes have taught us is that God lives in you, as you. You cannot be separated.

So enjoy your life. If you have a drink, enjoy every little sip of it. If you wear an outfit that you feel sexy and attractive in, enjoy the feeling of being in your own body and skin. If you flirt with a stranger, feel the pulse of God running through the moment. If you have sex, feel the loving of God in your heart pouring out through your body. Enjoy every little morsel of Earth’s goodness.

Break your own spiritual rules. You’ll find that all God ever wanted for you was to know complete and total freedom.

Do you have any of the following beliefs that need to be cleared up? Repeat the belief and take a deep breath. (Quick note: I use the word “God” because it resonates with me. If you prefer a different word such as “Universe, Higher Self, All that Is, Soul,” please use that instead).

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that I have to be perfect to get to God.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that if I make a mistake, God won’t welcome me back.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that having fun is a waste of time and not spiritual.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing I have to be strict with myself to get to God.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that sex is bad, shameful, or impure.

 

Why Forgiving Others Doesn’t Really Matter

I’m going to say something very controversial in self-help circles. This isn’t a popular viewpoint, but it is something I have discovered through my years of practice. I’m going to tell you that all those people who have done you wrong, hurt you, betrayed you, stomped on your heart, and called you names – don’t forgive them.

Let go of the fight inside.Forgive copyWhat?

“But isn’t being spiritual about forgiving everyone and loving them? Isn’t that what being a good person is?”

Sorta.

Here’s the thing, forgiveness is incredibly important. I would argue that it is the most important aspect of healing there is. My entire healing practice is based on forgiveness and I have witnessed people’s lives changes instantly with just a small dose of well-placed forgiveness. But here is my secret: it isn’t forgiving others that matters, but forgiving yourself.

The mind is a funny thing. When we go through difficult experiences, even if we logically know those experiences aren’t our fault, some part of us forms a belief that what happened is our fault. Our mind likes to take everything personally. We want so desperately to understand why something happened, and the mind’s logical conclusion is that we must have done something wrong or that we are bad in some way.

I’m not sure why the mind is wired this way, but it is. And it isn’t a problem, if we know how to bypass the mind and get back into our loving.

We do this through self-forgiveness.

The next time you are in a difficult situation, I want you to try something. Just for a second, forget about the other person or people involved. I want you to place a hand on your heart, close your eyes, and say to yourself:

I am so sorry you had to go through what you did.

I love you.

Please forgive me.

I forgive myself.

And take a deep breath. Forgive yourself for just having had to go through what you did.

You will likely feel a release in your body and the return of joy.

The really exciting thing is, that once we forgive ourselves, oftentimes forgiveness towards the person who wronged us starts to happen spontaneously. We don’t have to force it, or make ourselves forgive someone when we are still struggling with real hurt.

All we have to do is reach into that part of ourselves that was hurt, and offer ourselves the love and forgiveness we think we should be offering to another.

Love and forgive yourself first and foremost.

Once you have forgiven yourself, it might feel natural to then do a similar forgiveness process with the person who harmed you. Feel free to if it feels natural. But please don’t force yourself.

Love yourself so much that you offer yourself forgiveness and acceptance above all. Stay gentle and soft with yourself, letting yourself know you will never betray yourself by offering forgiveness to someone else when you aren’t ready. Just keep loving yourself and forgiving yourself for where you are at. The rest will take care of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-forgiveness: The Key to True Healing that You’ve Probably been Missing

There is a lot of talk in the healing world about forgiveness. We all know that to truly let go of a situation or person that has disturbed us, we need to forgive. This world is a tough place and all of us are at one time or another, the subjects of mean words, traumatic accidents, gossip, criticism, and sometimes even physical, emotional, or sexual violence. Life as a human being can be hard!

Often times when difficult things occur, a piece of ourselves gets stuck in the negative event. While this society can be pretty harsh, we aren’t taught how to really release and integrate a difficult experience. This leaves many of us walking around with minor or major PTSD – anxiety, depression, flashbacks, general unease, etc.

One thing we are taught is that we need to forgive others when we’ve been the victim of some kind of perpetration, whether minor or major. And it is true, forgiveness can radically help a healing process. But I have found that for mysForgive yourself and forget about(1) copyelf, even once I’ve forgiven someone who has hurt me in some way, I still feel hurt. I still spend time and energy thinking about the event and I still feel anxious that the event could happen again. When I forgive another, I feel better, but I usually don’t feel great.

It wasn’t until I stumbled onto the power of self-forgiveness that I realized it was even possible to feel great again. I was doing my M.A. and had started working with an incredible spiritual teacher in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He led me through a series of self-forgiveness exercises that completely transformed my life. In five or ten minutes, I was able to once and for all, heal some situations that were still hanging out in my body and mind. He led me through a process to recover the parts of myself that had gotten stuck in those negative events. And at once, I felt my entire body soften. I felt joy and inklings of happiness again. I started to feel like me, the real me. Self-forgiveness turned out to be a magical process that changed my life forever.

Through working with my spiritual mentor, I realized that we’ve had it wrong this whole time. Forgiveness of another is not the way to fully heal, forgiveness of yourself is. In working with hundreds of clients, I have witnessed firsthand the power of self-forgiveness. I would even be so bold as to argue that forgiving others doesn’t matter, but forgiving yourself does. I would also say that once your forgive yourself, forgiveness of another happens spontaneously and without any effort.

My hope is that one day we will all be taught the power of self-forgiveness and how to actually do it. If you are wanting to try self-forgiveness out for yourself, you can try this exercise (for simplicity sake I am using a female pronoun but this exercise works equally well for men and women).

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes.
  • Call to mind a difficult event that still doesn’t feel resolved.
  • Look at the you who is in the event, experiencing it. We are going to gently work with that version of you.
  • Call that version of you over to you. Hold her, nurture her, put a blanket around her. Do whatever feels natural. Give her some love.
  • Look at that version of you and repeat this statement “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I am so sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. I forgive myself.”
  • Take a deep breath and notice what happens in your body.
  • Give that version of you whatever love and attention she needs.