Amazing grace

the special one amanda cass

The special one
Amanda Cass

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” Lao Tzu

If you are struggling with feeling ‘not being good enough’, or holding on to shame that is preventing you from accepting who you are, you are not alone. Society idolises celebrity status, bombards us with images of what we should look like, and manipulates what we should have and aspire to be. And there is an expectation to be perfect in everything and in every way.

Yet perfectionism is a myth. It’s a powerful myth that damages lives. Because when you fail to live up to those expectations, it can have devastating effects on your self-esteem. It’s natural to feel disappointed if you make a mistake or fail to do something, but if that feeling turns to shame then you could be heading down a spiral of self-destruct.

If the shame of ‘not being good enough’ has left you battling with low moods or depression, or your lack of self-worth has led to self-medicating with food, drink, drugs or prescribed medications, then you need to start challenging that myth of perfection.

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” ~ Brené Brown

My own long-term issues with depression stemmed from unresolved childhood trauma which led to a dependency on alcohol. From early childhood the experience of being rejected by my mother and abused by my father had a devastating effect on how I valued myself.

As I progressed through adulthood those feelings of ‘not being good enough’ intensified. Outwardly I wore the mask of the ‘independent, capable, confident woman’ but underneath I was lonely, confused and broken. But most of all I was ashamed of who I was.

At the lowest point of my life I was a chronically depressed alcoholic who had lost everything. By society’s standards I was a complete failure. I had nothing so I was nothing.  Except that was not strictly true, I did have something.  I was breathing and I had a speck of faith.

“T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.” ~ Amazing Grace by John Newton

I would love to say that I came to faith and an appreciation of grace through an instantaneous moment of spiritual enlightenment, but I didn’t. I came to believe through doubt and fear, and if I am totally honest because I had nowhere else to turn. Yet a speck of faith was all that was necessary to receive the gift of grace.

This is what is so wonderful about faith. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, as long as you believe and then receive. I know that receiving can be just as hard as believing if your sense of self-esteem is low, or if you feel that you have messed up too much to be forgiven. Anyone who has experienced heartbreak, loss, abuse, addiction, depression will be all too aware of how difficult it can be to start seeing themselves in a positive light.

Yet you are precious. You have value. You can be forgiven. And you owe it to yourself to receive the gift of grace and start to live your life as the person you know deep down, you can be.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Maybe taking that step of faith seems impossible, but be reassured that it is through your weaknesses that you will find your strength. Dare to expose your vulnerability and you will reveal the intense beauty of your authenticity.

Grace is the antidote to shame. Grace through faith allowed me to accept my past and move on from it. It is grace that helped open my heart to forgive others and myself. It is grace that has enabled me to find my inner-strength and courage to heal.

It is so empowering to learn that you don’t have to be perfect and that you can embrace your imperfections as part of your uniqueness. And it is liberating to be able to accept yourself because of what you are, not despite of it. Grace is the key to both self-approval and emotional freedom.

“The gift of grace is a fresh start to each day, every day.” ~ The Hurt Healer

making a fresh start

Making a fresh start – Amanda Cass

Imagine being able to wake each morning knowing that your past didn’t have to define your future. Think of how good it would feel if you knew you could begin again. Consider how good you would feel if you believed that you were simply okay as you are, but with the desire to fulfill your potential. Those are the spiritual promises that I choose to embrace daily, and they are there for you too.

The gift of grace allows me to accept yesterday, live for today and dream for tomorrow. It’s the privilege of living with a peaceful mind, a vibrant heart and an illuminated soul.

Now that’s what I call ‘Amazing Grace’.

Both images thanks to the super talented Amanda Cass                                                      at http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove                                                                     All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission

 

Guilty.

“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Proverb

Nobody is perfect. Everyone messes up. So why is it so hard to forgive ourselves sometimes?

Guilt can be positive if it acts as a catalyst for change. Seeking to make amends, having genuine remorse can all be stepping-stones to healing and forgiveness. The process of resolution diminishes guilt as others reaffirm their acceptance of us and our apology. You can learn from your mistakes and move on.

But if you don’t forgive yourself then you are heading for misery. Guilt will eat away at your mind, body and soul. And the grater the regret, the more you will try to overcompensate or withdraw completely.

When I was in the grip of addiction, it was shame that kept me there. I was so embarrassed that drink controlled me. I was horrified at the things that I did to myself and others. So I drink even more and so the cycle of shame continued. As my alcoholism passed the point of no-return, I could no longer bear my guilt. I felt so worthless and undeserving. It was more than self-pity. My life was such a mess, and I genuinely thought it was my fault.

The chains of guilt needed to be broken in my life, but first I had to decide that I deserved to be free. Just like the words of the serenity prayer, I learned to accept the things I couldn’t change and found courage to change the things I could. After releasing those things over which I had no power, I could then focus on releasing myself.

It didn’t come naturally and it didn’t take much for my guilty conscience to raise itself. When it did I had a choice to make – use the emotional energy to beat myself up all over again or forgive and restore.

“Grace is getting something that you don’t deserve; and mercy is not getting something that you do deserve.” ~ Francis Bacon

My faith showed me the path to forgiveness through grace and mercy. It was the way to break the chains of shame once and for all.

There are many things that I wish I hadn’t done or should have done.  But today I have the freedom of forgiveness. The freedom to depart from the past and to  welcome the future.

Guilty? Not any more.

Thank you to Jane Hinchcliffe for linking my blog to her wonderful post ‘Forgiveness sets you free.’

Top image thanks to Rebecca N
http://www.etsy.com/listing/107571252/distress-art-print-8×10
                                    Bottom image thanks to Katie Daisy