How do we reconcile and look at ourselves in the mirror after doing things we are ashamed, embarrassed and not proud especially if we have an addiction?
1) Self-Forgiveness is the most vital and often overlooked spiritual principle I know. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Without a doubt, I would still be using, or possibly dead had I not mastered the art of Self-Forgiveness.
But it was the hardest lesson I ever learned and here is why. It’s sad to say, but most of us were taught as little children to criticize the shit out of ourselves when we made mistakes or did bad things. You see, I was programmed to believe I was not good enough and not allow to make mistakes as a little boy. I was the mistake, was the message heard and when bad things that happened I felt shame. This is why a lot of children believe it’s their fault when their parents get divorced as a simple example.
Please hear me when I say, there is no one to blame because our parents learned it from their parents and so it's generationally past on programming. However, now that we know better we must wake up and stop passing on the shame. Let’s teach our children it's ok to make mistakes and to forgive themselves for being human. It must start in childhood.
“Knowing where the shame came from made the letting go possible. Secondly, there is no way I would have forgiven myself without it because without it there is no compassion." Paul Noiles
2) Shadow work was how I finally forgave all.
The shadow obscures our inability to confront the heavy emotion of shame but make no mistakes about our shadow is part of the human experience. Contrasts, or opposites, are necessary for this experience. We need both the darkness and light to be the authentic human beings. There is a purpose to the dark; in fact, our most significant gifts are there. For example, if it were not for my addiction, I would have never awakened and found recovery. There is gold in them hills, but we must go mining for it.
Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you're not. You will no longer have to prove you're good enough.~ Debbie Ford
There’s a recovery saying: Our secrets keep us sick. Our secrets are lurking in the shadows, and if we don’t deal with the shadows, they will deal with us. There is no way we can dismantle the mistaken identity without dealing with the shadows.
When we shine the light, gently and bravely, onto our shadow, we can acknowledge the full humanity of ourselves. As we do so, the grip of shame relaxes, and we become less defensive. By recognizing the part of ourselves we denied, we can let go of our shame and make peace with ourselves.
Most of my healing began and ended in self-forgiveness.
It was not until I looked these shadows in the eye and said, “I forgive you” that I finally felt forgiven. At that moment, I heard: I forgive you for not finishing university. I forgive you for introducing Nicole to cocaine. I forgive you for allowing Tiny (puppy) to be taken away from you because of active addiction. I forgive you for being dishonest with your mom, dad, brother and sister over many years of addiction. I forgive you for cheating on your now ex-wife. I forgive you for trying to kill yourself. I forgive you for believing you were worthless, less than and not good enough. It was in that moment when my shadow and I became ONE, and the constant fear of hiding from others left me.
3) Understanding what addiction is, also helped to take away my shame and made self-forgiveness a little easier. People like Gabor Mate MD and his definition of addiction:
Here are his own words from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts:
"We need to avoid the trap of believing that addiction can be reduced to the actions of brain chemicals or nerve circuits or any other kind of neurobiological, psychological or sociological data. A multilevel exploration is necessary because it’s impossible to understand addiction fully from any one perspective no matter how accurate. Addiction is a complex condition, a complex interaction between human beings and their environment. We need to view it simultaneously from many different angles—or, at least, while examining it from one angle, we need to keep the others in mind. Addiction has biological, chemical, neurological, psychological, medical, emotional, social, political, economic, and spiritual underpinnings---and perhaps others I haven’t thought about. To get anywhere near a complete picture we must keep shaking the kaleidoscope to see what other patterns emerge."
4)The teaching that opened my heart the most about forgiveness was from ACIM- A Course in Miracles. In the course, it says, “The Source (God) does not know forgiveness because God is LOVE so it cannot forgive only because IT has never condemned.” In other words, it is only my ego self that stops me from knowing all is forgiven at all times because the Non-Dual Life Force is LOVE and so it does not know forgiveness or condemnation.
The bottom line is there can be no authentic life if we are still walking around with our secrets and hating who we are. We must become willing to share our deepest secrets with another human being; it’s the only way through. Self-forgiveness is not about condoning any behaviours where we hurt others. If amends is needed, of course, we must make them.
Forgiveness of others is, of course, another big part of it of the equation but not enough space.
I can personally tell you there can be no awakened life, no joyful life and no recovered life without self- forgiveness.