18 March 2011 5 Comments

Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 8: Self-Forgiveness & Inner Wounds, Part 1

Forgiving ourselves opens the heart, softens us to love, relaxes our bodies, allows us to ease into greater wisdom, tolerance, and emotional maturity.

What do we need to forgive ourselves FOR?

P1040378When I arrived at the retreat (described earlier in this post series) I would not have placed the need to forgive myself at the top of my Inner Work to-do list. My self-talk is almost consistently constructive. As the retreat process unfolded I began to sense directly how critical I tend to be of myself. Unlike my earlier years, this criticism no longer comes up in the form of self-recriminations, beating myself up with words, or self-punishment.

New archeological layers pop up when we are ready for the next-deeper step in the spiral dance of healing. My new layer disclosed itself through observing: Subtle hitches in breath, twinges of tension, whether or not I chose eye contact, who I dared hug, which people I tended to avoid, my excuses for avoiding them. I noticed that I expect myself to be unequivocally loving to all people at all times—and absolutely authentic at the same time.

When I judge, withdraw, flinch from feeling someone’s imbalanced energy or psychic debris, or decline contact when someone wants my attention I feel somehow remiss or insufficient. This was not close to the first time I noticed these patterns. It was one of the first times I SAT with it–literally as well as figuratively–with full feeling and no diversions. For days. The silence and Zen sitting interspersed with heart-opening practices was powerful.

Some of this discussion gets tough as we dive into issues central to forgiveness. Please bear with me. Even if you do not feel it applies to you, it may help you understand loved ones.

Our Inner Wounds
Forgiveness takes on a whole new depth and dimension when we can apply it directly to our inner wounds.If we turn away from our wounds we cannot bring in the balm of forgiveness to the places inside where we most need it. Why is it that so many of us seem to need forgiveness for having been hurt?

  • we generally have some responsibility in the choices that led to being hurt
  • we may not have done everything in our power to heal our wounds
  • wounds cause us to act in ways we would rather not act
  • we may feel shame about being unable to change these behaviors

The ability to NOTICE your wounds and how they impact your behavior takes courage, insight, and love.

When we fully accept them wounds are like old friends. Why friends? Our wounds show us where and how we need to heal. They invite us to be fully intimate and accepting toward ourselves, like only a dearest friend can do. Wounds have their own eloquent language. They speak of soul purpose. It is by following them into our core and melting them with love that we gain the precious prize of self knowledge, awakening.


Olive Branch at Retreat

Wounds almost always have to do with separation: Separation from self (abandoning ourselves or dissociating), separation from Self (remaining in ignorance), separation from family through estrangement, separation from loved ones owing to our issues, separation from special people we lack the courage to love, separation from community, separation from the Divine.

Most of us find it easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves.

In Part 9 we explore why it can be so hard to forgive ourselves.

Where did YOUR inner wounds originate?
What do you gain from through them?

Be Sociable, Share!

5 Responses to “Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 8: Self-Forgiveness & Inner Wounds, Part 1”

  1. Leah 18 March 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I was/am so excited to have this series start because I have been struggling to work on this ‘forgiveness thing’ and I KNOW there is something there. I am stuck in that I just don’t know what forgiveness FEELS like. And the interesting part is the block or whatever it is, feels like it is right in front of me, but I just can’t see it. I think it is like the old saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees”.

    I am excited for this about forgiving yourself because I think this is really key..

    Thank you, T, for being the honest and this open to help us continue with our own journeys..

    • Teresa Dietze 19 March 2011 at 2:53 pm #

      Dear Leah,

      I know what you mean. We live inside our experience and especially when pain and defense is all mixed up with what we are able to feel it’s difficult to get a direct experience of something different, along with all the attendant sensations, energies, postures, breath patterns, and emotions. This is why my experience in the Sufi group was so powerful; being able to resonate right along with and thereby FEEL the sensations and energies, directly and with sufficient intensity to provide a powerful catalyst. I aimed to saturate the words in my posts with those frequencies, and to address the issues that block the experience of forgiveness.

      Keep melting the pain and defense by sinking in farther and deeper to what rests beneath it. As you find the ground of your Being you will keep on opening up like the you truly are.

      Thanks for the encouragement. It really helps motivate me to post.


  2. Greg 20 March 2011 at 9:32 am #

    I believe some of my inner wounds originated with my parents and some past lives or ancestral lineage.

    What I gained from them was holding myself in a position to be right about what happened and not moving forward in my life. Staying the same, no growth or change. I have had a challenge in dealing with the past life forgiveness of wounds. I may need to confront that soon to start a process that is long over due, along with a healing that is long over due.

    Thank you

    • Teresa Dietze 20 March 2011 at 10:43 am #

      Hi Greg,

      Yes it gets interesting when we begin inner archeology, digging into the layers of Self to discover what has been buried through the course of time.

      Your comment about “being right about what happened and not moving forward in my life” is really powerful and on point. It’s amazing, actually, that getting to cling to an interpretation about something in the past has such profound power over us to the extent of blocking life itself. This is ironic when we stop ourselves from what we want so much more than we want what we hold on to.

      One thing that helps me to move through ancient “stuff” and release interpretations is to consider past life type issues in a context that includes the lives before and after the ones that contain stuck emotions and interpretations.

      Easiest way to describe is in reference to gender issues (although this technique works for a whole range of issues.): If one has an issue with women/men, for example, considering that half of his or her lifetimes are spent embodying the opposite gender. Allowing one’s self to identify with and relate to being stuck in and acting out the patterns of the gender one has trouble with, and knowing one has and will spend roughly half of one’s series of lives on that end of the stick antidotes a position of judging one side. This brings more compassion to both sides of the experience.

      In the same way, we can focus on the experience and the drama that occurs in the lifetime before and after the one with stuck energy, paying attention to the experience of the other parties involved as well. The ongoing link forms a partnership of sorts for unfolding and realizing Self through the human dramas.

      This way of viewing expands perspective, increases compassion, provides a greater sense of possibility, and tends to loosen up the knots that make forgiveness so challenging.

      Let me know what you think–especially if you try this in your meditations.


  3. Greg 21 March 2011 at 7:40 am #


    I will give it a try. Thank you for sharing your experience in this area. You are great!


Leave a Reply