Over the past few years, numerous teachings about unconditional love and acceptance have come to our attention. Many of us have begun to realize the importance of being nonjudgmental and accepting people the way they are. Individually, we may not have attained the reality of this practice in our moment-to-moment existence -- however, we are aware of it, and have set unconditional acceptance as an attainable goal.
Ideally, we all want to be in a constant state of total unconditional acceptance. However, in your zeal to become 'unconditional' have you overlooked yourself? Have you been able to stop judging and accept the inconsistencies that occasionally cause you to fall short of the mark?
Not Spiritual Enough?
When we embark on the 'spiritual' path, we begin judging ourselves (and sometimes others) as 'not being spiritual enough'. In the past, some people whipped themselves physically when they judged themselves to have sinned. In this modern day and age, we, at times, chose instead to whip ourselves mentally and emotionally.
How many of us have internal beliefs that sound like this: "I'm so stupid. I can never do anything right. I'm selfish. I don't deserve..." (cancel, cancel). Some of us were raised with an internal belief of being a sinner. We were told that we were born sinners.
With programs like this running the show within, no wonder we are harsh on ourselves. We get 'down' on ourselves for still not "getting it right". We strive to be unconditionally accepting, and when we aren't, we berate ourselves for our behavior. When we don't attain our goals, we judge ourselves as no good, or at least not good enough.
It is time to fire our self-appointed judge and jury.
It's Time to Forgive Ourselves
We must begin to forgive ourselves for believing we were bad and then stop acting as if we are fallen angels. We need to realize that we are only 'fallen' when we choose to believe that we are. If we realize that we are truly good, and live according to that belief, things will come into place. We are emerging from a time of believing ourselves to be Sinners to knowing we are Winners when we live according to our inner truth and light.
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More understanding and patience toward ourselves is a must. Unconditional love and acceptance need to reside within us and for us. However, as with any new skill, it takes time to make this change an automatic part of our lives. For instance, when you began to ride a bike, you probably fell a few times before achieving the right balance; when you learned to ski, you didn't slalom down the hill at high speeds the first few times, etc. It is the same with learning to release behaviors from our insecure and guilt-ridden past.
Having Compassion for Our Mistakes
It is essential to realize that we are like children learning something new, and we need to have compassion for our mistakes. I feel that if we were 'perfect', in other words, if we had learned all that this 'school of life' has to teach us then we would not be here. By the very fact of our existence on this topsy-turvy planet, we know that we still have not graduated... we still have some things to learn.
Remember being in grade school? Does a child in grade 3 criticize himself for not knowing everything that a grade 10 student knows? Children may wish they had that advanced knowledge, but know it is not their 'fault' for not yet being at that level.
So it is with life. If you are still in grade 3 in the school of life (or grade 6 or 10), be compassionate with yourself. You still have a ways to go. Do the best you can with the knowledge you now have, and forgive yourself when you don't pass the daily tests. Simply make a conscious decision to strive to do better next time and let go of the guilt-ridden thoughts, need for punishment, and self-criticism.
Being a Student of Life, Love, & Inner Peace
You are a student of life, love, and inner peace. As a student, you are expected to make 'mistakes' and to strive to correct them. Guilt, self-afflicted judgment and punishments are not required of you. Let that stuff go! They can only hamper you in your movement forward into the light of total love and acceptance.
Blessed be the children that we truly are!
A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
by Jack Kornfield.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com