Why do we give ourselves such a hard time when things don’t go as we hoped or expected?
We seem to think that by giving ourselves a hard time about choices we made in the past we are somehow preventing ourselves from making bad choices in the future. When we feel out of control, our tendency is to use the past to predict the future. However, when we filter our perspective through a blaming, critical or fearful lens, we are unable to get the lesson that the experience is trying to give us.
When I was younger, my parents divorced leaving me with a fear of being abandoned. I did everything I could to keep that from happening in my life. If I found the fear starting to rise up inside, I would over-react and blame everyone else for my feelings. When that didn’t make things better, I would turn inside to berate myself about not being loveable enough for people to stick around. Then I would go back to ‘working on myself’ so I could become loveable enough, so I wasn’t abandoned anymore. I went back and forth, back and forth, between these two responses feeling out of control and never resolving the underlying issue.
When we want something to be other than it is, we look for evidence that confirms our point of view.
For example, if I diet for 3 weeks and don’t lose any weight, I need to find a way to figure out how to fix my situation so I don’t have to feel the disappointment, shame, or panic that comes from my unmet expectations. This can be difficult to do when we automatically judge ourselves or others as the source of the problem. This judgment makes someone (usually us) bad and wrong for what we did or how we did it and provides the reason why our expectations were not met. The reality is, we have been doing the best we could do with the level of awareness and understanding that we had. If we had a better way, we would have used it!
Life is always pushing us to expand and awaken if we allow ourselves to recognize and act on the messages.
The only way to move through this type of experience, and not get stuck needing to ‘justify or explain’ it, is to see ourselves as innocent. When we see ourselves as innocent, and not having a better way to respond until now, we can allow ourselves to recognize our own internal experience. Fully recognizing our feelings of disappointment, shame, or fear allows the old story that someone was at ‘fault’ for what happened to fall away. When we make what happens about us and our OK-ness or worthiness, we never find our way back to ourselves and the support inside that is always available to help us get our needs met. When we stop making what is happening about us, we can step back and mine the gold from what is happening and what the universe is trying to help us with. Life is always pushing us to expand and awaken if we allow ourselves to recognize and act on the messages.
Personally, when I let myself feel and recognize the feelings of abandonment that I was hiding from, I realized that I was the one that was abandoning myself. Not standing up for myself, saying yes out of obligation, or not saying no to what I didn’t want to experience so that others wouldn’t disconnect from me. Once I stopped abandoning myself, those situations where I felt abandoned dropped out of my life. I saw my past self as innocent in the way I responded to fearing abandonment. By allowing myself to fully recognize my experience of feeling ‘abandoned’, I realized that what others did or didn’t do had nothing to do with me. I realized that those I thought that had abandoned me, were simply focused on something else or themselves. It never had anything to do with me anyway. Only I can abandon myself when I judge myself for what I want or don’t want, or don’t stand up for my inner child.
When we remember that there is nothing to judge when things don’t go as we expect, we realize that we are not the problem and neither is anyone else.
The reality is that things often go differently than we expect, and as long as we honor what feels best to us in each choice we are faced with, we can respond from our most innocent self. Our most innocent self is the best of who we are right now, responding to what is happening in the most self-loving way we can in each moment.
How can you recognize your innocence today?