The Secret Formula for Forgiving Yourself

Secret FormulaThe Secret Formula for Forgiving Yourself

In my previous blog, I focused on how to come to a place of self-acceptance and self-love. The secret to that was loving what was being mirrored for you by, in that particular instance, the ‘crazies’ out there creating mayhem around the world.

In this one, I want to shift the focus to the other aspect of Radical Self-Empowerment: Radical Self-Forgiveness.

Everyone agrees that forgiving oneself is much more difficult than forgiving others. We all need help with it. However, the good news is there is a formula that really works, and that’s what I want to share with you today. You will have the means to do it immediately.

The emotion that drives our need to beat up on ourselves for what we are ashamed of having done or are doing, or didn’t do that we should have done, is guilt. The more guilty we feel, the less able we are to forgive ourselves.

That, of course, assumes we are able to feel guilt. Sociopaths have little ability to feel this emotion, so they have no ability to make good decisions based on an anticipation of appropriate guilt. Then there are those at the other end of the scale who are chronically afflicted with it and feel guilty about everything and anything, even when it has nothing to do with them.

I doubt whether what I have to say will help either of those. Those I will leave to the psychologists and psychiatrists.

I work with people who have a fairly normal guilt threshold, a reasonably developed conscience, a basic level of ability to make decisions after using the right amount of anticipatory guilt, who would understand the difference between appropriate guilt and inappropriate guilt, and so on.

In other words, perfectly normal, neurotic people, like you and me.

I also deal with perfectionists who are stricken with guilt because everything they do is not as perfect as it should be. They are easy to work with if not exactly easy to cure the habit. I can, however, neutralize the cause of it. Then there are those who tend to worry about what others might think, even when doing what is right for them. That’s not so much a question of guilt as it is shame. Low self-regard. For them Radical Self-Acceptance becomes the remedy.

Clearly guilt and shame are closely related. Guilt comes from my actions or behavior. But if what I did make me feel ashamed of who I am, then shame is added to the guilt. Shame is related to who I am as a person. I did something wrong; therefore, I am a bad person.

So why is Self-Forgiveness so difficult? With forgiveness of others, we have a forgiver and a forgiven. With self-forgiveness, we are both at the same time. I am asking myself to forgive myself. Judge, jury and witness all in the same case and all inside my own head.

The other thing is the ‘self’ we are appealing to is not just one single self. It is a whole community of selves all of them contradicting one another. When it comes to handing out forgiveness favors, the big honcho, who will step up to the bar to handle your plea, will always be the Inner Judge, aided and abetted by the Critical Parent. Guess what they are always going to say. NO, of course.

What this means is you are doing battle with your own Ego. The ego is the master of guilt. It exists for and feeds upon that energy, so the more guilt you have, the better. Guilt is like nectar to your ego. No wonder then that the answer is “No.”

So here’s the answer to that conundrum. It’s my secret formula for self forgiveness, if you like, except it’s not so secret really since it is in my Radical Self Forgiveness book, but you may not have a copy on your bookshelf.

In my upcoming Radical Self-Forgiveness workshop, we go into depth on how to apply the formula in any situation where guilt is experienced, but here’s the main principle.

Don’t bother asking your ‘human self’ (ego) for forgiveness by going into your mind with it. Ask your Higher Self instead. This is the self that is still connected to the divine and knows who you are and why you are here in human form. It knows there are no mistakes and that you are perfect the way you are. So it will always say “Yes.” It will always forgive you, no matter what.

The question then remains. How do we do that? The answer is Radical Self-Forgiveness. By using the tools associated with the Radical Self-forgiveness method, we bypass the mind automatically and go straight to the Higher Self. However, we have learned over the years that if you try to do it without using the tools, it doesn’t work. The mind interferes.

Once we recognize that what we see and criticize in others is simply a reflection of what we can’t stand in ourselves, it becomes clear that we are being given an opportunity to heal the split within ourselves. By taking back all our projections and loving the parts of us we had previously hated, we expand into Love for ourselves and return ourselves to wholeness. We also expand our Love and gratitude for those who ‘volunteered’ to show up and mirror our shadow for us. Bear in mind, too that this phenomenon works with groups in exactly the same way as with individuals. It even works with countries. As we saw in Chapter 11, it was highly likely that America went to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein resonated a huge amount of self-hatred and shame that was in America’s shadow, and he represented the perfect person and country on whom to project it.

Make a list of two people you have disliked and then list each and every quality you saw in them that you found unacceptable. Dig deep and be honest with yourself. Don’t censor your list, even if you think you might be being unfair. Just tune into your own feelings of disapproval in regard to what you see.

      Person 1.                          Person 2.

 _______________        _______________

Now here’s the bit you’re not going to like. Transfer each item on those two lists to the following worksheet.


The qualities, I am now seeing, were being mirrored back to me by those people I found myself judging and am willing to now love and accept as part of me, are:

That sucks, doesn’t it! Nevertheless, it is important to list every quality you saw in the two people and didn’t like, even if some of them feel totally unlike you and, at first sight, you feel unable to own them. They may be highly symbolic of something in your shadow that is hard to identify, or be representative of some other quality that your subconscious mind links to the one listed, but several times removed.

The good news is that you don’t have to know what these qualities symbolize or represent. It is simply a matter of accepting the principle, “If You Spot It, You Got It.” In other words, if you see it in someone else and it upsets you, then it’s yours. There are no exceptions to this rule.

