Regular readers (thank you!!) know that I’m on a journey of self-forgiveness at the moment. It’s not an easy path to choose, and there are times I really want the whole feeling of uncomfortablness to go away. Have you ever noticed when you blow up a balloon, then let it deflate you can never quite empty it completely? This is exactly why self-forgiveness has to encompass all areas of guilt/shame, not just selective areas. For example, I forgive myself for snapping at the waiter today, but I will never forgive myself for not going to the gym (and therefore showing my lack of willpower yet again). Sooner or later you have to address it all. I was heading out to participate in a discussion (a TV show in fact) about failure this week and I could feel the angst building in my body. It was clear evidence that my guilt/shame is like the remaining air in a balloon – it still shows up in pockets of the latex.
I spent a lot of time processing my thoughts around failure and self-love, but when my physiology has unmissable reactions to visiting deep painful regrets that’s when I realise there’s more work to be done. Haven’t I done enough? Haven’t I turned a corner? Haven’t I forgiven myself enough already? Just like you can’t be half pregnant, you can’t half forgive youself either. Here’s why…
For some of us, our beliefs and subsequent thoughts fill a balloon that becomes part of our life. We’re constantly processing and judging ourselves, inflating the balloon.It is full of our self doubt;inner criticism; self-talk; inner judgement; worry about what others think of us. Initially, the balloon is easy to handle and therefore rather than release it, we carry it with us unpurterbed.
Problems happen if we let the ballon reach its capacity. When it is stretched to its limits.
There are ways to let the air out – to manage our self-care. Habits like meditation; talking to others about our problems; exercise; eating well; and connecting with others helps to deflate the balloon. Some of us do this so well, we don’t need to carry a balloon – as soon as problems occur, they are dealt with and forgotten. For others though, complete lack of self care bursts the balloon and this may look like depression, anxiety, alcoholism, overeating, and physical ailments.
I’ve come to realise that although I have let most of the air out of my balloon, it is still something that needs my attention. It is still full, just not to breaking point (thankfully!). A little bit of self forgiveness is not enough to empty the balloon. Even though I have done a lot to release the pressure, and am feeling good as a result, my balloon has not yet expelled all the air inside.The pockets remain. For the last year or so I have made a decision to carry it, after all, I’m still able to function – right? I know though that if I don’t deflate it completely I risk a total blow out because I’m still holding it. Especially when I am feeling under pressure.
I can’t forgive myself “a little bit”, or, truth be told, just for the stuff that is easy to forgive. I have to be able to pop the remaining bubbles. To love myself without conditions. The minute I forgive myself only a little bit, I am acknowledging that I am still faulty, and I risk allowing the balloon to inflate again. I’d much prefer to see it popped and discarded at this time in my life.
I’ve spoken to many people this past year who have inflated and deflated their balloons, but i don’t know of too many who have managed to destroy them completely with total self love and forgiveness. How about you?