The Gift of Self-Acceptance

I have a friend who cannot seem to stop blaming herself and feeling shame for behavior she has corrected and no longer participates in.   Her shame and guilt act as an ongoing impediment to her making any kind of meaningful progress in her life because she forever doubts her worth as a human being.   And what’s worse, she expends so much energy trying to hide the knowledge of her former behavior from others that she’s grown comfortable living a lie.

Which got me to thinking about the futility and sheer exhaustion of carrying around unnecessary baggage rather than proudly wearing the lessons and benefits of life’s experiences.

When I was 24 years old I tried to commit suicide.  I speak annually to high schools on depression and suicide and also often include reference to the attempt in my many inspirational speaking engagements which cover a variety of topics.  I am never ashamed to mention the attempt because growing past the circumstances and insecurities that led me to try is one of the greatest lessons of my life.  Rather than see the attempt as something for which I should be ashamed, I see it as a triumphal turning point in my own life and an experience that may help save others from such pain.

However, life experiences can only be instructive and helpful if shared.

I believe that we are all here to be a light unto one another.  It serves no one to hide your light.   And if you’ll allow me to expand the metaphor out a bit … it’s through acquiring experience, of every kind, that we get “brighter.”

I wish I could convince my friend that she needn’t cower or hide from the truth of her experiences.  I wish I could gift to her the forgiveness I feel having given my own unconscious behaviors over to God.  But it is right that we each get to a place of awareness and peace within ourselves in our own time.  I can at least take comfort in the fact that we all, do in fact, ultimately get there.

In the meantime, while I cannot help her carry her baggage… I do routinely remind her that when she is ready, she can simply put it down.


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