The more what you see ‘out there’ upsets you, the more vital it is that you love and accept it within you. Resist the temptation to continue judging those qualities as ‘bad’ and criticizing yourself for having them. Doing that simply strengthens the shadow and increases your inner-directed shame. The only way to dissolve the energy it is to love it just the way it is. Also, just as we said that in order to take the power away from core-negative beliefs, it was essential to love ourselves for having the beliefs, it is every bit as important to love ourselves for having these qualities. They are who we are, at least for now. This is simply another way to expand into Love.

Subsequent Action
While looking at the list of qualities you have recognized as being the parts of you that you had previously denied, repressed and projected onto a lot of people, read the following statements out loud, slowly and deliberately, making sure you get the full meaning of the statement.

  1. I now see that all these people have been mirroring for me the parts of myself I have made wrong and have judged, denied, repressed and projected onto them. I thank all of them for mirroring those parts of my shadow.
  2. I am now taking back the projections and am now willing to love and accept this part of me. They each are a part of who I am, and I would not be complete without them.
  3. I now realize they are not things to be overcome or gotten rid of. Neither are they obstacles standing in my way of my growth and healing. I love and accept each one just the way it is.
  4. As I become willing to love and accept these parts of me, I trust that whatever caused me to form these shadow aspects, such as lies, misperceptions or the result of being shamed, will dissolve automatically as I come to love them.  
  5. Conversely, I realize that if I continue to judge those parts of myself and resist loving them, they will grow stronger. (What you resist, persists.)
  6. If the underlying belief about one or more is actually ‘true,’ then my acceptance of it as just being who I am will allow me to transform the energy and use the positive power inherent in that part of me to good purpose. (My perfection lies in my imperfection.)
  7. Having brought my shadow aspects to the light, I realize that my Spiritual Intelligence has facilitated every one of these healing opportunities; and I honor and bless all the people on my list for being willing to be healing angels for me.

Signed: __________________________                           

Date: ______________

8 thoughts on “The Secret Formula for Forgiving Yourself

  1. Iiris Bjornberg

    Dear Colin, thanks a million for great tools, available easily for us once again! A reminder is always welcome… Much love and many blessings to you and Jo-Ann from Finland, covered with pure, white snow,

  2. Donna

    A pastor that I know has a tendency to be utilitarian and managerial with people.
    He does not relate to some of us with spontaneity and unconditional love. He will
    relate when he needs others to conform with what he needs, his ideas and his programs only. He holds back love and tends to be judgmental of others. I wish that he would be more genuinely interested in others for who they are and take an interest in what makes people feel encouraged and loved for themselves.
    Now, given your technique of “you spot it; you got it,” it seems that I have a part of myself that at times holds back love and cannot love some people for who they are. Yes, I acknowledge that and accept that. However, my general characteristic is to be
    outgoing with people and very interested in who others are; that is why I relate well with young people; young people know that I genuinely care about them and ask them how they are, what they are interested in etc.
    Yet, this guy really irks me and I don’t feel that I am like him. It must be more than your theory and possibly that he represents a father or parent figure (as a pastor); the reason he irks me is my unconscious transference (when around him) to how I felt many times when growing up: unloved and not given enough relating or interacting that was concerned with how I felt and empowering me….. What do you think?

    1. Louis

      Hi, Donna. I think that you deserve a lot of love right now! This instant. There is a mountain of inner exploration waiting for you and the journey is well worth it. You already seen to have a significant understanding of your own psyche.

      But that journey is secondary. The first thing is to release judgment of your pastor. What I have learned is that releasing judgment does not mean approving of their actions. It just means that the actions are in the world of illusion and need to stay there!

      If a criminal robs a bank, that is in the world of illusion. And in that same world, they need to be arrested and brought to justice. But that entire situation can be done with love… The problem comes in when the criminal/pastor is being judged as bad/evil/unspiritual for it. Then, we get drawn into harmful fantasy and our suffering continues. Would you agree?

      1. Donna

        Yes, I agree. Since I cannot love him, he is always
        irking me. If I can forgive and not feel irked, then
        he is likely to feel a different vibration from me and
        not have fuel for his illusion….
        Thank you for caring and responding, Louis!

  3. Donna

    Oh, my…I think I just “got it!”
    By writing that out, as Colin recommends, it became clear to me that much
    of what I wrote contained “resistance” to owning the deeper issue underlying this
    experience. I experience this pastor as judging me (more than that he is not
    outgoing or interactive.) I harbor(repress) my own judgment inside that I
    cannot accept and love me as I am. I still judge myself and feel shame inside,
    for my failures and imperfections, even though I try to pretend to myself that
    this isn’t so….and how I just need to get away from “this guy,” instead of my own
    Writing things on paper certainly helps to see things better… and to see the
    veils and resistances that exist like little white lies or tricks of the mind….
    Hmmmm….thank you.

  4. Peggy

    Dear Colin, Dear visitor of this blog-page,

    I am struggling with the meaning “but several times removed” in below sentence:
    “They may be highly symbolic of something in your shadow that is hard to identify, or be representative of some other quality that your subconscious mind links to the one listed, but several times removed.” as found in worksheet above.
    As non-native speaker I am not sure, how important this part is, to fully grasp all the details of this, or if it changes the spirit of the text, if I would ignore this clause.

    Thank you in advance for your support.

      1. Peggy

        Thank you, Donna,
        I have thought so, but wasn’t sure.
        Seems, that my “gut-understanding” of this topic is deeper, than my ability to express the meaning in my own words or to translate the phrase.

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