Open Your Heart to Your Self

Posted February 8, 2012 by Jo Crawford in Inspiration, Presence  |  38 comments

by Jo Crawford on February 8, 2012

Open Your Heart to Your Self, a practice in self-forgiveness | Crafting the Sacred

The path to self-love is one of opening your heart to your self, over and over again.

Opening your heart to your most loveable, beautiful parts.

Opening your heart to your most wounded, shadow parts.

It means facing head-on all the stories you tell yourself to hold you back from loving all of you.  It means owning up to where you believe you have betrayed yourself along the way.  It means finally forgiving yourself.

Forgive myself?

I wrestle with this constantly in my own process.  As I continue to do the work of softening into my true self, I keep running into the humbling realization that I am very attached to beating myself up and secretly believe that everything is my fault.

To forgive myself would mean a radical shift in my relationship to my self.  It means finally letting my self off the hook.  It means letting go the pressure to be perfect.  It means accepting that I have let myself down, over and over again.

To forgive myself would be the total loving acceptance of all my feelings of shame, guilt and regret.  When these feelings take over, I feel my heart closing up to my self.  My shadow self cuts me off from my heart source with a scolding “you don’t deserve it.”

This is the juicy work right here.  You know the phrase “Kill your enemies with kindness”?  Well, it applies to your inner enemies as well. Keeping your heart open to your shadow self is an opportunity for self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.

How do you do this work?

Start where you are at.  One of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, talks about this all the time with her gentle reminder that wherever you are in your process is perfect and there is no need for judgment.  When you find yourself hooked in harmful speak to your self, take a breath and begin again.

Be kind to yourself. The path of self-love is an ongoing one.  Show yourself compassion when you struggle.  There is no right or wrong way – just your way.   Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Take responsibility.  Own up to yourself and others when you mess up.  If you have harmed someone else, reach out to them and apologize so you can both move on.  Be humble.

Get creative.  Journal, make art, compose a song, dance – whatever it takes to express your feelings, do it.  Nothing gets the energy flowing and the heart opening quite like creative expression.

Accept yourself as sacred and whole.  You know you have rough patches of imperfections – that’s what makes you who you are.  Show loving kindness to all your parts and know that you are whole.

Remember that you are deserving of all the love and acceptance that you have to offer.

Keep being in the presence of your open heart.  Keep opening your heart to all of you.

How would it feel to finally forgive yourself?

 

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Goddess Anne February 8, 2012

How wonderful!!! Thank you very much for putting into words what is often in my heart!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

My pleasure Goddess Anne. May your heart be open.

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Thekla Richter February 8, 2012

This is lovely, Jo. For me one important thing to remember about self-forgiveness is that I need to forgive myself for not being perfect at doing it :) Meta-self-forgiveness!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Such an important reminder Thekla! There is no point in not forgiving yourselves for not forgiving ourselves – a vicious cycle.

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Stephanie February 8, 2012

I truly believe where ever we are is exactly where we are supposed to be. thank you for the reminder. I am also a big fan of Pema, and listen to her often. That shenpa can really get us sometimes and make us forget.

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Exactly Stephanie! The more we struggle against what is, the more we get stuck. Pema has a way of distilling this for me so eloquently.

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Ellie Di February 8, 2012

It’s definitely important to balance the drive to be whole with the gentleness we need not to break our own necks in the process. Great reminders!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

I wholeheartedly agree Ellie. Gentleness, that’s it!

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KatieP February 8, 2012

This is beautiful and so true. Only those who walk in the light have shadows. I’d rather walk in the sun and face the shadows than settle for overcast any day!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Lovely analogy Katie. I’m going to remember that when the shadow voices get loud :)

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Loran Hills February 8, 2012

Another Pema fan chiming in!

The metta practice of lovingkindness has immense benefits when practiced inward and outward.

When I named my business Loran’s Heart it was because I set the intentions to do all of the above! You wrote my mission statement, Jo.

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Wow, I would be honoured to write your mission statement, Loran :)

I have been a fan of Pema ever since When Things Fall Apart got me through a very tough cycle of depression. Sharon Salzberg’s LovingKindness is another kicker in the making friends with yourself world. Love them both for modeling true metta within.

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Gaelach February 8, 2012

What gorgeous reminders, Jo. We are our own worst critics and it’s crazy how often we beat ourselves up over little things. How can we ever expect to forgive someone else if we can’t even forgive ourselves?

Much love,
Gaelach

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Precisely my point Gaelach. If I continue to flog myself for every transgression I have little space in my heart to forgive and accept others.

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Carrie February 8, 2012

I love your tips Jo! I am currently working on seeing myself as Sacred and Whole. What I am finding is it brings a gentle compassion that was previously filled with judgment and disconnect. Beautiful words!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Disconnect…so true as when we get into self-judging, we loose ourselves. I wish you so much wholeness :)

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Robyn February 8, 2012

Forgiving is not easy for me… it’s something I work on daily. And on days like today, I work on it with every breath. Deep Breath… and “work in progress”

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Never underestimate the power of breathing! Wishing you well as you breathe through it.

