When we're little, it's standard practice for our brains to hold on to every little (or big) thing that was even somewhat detrimental to our well-being - I mean our brain holds on to it for dear life. Literally (or so it thinks). So all of these negative experiences we have in our lives stick to our brain like Velcro, and they build on themselves until our brain is full of them.
What happens when our brain is full of trauma, negative experiences, and limiting beliefs running the show?
We make bad choices. Choices that are not in alignment with who were are at the core (because our perspective of reality is skewed).
We see the world through a lens of pain. We expect people to use us and hurt us. We give up on love, or maybe we never knew what it was in the first place.
We close off our hearts and we close off the source of our power with it, and we say "forget about that"; the door is sealed off tight and it's gone.
And we repeat these same vicious cycles in our lives over and over on a loop, never truly stopping to ponder why these things are happening.
They're happening because that's what we're programmed for. We're looking for pain, so we find it. Over and over and over.
And we blame ourselves for making these bad choices. We blame ourselves for the pain we feel and the pain we're inflicting on others.
It's true that we are responsible for our actions. But can you forgive yourself? For the version of you who was younger? Less experienced? Less wise? For the version of yourself who had no idea what they were doing or why? For that thing you're holding on to? The pain inside that you don't want to let go of - because it reminds you of something dear to your heart. Can you forgive yourself?
Imagine a small version of you, existing in an alien world. No idea where they are. It's pitch black. They don't have a flashlight or a map or anyone to show them the way. They wander around in this dark, lonely, scary world and they get lost. They've been stumbling around and taking all sorts of wrong turns. They don't know where they are, let alone where they're going or how they're supposed to get there. After a long time of wandering, they are miserable. They know they're lost, they're lonely, and they're scared.
Would you look at that scared, lost little version of you and blame them for how lost they've become? Would you say "that was your fault; it was your fault you were there, it was your fault you had no flashlight, it was your fault you had no map and no idea where you were going. The choices you made that got you lost are your fault." Would you blame them for that? Would you shame them and belittle them for where they are (despite where they've been)?
I'm going to assume you wouldn't. You'd hand them a flashlight and a piece of a map. You'd reassure them - "hey... there's daylight coming soon. Things are going to make a lot more sense in the very near future. You're going to be okay. It'll only get better and better from there. Don't give up!"
We can't literally go back to our younger selves and give them light to lead them out of the dark place they're in. But we can love and forgive ourselves. The versions of us that made bad choices. The versions of us we're not proud of being. The versions of us who were in so much pain - or who shut off their emotions completely.
Look back on them with love. Because you remember how lost and alone they felt... You can send them the love they were so desperately needing. You can send them forgiveness for not knowing what they were doing or for going the wrong way. You can reassure them that they're never truly alone, because all of the future versions of you are looking back at them, full of love.
And in that way, I think we do become lights for ourselves. Forgive yourself. Trust yourself. Love yourself. And if you don't know how to do that yet, now's the time to start figuring it out.