1 April 2011 6 Comments

Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 10: Self-Forgiveness & Inner Wounds, Part 3

If you have to stretch to relate to this post or have trouble staying present in your body while you read it, be sure to stick through the series. Hidden issues can make this topic tough. Although my words are spare and direct, I wrote this post with the utmost love, thinking of some brilliant, warm, profound people who have needed support to deal with Inner Wounds. The insights in these posts have made a difference in many lives:

The urge to defend is generally driven by internal self-criticism. Like conscience, forgP1040451iveness entails sensing inwardly. Tracing sensitive feelings is incompatible with defensive behaviors. Defense shuts down feeling. Unwinding these patterns requires vulnerability.

Defense divides us into the parts that are sensitive and the parts that are aggressive, blocking effective introspection. For this reason criticizing ourselves makes it almost impossible to change our behaviors.

These formulations of feeling arose for a client who has the guts to clearly observe how her inner patterns are structured (shared with permission): “When bad things happen I’m not good enough,” and “When bad things happen I deserve it.” A child next door was making a lot of noise, for example. She took this to mean, “I deserve to suffer.” Self-berating followed almost every discomfort. She was “supposed to be good enough” that nothing painful occurred. Of course she was raised by parents who hurt her if she expressed pain.

This woman is a competent professional. It took real Inner Work to learn to observe and give voice to these patterns instead of living on the surface, and going through life asleep to yet acting out their unconscious messages.

Self-blame originates as a defense. It can be an attempt to be flawless to avoid abuse, win approval, earn love, and so forth. Love is to be given freely, not earned with perfect behavior. When we are very young and have inconsistent or violent parents, how simple it is to believe we are flawed and worthy of blame. Feeling responsible is a way to have at least the illusion of some control, or a feeling that the crazy world has some rhyme or reason.

I have seen quite a few people call themselves stupid for not knowing something that they could not possibly have known in advance. This is an internal verbal attack, so it increases defensiveness, blocks creativity, and retards healing.

Calling one’s self “stupid” for not knowing something before having the EXPERIENCE by which we LEARN it mimics the experience of an abused child. We are not “supposed” to be omniscient. Life is to learn. We are not “supposed” to be perfect, all on our own and in our egos. Imagining that we can is actually an arrogant fantasy, if you think about it. It’s way too much work and feels cramped. Kindness is infinitely more spacious.

Accepting wounds gives us humility.

Olive Branch

Olive Branch

We are not stupid, wrong, bad, or flawed, for having wounds. Wounds are doorways into our own humanity. They are vehicles through which we learn. Wounds enable us to see the humanity of others, as we embrace our own. Wounds are also a medium by which many develop intuitive skills and learn to read energy. They spur us on spiritually—if we are willing to dignify our pain by accepting it as a part of life. Accepting does not mean you invite more. It means being present to what is real instead of living in pretense.

Create something beautiful with what you have already, starting where you are NOW.

Remember, our wounds originate with separation. We must separate ourselves from others to abuse them. When we are One, hurting others hurts. Of course, we always ARE One, we just forget.

Pain embraced develops compassion. Pain rejected creates masks.

What do YOU notice about your own patterns of defensiveness?
Are you able to trace back into the more-vulnerable emotions underneath?
What happens when you do?

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6 Responses to “Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 10: Self-Forgiveness & Inner Wounds, Part 3”

  1. Therese 1 April 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I use to teach college level computer classes. I taught at a local technical college. The thing that struck me most was how often the students beat up on themselves for not knowing how to work a computer when they’d never turned one on in their lives. I found my most important job, as a teacher, was to create a safe environment for making mistakes. One of my favorite sayings was, “If you never make a mistake, you never learn anything. If you never learn anything, you might as well be dead.” Every student who heard me say these words would stop, think, and begin to see a new way of thinking. It allowed for learning instead of self-condemnation.

    It is very hard for us to be kind to ourselves. It is not something our society supports. Earlier in this series, I saw how I still beat up on myself. Thank you! I have quit beating up on myself and I am loving the new, loving me. When I find that negativity creeping in, I stop and rewind the internal talk and look at why I’m doing the negativity, how it limits me, and how it separates me from myself and, therefore, others.

    I appreciate the work you do! Please continute to offer us insight into yourself (ourselves).

    • Teresa Dietze 1 April 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      Therese what a beautiful story. It perfectly exemplifies the trend of this pattern, in groups as well as individuals. Your students were lucky to have your influence. Words take on meaning when presented in actual circumstances, when feelings are active and the concept shows a way to real relief.

      Yes, societal focus on competition lends itself to harsh comparisons with others. This leads to feeling inadequate and being hard on ourselves.

      Each small awareness of our internal workings is an important victory, especially when we respond to it with constructive action and compassion, as you are.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement. This work is so much easier with feedback and response.

  2. Greg 4 April 2011 at 8:37 am #

    My own defensiveness totally separates me from my connection with the other person and emotion that is going on at the time. I have no vision or feeling for what is going on with myself and the other person. Until the enrgy dissipates around the issue. I will not be able to connect with the other person and the issue to see the truth about the situation. Only then can I see what is going on, it may be hours and sometimes days unfortunetly before I can see the reality. To forgive myself and the other person.

    It is interesting how the wounds of seperation can be passed from one generation to another. To be handled by the child in the next generaion if they’re up to the task. Letting go of the karmic and energetic lineage of wounds is a huge challenge.

    Thank you

    • Teresa Dietze 4 April 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Greg.

      That’s a courageous response. Our defensiveness always separates us from others. It’s great that you stay with your process and allow your perception to change as you calm down. This good self-observation skill will make it possible for you to get faster at that over time, if you care to. Still, it can take time, and it’s important to keep compassion for ourselves present. As soon as we make ourselves wrong for not forgiving faster we perpetuate the root of our tendency to react.

      I agree. It is fascinating the way wounds get passed along. Think of the way abuse echos through generations. Integrity can too. For me at least, when I feel weak with respect to doing my Inner Work, it is a comfort and an inspiration that the work I do serves others too. When I can’t do it for me I can do it for others. And when I can’t do it for others, I can do it for me. Different orientations according to what’s going on inside.

      Best All-Ways,


  3. Leah 10 April 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    I had posted earlier that I did not know what forgiveness looked like, or felt like and I was scared of what I would be with out my anger and my rage. That somehow my intesity would lessen. Funny as T is one of the most intese people I know. 🙂

    So I started wondering about forgiveness, and what I needed to forgive within myself. Looking at that question was harder than I thought, but it is an interesting one. I realized part of it was forgiving myself for not protecting myself from a very critical (and incidently broken) mother. Could not have done anything about it, but still need to forgive myself for not stopping her. For not being able to protect myself or my brothers. Huh. Interesting..

    Thank you T, as always giving us insight to ourselves and clarity

    • Teresa Dietze 10 April 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      Hi Leah,

      Good. Your inner detective is getting engaged with the project.

      You were just a little thing, doing the best you could at something you shouldn’t have had to do at all. Be very kind to her, and let her know you will never abandon her again. Or that if you do, you will get better and better at being called back to nourish her.

      Your passion/AKA “intensity” is one of the things that makes you wonderful. Intense people can be vital, interesting and very alive. Think how many people love Altoids more than mild mints, strong coffee, or chocolate over vanilla. There are plenty of people who love intensity.

      Keep up the good work!


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