An Animist Look at Self-Forgiveness
We love questions! Keep sending them in. A follower wants to know what the animist position is on self-forgiveness.
As you know, we don’t have any dogma. There is no “official” position for anything, but I am going to run self-forgiveness through the “sovereignty – connection – oneness” filter to show you one animist way of looking at this.
Everything starts with you. If you don’t feel that you have acted outside of your values, or that you created some harm, there is no need for self-forgiveness.
If you do feel that your actions were not in keeping with your values or you harmed others, the first thing we do is to take responsibility. First of all, we have to admit what we did – at least to ourselves. We can’t move back into alignment with our truth without facing the truth. This can be extremely hard if our behavior was very hurtful or embarrassing, but the truth really does set us free.
Our bodies know the truth. Unfelt emotions live in the body and pop out as anger, anxiety, shame, guilt, or illness. These emotions need to be liberated. Speaking your truth does that. It’s amazing what words like “I’m scared; That hurts; I love you; I did this” can do for breaking free of pain. They may be very hard to say, but once they are out, all the pent up feelings can flow and energy becomes available for healing and growth.
The second step to self-forgiveness is acceptance without judgment. What happened happened. It’s over. It doesn’t make you a horrible person, but it does mean that there are consequences to your choice. Perhaps you lose a relationship, break the bond of trust, owe a financial debt, have to give up your freedom for a while, lose a job, or have to move. Whatever the consequences, accept them as part of the way that life rebalances itself.
Finally, offer yourself grace. What you send out returns to you. So offer yourself forgiveness.
All of these things are a way to express sovereignty. Your authenticity and kindness restore the balance to your true, loving self.
Self-forgiveness is actually a way to create a pathway back to wholeness. If you deny yourself forgiveness, you live in guilt and shame instead. This is a huge barrier to connection because if we don’t feel worthy of love or friendship, it shows!
When we feel guilt or shame, we may isolate. Perhaps we treat others with mistrust (because we feel they must be as untrustworthy as we are), or withhold our true selves (because we are afraid of being found out as monsters). Maybe we become controlling because we fear that if we don’t control others, they won’t like or respect us because of our shameful past. All of these things inhibit connection.
When we are right with ourselves, there are no barriers to connection. There is nothing to hide so the path to connection is clear. The consequences of our actions may mean that others don’t want to connect with us, but we are not withholding connection from them.
When we live in harmony with ourselves and connect with All-That-Is, Oneness is a byproduct. It just happens.
So do animist believe in self-forgiveness? I think, yes! I don’t know any animist who promotes self-flagellation, punishment, or suffering after doing something that’s not harmonious for all. What you do to yourself, you do to the whole, so it’s better for everyone if everyone is their best and brightest self.
I know that some feel that leaving forgiveness up to the offender is like giving the offender a pass. Maybe he’s not really sorry and his contrition is just an act. That’s a “not my circus, not my monkeys” moment. It’s not up to us to judge others, only self govern.
You can’t fake self-forgiveness. I know that we can go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to keep ourselves from facing inconvenient truths. Until we’ve really faced our offenses, there can be no self-forgiveness. So only you can say when it’s done.