Episode 112: Reframing RepentanceJun 24, 2021
The purpose of repentance is to change and create a reconciliation between us and God so that we can reconnect to who we really are and who we are trying to be. But sometimes the way we think about repentance doesn’t create connection and peace—it creates shame. Instead of reconciliation, this shame creates distance and separation which is the opposite of what we want.
In today’s episode, I’m offering a different way to think about our mistakes and our ability to change, and how repentance can be an amazing tool to help us do that. But the way we think about repentance matters and reframing the way you think about it will help you create the change and connection and reconciliation that you really want.
Episode Tools and Questions
Sometimes the way we think about repentance prevents us from using it in a way that really helps us. When our thoughts are creating distance, shame, and separation, then what’s meant to be a reconciliation between us and God or between us and others doesn't create the peace we want.
Today, I want to share some thoughts about how you can reframe repentance in a way that creates connection and closeness the way it was intended to.
- Shame is not a necessary part of repentance. It’s hard to look closely and curiously at our thoughts and actions if we feel ashamed of what we’ve done.
- We do a lot of things wrong - but we’re not wrong for doing it wrong. It makes perfect sense that we make mistakes when we believe the thoughts our brain offers us. The beautiful thing is we get to try again.
- God doesn’t think you’re supposed to do it right, and he doesn’t think it’s a problem when you don’t. He created you and your brain and he understands your experience.
Any way you want to show up in your life is available to you if you just keep practicing what you choose to think. When we can choose thoughts more like God’s thoughts about us - kinder and more loving - we can create healing and connection in true repentance.
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Husa - described in Naomi Levy’s book, Einstein and the Rabbi, pages 51-57
Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price, you might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome!
Hello, podcast universe! Welcome to Episode 112 of the 100% Awesome Podcast, I'm April Price and I want to welcome you to the podcast today. How are you? I am so happy and really actually delighted to be here today. I was thinking about how miraculous this really is. Like, I think it's so amazing that I can have ideas in my head, and I can say them out loud into a device, and that people have been smart enough and created enough to make a way for those words that I speak in this closet to get transferred into your ears, wherever your ears are. I mean, really think about that. And I'm just so grateful that you are here, that your ears are listening to this. And I feel so lucky to have a space in your life, in your ears, in your head, in your day. And I want you to know that I just so appreciate that you are out there, that you are listening. And in some ways, these ideas are helping you, or entertaining you, or making your human experience a little bit better.
So, before we get started today, I wanted to let you know that tomorrow I am teaching a free class at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time called How to Love Yourself and Your Life. And I'm going to be teaching exactly that, how do I love myself and my life? A lot of us think we should be able to do this. A lot of us would like to be able to do this, but it doesn't come naturally, right? Our our brain is programmed to notice what not to like about yourself, or your life, what has gone wrong, all the reasons you can't love it as it is. For a long time, I thought the only way that I could love myself is if I changed like, about a million things about myself. And the only way that I could love my life is I if I stop doing it all wrong, and everybody else stoped doing it all wrong. But loving yourself doesn't ever come from the things you do, and nothing has to change first. But loving yourself doesn't ever come from the things you do, and nothing in your life has to change in order for you to love it, right? Loving yourself, and your life isn't a result of who you are, or what you do, or what happens to you in your life, but it is a result always of what you think about all of those things. And I want you to know that both you, and your life right now are 100% lovable.
And so, tomorrow I'm going to teach you how to do that, and some of you will even be able to be coached so you can register for the class at aprilpricecoaching.com/loveyourlife or you can click the link in the show notes. The class is free, and it's tomorrow, like I said, 12:00 p.m. Eastern. And if you can't make it tomorrow, I encourage you to register anyway, because everyone that registers is going to get the replay of the class automatically sent to them, so go get registered!
Okay, today on the podcast, I wanted to reframe the way we think about repentance, and forgiveness. I've been thinking a lot about both of these ideas over the last few weeks as I have had clients dealing with both of these things. And really for me, actually, I am experiencing, and using these ideas, using the tools of repentance, and forgiveness on a daily basis, right? There isn't a day that goes by that I don't need to repent or forgive in some way, right? And they really are a fundamental part of each one of our Earth-life experiences. And fundamentally, repentance and forgiveness are just ideas, right? They are a collection of thoughts. They aren't physical realities that exist outside of our thoughts, they're ideas, they're concepts, they're descriptions of the condition of our heart, right? Characterizations of the way in which we interact with other humans. And as such, they exist as a collection of thoughts.
