What is this self inside us, this silent observer,
Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us
And urge us on to futile activity
And in the end, judge us still more severely
For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us.
T. S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman
There is a simple practice we can do to cultivate forgiveness. First we acknowledge what we feel – shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Then, in the spirit of not wallowing in the pain, we let go and make a fresh start. We don’t have to carry the burden with us anymore. We can acknowledge, forgive, and start anew. If we practice this way, little by little we’ll learn to abide with the feeling of regret for having hurt ourselves and others. We will also learn self-forgiveness. Eventually, at our own speed, we’ll even find our capacity to forgive those who have done us harm. We will discover forgiveness as a natural expression of the open heart, an expression of our basic goodness. This potential is inherent in every moment. Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.
Although it seems like a contradiction, saying no is actually an act of compassion for others, because when we do things that aren’t appropriate or we’re just too damn tired to fully participate in, they only get a piece of us — a small, crabby piece, if you are anything like me. And it shows compassion for ourselves, a reminder that we’re just as precious as everyone else and sometimes we need to be nurtured as well.
Geri Larkin, Tap Dancing in Zen
One kind word can warm three winter months
Applying attention to smaller emotions—or simply focusing on form, sound, or physical sensations—develops your capacity to look at long-term, overwhelming emotional states.
Once you begin to grow your “attentional muscles,” you can begin drawing attention to larger emotional issues. As you do so, you may find yourself directly confronting the underlying self-judgment and judgment of others as “enemies.” You may unravel the belief in being stuck, or the blind spot that inhibits your awareness of your potential. Almost certainly, you will confront the “myth of me,” the tendency to identify with your loneliness, low self-esteem, perfectionism, or isolation.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Aim of Attention
We measure ourselves against others and imagine that the measurement defines the self.
Enkyo Pat O’Hara