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Guilt and shame can keep us tethered to our past, limiting us from the life we were meant to live.
We are meant to live a life of joy, peace, love, fulfilment, and empowerment. There is nothing empowering about sinking into the rabbit hole that guilt and shame can bring us into. Instead, we can use the past to learn from, heal from, and move on.
We can use the past to empower us to move forward with the lessons learned, the perspective gained, and a deep love of ourselves for having made it through to live another day.
Here are three tips to release any guilt and shame that you have been holding on to:
An all-time favorite prayer, and while its name might seem “difficult,” the prayer is as simple as they come. Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian form of healing that gained popularity through Dr. Len in the late 1960s. He used it to heal people who were thought of to be un-healable in a mental psychiatric ward. It is the first tool I offer to my clients and this prayer always begins with you.
It is four sentences:
“I love you.”
“I am sorry.”
“Please forgive me.”
You can look at it as the more human or brain-oriented part of you saying this to your soul.
At soul level you know that anything you have experienced has been part of your life path and there is no judgment. At soul level there is a part of you which is truly unconditional love. It is your brain that gets caught up in this negative groove and pattern and likes to replay the same message.
Say this prayer in the shower, say it while driving, say it before bed, and then again in the morning. Say it any time you feel yourself sinking into a funk.
You will feel a quick shift and perhaps some tears and release as well.
If there is someone you are feeling this shame and guilt around, say this prayer for them too, and for the situation as a whole. Decide you are moving beyond the 3D version of what happened and are embracing the bigger picture. It is in the past, you have more than likely made yourself suffer because of it, and you are ready to move on.
I saw this work tremendously well in my own life when I had a real difficulty with someone I was doing business with. He was showing up unprepared, smelling like booze (literally coming from his skin), and derailing progress in our project. I knew if he smelled like booze at 8 a.m. life probably was not going well for him. I was able to put aside my “story of him being wrong” and say Ho’oponopono for him. The next meeting he showed up sober and alert for the first time, and soon after this he was transferred to another project. I was able to see him in love instead of feeling shame for him and the guilt of our project—and I do feel he felt that love.
2) Light a small fire (or candle).
Please keep this safe. A candle will do but if you can be outside, even better! There are two ways to do this: one with small sticks, the other with paper.
Gather some small twigs. Take those sticks (these are like tiny twigs the size of a pencil but thinner). Blow the issue you are feeling into the stick. For example: “I have felt guilty about this…” Declare to yourself you are ready to release it and put it into the fire. As you watch it burn feel the release of this being taken away from you.
Alternatively, you can use small pieces of paper. Write a few words about the moment of shame or guilt on the piece of paper. As you put the piece of paper into the fire declare that you are ready to release this and move past it. Watch as the paper burns and feel that release.
Thank the fire for removing these energies from you. Place your hands on your heart. Thank yourself for being willing to let go of these limiting emotions and to move on.
I do this on my back deck and have a stack of little twigs in a basket. It never ceases to amaze me how much freer I feel after lighting these twigs on fire. Firstly I am naming what is causing me this pain which is powerful in itself. Next, by burning these sticks and setting intention I am giving myself permission to let that stuff go!
3) With affirmations, breath, and love.
Put your hands on your heart and do some box breathing—this is the breathing technique Navy Seals are taught!
Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, and hold for four. Repeat at least three times, or until you feel centered and a little more relaxed.
Keeping your hands on your heart, bring to mind someone in your life whom you have felt love from. It may be a pet, a loved one who has passed, or someone currently in your life. Breathe that love in and feel that connection and love in your heart as if they are with you. Allow yourself to stay here for at least a minute. Now, gently bring to mind the moment that you have been replaying where you felt guilt or shame. Know that this loved one would never judge you or love you less for anything you have done. Allow yourself to feel that love again. Please ask yourself to release this feeling of guilt or shame, keeping whatever wisdom came from it, but with the knowledge that you have suffered and held this long enough. Return to some more box breathing as you consciously ask yourself to feel this release. Thank yourself for this time, for feeling that love, and for allowing this release.
When I do this exercise, I bring my mom into my mind and heart. We used to speak at least once a day, usually more. She was my best friend, my example of unconditional love, and when she passed in May 2020 I truly did not know how I could go on without her. Doing this exercise brings me close to her and the unconditional love and forgiveness she represented for me. I can feel her loving energy thinking, “that’s nothing Jen, no worries—let that stuff go.” And suddenly I do feel lighter and like I do deserve to let it go, and it sure won’t do me any good holding on to it.
We deserve a life of happiness. This is challenging to achieve if we are carrying around guilt or shame. Guaranteed we are holding on to it stronger than anyone around us is.
It is time to let it go. It is time to embrace the future. It is time to love ourselves whole and receive what that is sure to bring into our life.