And maybe you've never really thought about it in that way, but repentance and forgiveness and the way that we use them in our lives, all of that is shaped by the way we think. And so, I sometimes find that the way we think about repentance, and forgiveness, both of them, prevents us from using them in a way that really helps us in a way that really serves us. Because, as you know, the purpose of both forgiveness and repentance is to make peace, it is reconciliation, right? The result we want by repenting or by forgiving is connection, and reconciliation, either between us, and God, or between us, and others. And what I find is that the way we sometimes think about repentance, or forgiveness, aren't creating peace and they're often creating shame. Instead of reconciliation, they are creating distance, and separation and hiding. And so, I think the way that we think about repentance, or forgiveness matters. And I want to help you see them in a new way, reframe them so that you can think about them differently in the hopes that this reframe will help you create more connection, more reconciliation, more peace, more of the things that you really want.
So originally, I was going to try and do all of this in one episode because I think the principles of repentance, or forgiveness are very similar. But after I kind of outlined I realized that, like, it's a lot to think about and process. It's a lot to take in because it's a pretty big shift in the way we've traditionally thought about both of these ideas. And so, I actually think it will be more helpful to break it up. And so, I want to start today by talking about repentance, and then next week I will follow that up with a new way to think about forgiveness, okay? And that will give you some time to really think about these ideas and try them on and get a shift in your own mind as you apply them.
Okay, now let me say at the beginning too that your brain might be a little resistant, or a lot resistant to the thoughts that I'm going to share. Like our brains hate to be wrong about anything, but especially about, like, big foundational concepts that we've like based our lives on, we've relied on, like repentance. And so, I just want you to know that the way we thought about repentance isn't wrong, and the thoughts that I'm going to share with you today aren't right. It isn't one or the other, they are all just thoughts. And instead of thinking one is right and one is wrong, it's so much better to ask ourselves, is it useful, right? The way we want to examine the desirability of our thoughts is to see how helpful it is in getting us the results we want. Like, is the way I think about repentance useful to me, is it creating the results I want in my life? Does this thought lead to more connection, and reconciliation? Does it increase my connection with God or others? Does it help me change faster? Like, is it useful?
So, today I want to give you a few thoughts that I think are really useful ways to think about repentance. So traditionally, when we think about repentance, we tend to think about things we have done that we shouldn't have, right? Like it involves trying to make that right, trying to make amends where we can repair what we can, and then do our best not to do it again. But fundamentally, at the heart of it, we think that we've done something wrong and we shouldn't have. And then we want to try to not do this thing again. And that may be very useful for you in creating reconciliation. But for most people, I find that thinking I did this thing wrong, and I shouldn't have actually creates shame. It makes us feel terrible about the action we have taken. And for the most part, that makes us feel terrible about us, and we feel shame. And shame is a negative emotion that isn't effective at creating change. So, let me show you why.
First, I want you to recognize that what you do, the way you act is always a result of what you are thinking, and feeling. Like we never act without a reason, we don't ever act independently of a thought. We can't ever take action without first having had a thought, and a feeling. Our actions are driven by a feeling, and that feeling was created by a thought. The way we act is never the first step, right? It is actually the product of something else. It's the product of our thoughts and our feelings. So, if feelings are driving our actions, then in order to change, and act differently, we need to feel differently, right? And to do that, then we need to think differently. And in fact, the Greek word in the New Testament for repent is "metanoó" which means "to change one's mind, to turn our thinking around." In other words, if we don't like the action we have taken, and we want to repent, and we want to change, we need to change our thinking first, because thinking is the seed of every action we take. And I think that the best way to change what you're thinking is to first know what thoughts created the action that we took in the first place, right? Like, how can we go to think something different if we don't know what the thought was that we had in the first place? We need to know the thought that drove the action we don't like in order to change it.
And if we are feeling shame and embarrassment for the way we have acted, we often want to hide. It's hard to look closely, and curiously at our actions, and at the feelings, and the thoughts that we were having, if we are ashamed of what we have done. And this is why I think shame is just not useful at all in creating change in our lives. Instead of being ashamed, we need to be curious, and open in order to find the thoughts that drove the actions we took, right? So, that then we can change those thoughts, metanoó, change our mind.
So, I want you to know that shame is not mandatory for change. Shame is a choice that we make. It's a choice in how we're choosing to view our own actions, our own thoughts, our own feelings, and it is not a necessary part of repentance. And in fact, if the whole goal of repentance is to change our mind, metanoó, then it can't be a part of repentance. Once you have done something, it is done, it is just the thing in the world, it isn't good, it isn't not good, it is just something that happened. It is a choice you made. And now that choice is over. And the way you think about that choice matters. The way you think about what you have done is in fact another choice. And if you choose shame, I think you lose a lot of leverage and ability to look at why you made the choice in the first place, and that makes it harder to change it. I'm not saying that there isn't a way that you want to behave, and I'm not saying that you have to, like, approve everything you do. I'm saying that making yourself wrong for what is already done won't get you closer to the way you want to be. Being curious about what you have done, the choice you have made will.
