One of the things I’ve noticed in my own life, and my clients and students notice in theirs is that sometimes you do your forgiveness, but something lingers, there’s something you can’t quite let go of. And very often this is the shadow giving you a clue that there’s more to do.
The Shadow appears in both Jungian and Freudian psychology, although they define them in different ways, but to be honest, many traditions have something very similar. The way I’m talking about The Shadow is the collection of qualities, beliefs, behaviours which you don’t see as you. The things which, when you see someone else do them you say ‘I would never do THAT’ (with a sense of outrage, disapproval, judgement, horror or whatever).
Here’s an example. For years I did clinical depression. I’m over it, and I happily (no irony intended) talk publicly about it. It made who I am today. So, when someone said recently that they thought I hadn’t forgiven myself for my depression, I was really, really surprised. ‘Eh?’, thought I. ‘Where did that come from?” I didn’t feel a charge, and I wasn’t upset or anything, so I concluded it was her stuff. But 2 days later I was still asking myself why, and going over all the reasons why I know I have forgiven myself for the depression. That’s a clue that there is something still there, something I need to let go of. Because if I truly had let go of all my old emotions about clinical depression, I wouldn’t still be doing the obsessive ‘why, how, what on earth’ on the subject.
What I realised after my bit of obsessing was that I had certainly let go of the shame I used to have about being depressed, but I hadn’t totally forgiven myself for letting myself get into that state in the first place. You know, that feeling of ‘how could an intelligent/kind/fill-in-the-blanks-about-what-a-wonderful-human-being-I-am person like me ever let herself get into that state in the first place?’!
Another layer of the onion successfully peeled and forgiven.
If you want help with forgiving yourself, or someone else, please get in touch.