Self-acceptance is really something that is so important as part of your Change Journey because we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people. It's just something we've been brought up to do. We look at people and we have this opinion of their lives, based on our perspective of it. Then we judge ourselves based off that.
It's very much like that old analogy of a duck kicking water… you just see the duck beautifully gliding across the top of the water but you don't see the feet, madly paddling underneath. That's what we do when we compare ourselves with other people, we see these people on social media or in real life having successes and great times and we’re comparing our lives, the real ones, with their highlight reel. So we're comparing our paddling under the water with them gliding across water. I like to say that we are comparing our internals (the way we feel and the way we judge ourselves) with somebody’s external (their projected perfect life) and we actually don't stop and think that they have internal feelings and judgement going on as well.
And that's where the parallel breaks down and that's where our self-esteem starts to lack and judgment kicks in. So self-acceptance is one of the biggest stages of The Change Journey because it's about learning to accept who you are, where you're at in life, your good points, your bad points and everything in between.
That’s why Forgiving Fiona is the first character in the self-acceptance stage of The Change Journey, because forgiveness is one of the things that can set us free from all the comparative emotions that we carry around with us like resentment, guilt, jealousy etc that have built up over time as we experience events.
Here’s what happens… let's say an event happened when you were 15, and there was a lot of resentment, you were really angry. You then carry that negativity with you moving forwards and every time something crops up similar to that event, maybe there's a smell, another situation that's very similar, or you see somebody who reminds you of the person involved in that situation, this brings up more and more negativity and reinforces to you that you want to hang on to that resentment or anger.
Forgiveness is the thing that sets you free from all of that.
But forgiveness doesn't condone what happened, it doesn't excuse what happened. What happened was real, so your feelings around that event, at that time are incredibly real and worrying. What you don't want to be doing is 20 years down the track still hanging on to those feelings, because they're no longer serving you and they’ll be hindering your change journey. So when you bring in forgiveness, either to the other person or yourself or the event or whatever it is, then that frees you from those negative emotions.
By the way, you don't have to wait 20 years to forgive people, you can start bringing in forgiveness as early as you like. As soon as you feel like you're ready to let go of the negativity, that's when you want to bring the forgiveness in.
Here’s what I invite you to do to bring in your Forgiving Fiona… take a look at your past and ask yourself what are all the anger, resentments, jealousies, guilt… what are all those negative emotions that I'm hanging on to from yesterday, right back into my birth, and how can I forgive that person, forgive that event, or forgive myself?
Don’t do this in your journal because this is a clearing exercise, clearing out all the crap that you carry with you so that you can release it and move forward.
Write down the event, what happened, who the person was, and then dump all the feelings that you have around that and be really articulate. For instance
I was really angry when they
I felt betrayed because of
I felt guilty because I
Be honest and open with yourself, nobody's going to see this apart from you, so bring in your self-awareness and really own the feelings that you still feel towards these events. Once you have done that, then I invite you to go back and have a look at all those things that you've just written about and say to yourself:
How can I look at that from a different perspective?
If I put some rose coloured glasses on and look at it in a little bit more of a positive light, was there something that I did to contribute to the event?
Was there a learning in that for me?
Was there a positive that came out of that?
Then what I want you to do is forgive yourself. Write down the words “I forgive me for my part in this, and I also forgive the other person for their role in it, even though they made me feel…”. I want you to write that down for every single thing event you’ve discovered you are holding negative feelings towards.
Once you feel like you have got to the point where you've written out all your anger and done the forgiveness, that’s when you look back on that situation and you’ll realise you don't feel as tight, you don't feel as heavy and you don't feel as angry.
Then it's time to go and burn or shred that piece of paper. While you're doing that burning or shredding, I want you to really feel like you're releasing all that negativity from you as the paper gets destroyed.
So the process is:
1. Get the negativity out of you and onto the paper
2. Write the I forgive statements
3. Destroy the paper it so those feelings are completely gone.
Time does help, it allows you to sit in a place of awareness and start looking back at events without judgment and maybe with a different perspective around what happened.
Remember too a lot of the time, the person we need to forgive is ourselves. Let’s take mother guilt as an example: when I look back on my motherhood, there are many events that I think I could have handled differently. Funnily enough we are the only ones carrying negativity around… the kids have moved on, they don't care, it was just something that happened to them. But you as the mother carry that guilt for years and years.
Another powerful way to bring in forgiveness is to apologise to someone or yourself if you can.