In a writing workshop at The Enchanted Fox in Medway, Massachusetts, eight participants and I gathered for Meditation and More--a two-hour session of intimate conversation, journal writing, and cleansing breathing.
A few of the women knew each other from a writing group they participate in, but the rest of us had never met. Through some simple writing exercises that took only 5-10 minutes each, we all started revealing to ourselves and one another some of our most troubling life situations and challenges, even those that are "only" in our heads.
Truth is, the ones in our heads are the toughest to conquer. That squirrel who runs riot in our skulls is not easily quieted.
When you reflect in writing on an old misdeed, some amazing things happen. You see how minor that offense was, even if it seemed major at the time. You forgive yourself because you can see, via the writing artifact, that the person who made that error was truly another person. Still yourself, of course, but also someone younger with less knowledge, wisdom, and compassion than you have today.
Next is the real miracle, however. Forgiving yourself once makes it easier to forgive yourself again, for things that might have just happened yesterday.
Part of forgiving ourselves means making an amends sometimes. But if that isn't yet possible, the writing of the amends is the first step toward the actual.
Other times, we have simply exaggerated the importance of the mistake. We tend to think of ourselves as more important than we really are. Everyone is not focused on us. When we see the description of the behavior that is so disappointing to ourselves, we can then go on to imagine the other person's life and get a clearer perspective of whether that person really took it as seriously as we did ourselves.
We are often our own worst critic. Writing lets us let go of that voice for a short time, and then read what we did so that we can do it again.
Back down, inner critic!
Then, balance the writing with a short retelling of something good you did for another person that day.
Get some perspective. Write it out.
I watched this woman's eyes light up with the realization that she can forgive herself as rapidly as she can forgive others.
There's so much to be gained through this process, and really, nothing to lose but 20 minutes or so. And is that really a loss?
We enjoyed being together. The group energy was in itself healing. All those good vibes directed toward one another! All that mutual support ... even among women who had just met.
There's more to say about this great experience, but not to cloud it, I want to focus today on just that one moment. Self-forgiveness. It's a beautiful thing.
Write it out. Rewrite yourself.