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Petrea February 8, 2012

Yes so important to take responsibility, but as you say without beating yourself up. Things would shift dramatically if we all embraced our shadow sides more imagine the healing!

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Jo Crawford February 8, 2012

Wow, that is a most beautiful place of healing to imagine – let’s make it so!

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daphne February 9, 2012

beautiful post Jo. I love Pema Chodron.

I was just reading Louise Hay and she recommends starting with the affirmation “I approve of myself” and saying it over and over a minimum of 300-400 times a day. It’s a practice I’m starting because it seems like a great way to forgive oneself.

The Pleasure Nutritionist

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

That affirmation sounds like a very powerful way of opening oneself to compassion and forgiveness. Thank you so much for sharing Daphne.

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Jo Macdonald February 9, 2012

This is beautiful Jo, gave me goosebumps reading it ♥

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

Yay, I aspire to inspire goosebumps :)

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Melissa Dinwiddie February 9, 2012

This is so beautiful, Jo! Amazing how attached we are, as you say, to beating ourselves up! Looked at from that perspective it’s really ridiculous, isn’t it?

Self-forgiveness: yes. Thank you for this lovely reminder. (I also REALLY resonate with your suggestion to get creative. Although it can be especially hard to do so when we’re feeling bad about ourselves (which is a way of beating ourselves up, isn’t it?) getting creative never fails to get my energy flowing and heart opening again.)

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

Oh I’m just like you Melissa. I know that being creative unlocks the compassion and joy gateways but when I am spinning in negative self-talk I deny myself this release. I’m making a commitment to myself to remember and do and play :)

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Jacqueline Gates February 9, 2012

Jo dear, this is such a loving and warm reminder and I’m deeply grateful for it.

I too “secretly believe everything is my fault” and it takes awareness, gentleness and love to release the guilt and open myself up to acceptance.

Only then can the allowing begin.

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone on this path.

Bliss-ings,
the goddess known as Jacqui

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

Oh Jacqui, you are never alone. But when we get caught up in self-blame it’s hard to remember, right? Sending you a big hug as we work through this together.

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Carolyn Elliott February 9, 2012

Thank you for the deep reminder, Jo!

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

My pleasure, dear Carolyn.

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Tanja @ Crystal Clarity February 9, 2012

It amazes me sometimes just how much easier it is to forgive other people than it is to forgive myself.

But it’s something I work on, and I trust that one day I’ll figure it out :-)

Blessings, and thank you for a beautiful post

TANJA.

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Jo Crawford February 9, 2012

I am precisely the same Tanja. I work on holding compassion for others before myself and am trying to reprogram that as there is certainly enough compassion to go around :)

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Linnette Dooley February 11, 2012

A pivotal point in my healing happened one day when a scenario presented itself to me. In High School each of had some fear of being perceived as a geek, so we all hold the geek picture there with our resistance. One day a picture came up in my space. What if I was actually a geek! Was I going to choose to be there for myself in all my geekiness or would I abandon myself. In that moment I made the decision that no matter who I was, I was going to be there for myself. And in that instant the geek picture fell way because I released the old resistance. It may seem silly, but ever since then I have known that I am there for myself. It doesn’t mean that all the negative self talk disappears, but it was healing on a very deep level because I think our most of our negative self talk comes from thinking how we are perceived by others.

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Jo Crawford February 11, 2012

So, so true Linnette. And the irony is that most times when I’ve checked in with others, they do not hold the judging view of me that I think they do. Most times we are simply our harshest critics.

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karina February 12, 2012

Thank you for this beautiful post, Jo! It sings so true. Emracing our shadows… I try to be my own best friend because I would be so much kinder to someone else than to myself.

Love, Karina

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Jo Crawford February 14, 2012

Be your best friend – that is an excellent reminder of the intention of lovingkindness. Thank you Karina.

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Steve Rice February 27, 2012

This is good stuff, Jo.

Extending grace to ourselves–or letting ourselves “off the hook”–can be a great challenge.

I love what you said about opening up to the shadow. I call them the “dark places”. I experienced the power of this process in healing after a very difficult relationship.

After this, I created a new agreement with myself. It is this: “I will not judge you–good or bad. You did the best you knew how to do. You always do and you always will”

How freeing this agreement is.

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Jo Crawford February 29, 2012

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Steve. I too came to this work of self-forgiveness through a hard, emotionally harrowing fallout after a break-up. We both made mistakes but for years I still carried around an unreasonable amount of responsibility for it all. I finally got to a point where I could accept that I made mistakes in distress, but that I was doing the best I could in a fraught situation. As you say, this realization and acceptance was incredibly freeing. I wish you much freedom ahead!

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