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RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.
Tool 5c. FORGIVING Ourselves as ADULTS (cont.)
SELF-FORGIVENESS is letting go of guilt & shame, which takes persistent time & effort, and in never complete. Letting go means accepting that we can’t change our past, but can learn from it.
At its heart, Acceptance is seeing everything as it really is, no matter how unpleasant, rather than what we want it to be. Acceptance eliminates illusions & CDs, & so makes letting go possible.
++ Accept that we are wounded – not defective. Letting go means stopping the cruel inner rant – a choice we can implement every day. Given the very hard times we’ve been thru, it means that we need to be extra kind to ourselves. (Purpose of healthy parental mirroring – when they’re kinder to everyone but their own children)
++Accept Al-Anon’s 3 As: “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it.” We can then let go of self-recrimination for anything, because it’s not the same as taking responsibility (scroll down) – which is acknowledging something about ourselves without adding “…..and therefore I’m bad.” Now we can correct distorted thinking, & stop blaming or attacking ourselves for what may or may not be inadequacies & deficiencies
++ Accept our human limitations, which will allow us to let go of judging ourselves so harshly —
• for having depression & the need for medication
• for not knowing things everyone else seems to be ‘in on’
• for not being perfect // not knowing everything // making mistakes
• for being so scared inside // being controlling // nit-picking
• for procrastinating or never finishing anything…. all opposites of RIGHTS list
++ Accept that every child is programmed to follow their upbringing. If it was alcoholic, dangerous, neglectful…. we drowned in too many rigid, harmful laws – or were completely left to our own devices. Now we can slowly form a new set of rules, loving & flexible – which will eliminate much of the need for fake niceness, so we’re free to be genuinely kind (“ACoAs – Healthy Rules“)
++ Accept that along the way we’ll have to deal with the guilt that churns in our gut whenever we disobey any Toxic Family Rule, but it doesn’t last.
This is ‘good guilt’ because it signals that we’re doing something healthy for ourselves, by going against all our crazy training.
LETTING GO means:
• facing & dealing with our anger at our family, as well as all of our other T.E.As.
• releasing any & all accusations or blame of God / the Divine for painful experiences caused by humans
• being kind to ourselves, no matter what, & staying present for whatever Es come up
• accepting all our emotions, without reservation or judgment
• remembering, without S-H, painful & embarrassing situations we put ourselves in because of our anxiety, FoA & dissociation (out-to-lunchness)
• forgiving the things we didn’t do, which caused us or others harm.
EXP: In her 20’s Jenny had a little grey cat she loved a lot. As Greyling was getting older, he was getting thinner, but Jenny was too busy studying & writing papers for her college classes to pay much attention.
• One night Greyling flopped over on the bed, not able to stand. Jenny was worried, but just thought he was old. The next day she saw he was very weak – not moving, not eating – so she finally took him to the vet. The vet took one look at the little cat & turned angrily to Jenny.”You let this cat deteriorate to the point that he’s so dehydrated he had a stroke! There’s nothing I can do – he needs to be put down”.
• Jenny was devastated at the loss, & deeply ashamed of her neglect. She had caused this sweet creature severe suffering because of her obliviousness. Working it thru in therapy & ACoA meetings, she understood that ignoring the signs of illness in Greyling came from her grammar school time. She spent many years seeing her father in terrible pain from a long illness, often lying in a dark room but never complaining, while mother kept telling her to be very quiet & not bother him.
Jenny loved her dad & hurt deeply for him, but was totally helpless. To protect against her overwhelming frustration & powerlessness, she became numb to physical suffering.
• Accepting the connection between past & present, & continued to grieve Greyling, Jenny sincerely forgave herself for her inaction, without S-H, knowing where it came from. Even years later she sometimes feels sad for her dad & the cat, but has made sure to not make that mistake again.
NEXT: BEING Forgiven (#4e)