The Practice of Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness is officially part of Step 4 although as you work through the Receive Your Life system you will see that it is really an important part of each step.
When you get to Step 4 – Understanding Your Resistance – you may question why you would ever compromise yourself. Why would you diminish yourself or attempt to be less than or other than who you truly are? Why would you feel you had to be obedient to rules that limit you from being your true self? You may also find yourself feeling that others in your life have played a role in your doing this to yourself, perhaps have even created pressure for you to live as someone other than who you truly are. This is where the practice of understanding, compassion, and forgiveness is so valuable.
THE PRACTICE OF UNDERSTANDING
Understanding involves having information and awareness about what is really taking place, looking through the lens of what you know today. If you reflect back on a rule you were following, ask yourself: “Where did this rule come from?” “Why would I come up with that?” If you understand why you have been obedient to the rule, it explains why you arrived at the limiting belief and why you’re using the rule to diminish yourself.
Quite often, when we become aware that we are thinking and acting based on a limiting belief, we feel powerless to do anything about it. We look at the limiting belief that is at work, and we may then become discouraged by seeing it. We may see that the limiting belief just sits there as if it is true. Even if we know it is not true, we can find it difficult to see any possibilities beyond it. This is because this limiting belief is so strong and has been with us for so long.
Just know that you can look objectively and calmly at your limiting beliefs. As you do, you can use more neutral phrases about these beliefs such as, “this is so interesting.” This will help you see deeper into the belief. For example, “It is so interesting that I believe I am lazy.. Why do I believe this? When do I first remember coming to this conclusion?”
If you are able to separate yourself from the belief, you will gain more clarity. For example, it may be that your mother called you lazy if you weren’t constantly being productive around the house and she kept saying how you’re not going to amount to anything. Quite possibly she heard those messages from her parents and believed she was lazy and, to protect you, she wanted to make sure you didn’t end up lazy like her. From that, experience, you may have put together a rule that “lazy people don’t amount to anything.” Looking at it now, you may say to yourself, “that makes sense, why would I resist that rule?” The rule standing alone may not be so bad. However, what is damaging is how you interpreted the rule to mean you are lazy and therefore you will not amount to anything. You can start to understand how you came to have a misunderstanding of your value.
What happens when we latch onto a limiting belief such as “I am lazy” is we spend a large portion of our life trying to convince people we are not lazy. We’ll over work, over perform, over do because we live in fear that we are lazy and it is something we have to fix. That is how we get into the “never enough” or “not good enough” cycle. Yet, we know it’s not based on the truth of who we are because it diminishes us. It is said, and we hear it, in a derogatory and critical way. If a person really were lazy, and I don’t believe anyone truly is lazy but that is a topic for another discussion, the last thing they would be concerned about is not being lazy. If you look at a limiting belief you are living within, chances are you will see that it’s actually the opposite of who you are. That is how we get into the cycle of trying to fix what is not broken.
To understand the origin of the limiting belief notice, the rule it is attached to. Reflect back on where you first heard or became aware of that rule. Sometimes, these rules are spoken to us clearly, and at other times we come to the conclusion that it is a rule to follow. If the rule was spoken to you, notice who was speaking the rule. Can you understand their perspective? Usually rules were put in place to protect us or to help us survive. It is really important to understand how you interpreted the rule to arrive at the limiting belief. This helps you gain clarity on how you put together the misunderstanding of your value.
THE PRACTICE OF COMPASSION
You may hear yourself saying, “Oh no wonder I feel I am lazy no matter how hard I work”. Or why I say “no matter what I do it doesn’t matter. I have been living inside of the belief that I am lazy and that I will never amount to anything.
You may see something like this in your own mind and experience. And note that you can see where this came from and, that by having this misperception of yourself, you have been keeping this feeling going all these years.
With this realization, and this process of looking at what you are feeling and where this comes from, you can start to feel compassion for yourself. You might say, “I can see why I came to that conclusion. No matter what I did, it never seemed to be enough for my mother. I can see why I’ve been trying so hard my whole life, keeping myself busy and productive, to make sure I’m not perceived as lazy.”
Next in the process of compassion, notice who you felt you couldn’t be while you were diminishing yourself. Maybe, while trying not to be lazy, you couldn’t trust when things came easy to you; or if you could complete a project easily and effortlessly, you felt as if you were doing something wrong and would get criticized. You couldn’t be light and carefree.
Once you get to this place where you can look at a limiting belief you may have carried for a long time and acknowledge where you have been withholding yourself, you begin to feel compassion for yourself. With this softening of compassion, the limiting belief begins to loosen its grip.
Move slowly here. Sometimes when we first identify a limiting belief that has been with us for a long time, our initial reaction is to blame someone or something else. “He, she, or they did this to me.” “This is my parent’s fault, my sister’s fault, my teacher’s fault, etc.” Compassion for all who are caught up in limiting beliefs, starting with yourself, helps you move past these beliefs.
THE PRACTICE OF FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is not something that is given prematurely. We often hear we should forgive and move on, but this sort of thinking just keeps us stuck in the should cycle.
Actually, forgiveness is not something you have to consciously do. If you are trying to forgive and you can’t, you haven’t yet had a deep enough understanding of your situation. Instead of trying to jump ahead to forgiveness, to force forgiveness, it is much more effective to keep deepening your understanding of yourself and your situation. Keep looking at all of it from various angles. Stand back from the situation to see if this gives you greater clarity. Look at everything from many different angles.
If you have a limiting belief that originated with your parents, ask yourself if they were afraid. Gently look into your parents’ life and see if you can observe life through their lens. Did they express and live mostly by their true selves or by their false, compromised selves? Too often we listen to fearful people who tell us who we are.
Once you have a greater understanding of your own and other people’s situations, what naturally follows is compassion. Again, you don’t have to try to be compassionate. Compassion will be the natural outcome of understanding. The same is true for forgiveness.
As you understand more, you will feel more compassion for yourself. With the softening effects of compassion for yourself, you will naturally begin to release yourself, to forgive yourself for giving those rules so much power in your life and for living by those limiting beliefs. You will even be able to release and forgive the beliefs themselves.
Once the feeling of compassion for yourself begins to flow through you, the grip of your limiting beliefs begins to release. As your compassion for yourself flows more and more, those limiting beliefs will have less and less hold on you.
This is because your perception will be shifting. You will be able to understand why you came to the limiting conclusions that you did. Then you will be able to have more compassion for yourself. And then you will be able to forgive yourself and others for those limiting beliefs.
Know that you are the only person who has the power to forgive, to let go of, the limiting beliefs that have been living inside of you. It is important for you to identify the truth of who you are so that you know deep within yourself that these “shoulds,” limiting beliefs and rules are not based on the truth of who you are and what you are here to do. Another person can’t do this for you. Someone can say whatever he or she wants to you, but until you can see a possibility beyond the limiting beliefs, there will be no forgiveness and thus there will be no freedom for you.