So, the other day my son texted me, and he was telling me that he felt like he was doing it all wrong, and his brain was telling him that he was doing friendship wrong, he was doing dating wrong, he was doing his life wrong, right? I just I texted him back and I said, our brain just wants to make us wrong, but your actions aren't okay or not okay. They aren't good, or not good, they are just a choice you made. Now, you get to think about that choice any way you want. What you have done, or not done is now just the circumstance, it is a thing that happened. What do you want to think about it? Your brain wants to make it bad, but that's a judgment call that you get to choose. Our brain wants to shame us, but that makes it really hard to change. And obviously, this isn't a case where my son was needing repentance, but he had taken action in his life, and his brain was making him wrong, and ashamed about it. And the same is true for you when you have done things that you want to repent of.
So, if you have acted in a way that you don't want to approve of, and that you want to change, I think the most helpful way to think about this is this. Instead of thinking I did something wrong and I shouldn't have, which creates shame, I think it's so much more useful to think, I did something wrong, and it's not wrong that I did. Like, yes, I made a mistake, and I want to do it differently next time, but it's not wrong that I made the mistake. Of course, I made the mistake. How do I know? Because it is already done, right? I should have made that mistake because it is already happened, and I should have done it because my brain offered me a thought, which I chose to believe that created feelings and that drove my actions. But choosing wrong, and choosing to believe that thought doesn't make me wrong. Choosing in a way that has you showing up, or behaving in a way that you don't like is just a result, it is a result of what you have thought. And if you get really curious about that result, you can change your mind, you can change and repent so much faster.
Like, we do a lot of things wrong, but it's not wrong that we do them wrong. We are practicing, and if I don't make myself wrong for doing it wrong, then I can get curious about why I chose the thoughts that drove that action. What was I thinking that made me act in a way I don't approve of? Okay, let's try that again. And you kind of make a space where you get to keep trying. So, in my life, like I'm sure you know, from listening to this podcast, the place where I see this like showing up for me the most often is in my relationship with my husband. Okay, like I said in the beginning, repentance and forgiveness are a daily part of my life on Earth, and particularly in this my most cherished, intimate relationship because we are married, right? And that means we have a lot of chances to practice love. And lots of times I don't make the right choice. I don't love him the way that I want to, I show up irritable, and frustrated, and when I hate myself for this, when I make myself wrong for this, when I make myself wrong for that choice, it just gets worse, right?
I fall into shaming myself, or blaming him, but when I can say yes, I didn't love like I wanted, I acted in a way I don't like, and that's okay. Then, I can figure out why, what was I thinking? What is the thought that I chose to think that created the irritation, and frustration, drove the actions that I don't like? Let me try that again, and again, right? What do I want to think next time? And by looking at repentance in this way, I have greatly shortened the time that I spend in shame and blame. I can so much faster redirect, and change my mind. You don't even know, I used to spend days, and weeks making myself wrong, and shaming myself until I couldn't stand it anymore. And then, I would spend a few days blaming him, right? But by thinking I did it wrong, and that's not wrong, I have created a shortcut to changing my mind, and changing my experience, right? I have made a shortcut to metanoó, to changing my mind.
You do things wrong, and you get to you do things wrong, and that's not wrong. You do things wrong, and you're supposed to. Even I came to earth to love and that isn't an easy choice when my brain is always suggesting the opposite of love. And so, I'm going to need a lot of practice. I'm going to need to practice again, and again, choosing love when my brain is offering me something else. And I'm going to have to practice it in every kind of situation. And when I don't make myself wrong for doing it wrong, then I can change my mind. I can change the way I'm thinking so much faster, and that has me showing up differently in my life. So, this reframe is so simple, instead of I did it wrong and that's wrong, right? I did it wrong and that's bad and I'm bad. Instead, I want you to think about it as I did it wrong, and that's okay. I did it wrong, and that's not wrong, I get to try again, okay?
Now, repentance, of course, is a vital part of our relationship with God, right? He's the one that asks us to repent, asks us to change our mind, to try to think more like he does instead of the way your brain does. But I promise you that shame, and condemnation are not a part of that. God doesn't think you're supposed to do it right. And he doesn't think it's a problem when you don't, he knows you are here to learn. And the way to do that is to allow the practice of love. I picture him saying to me over and over again, nothing has gone wrong here, try again.
So, there is a Hebrew word that appears in Jewish prayers, sometimes called "husa." And husa is a way to describe that like special kind of love, and compassion that God has for us as his children, right? The compassion that he has for them in their learning experience. And I love this term husa. Neomi Lévy describes it like this. She says, "Who says the special kind of love that an artist has for his or her own creation, even when it is imperfect?" That's the key to husa it's compassion for something that is flawed. Husa involves the absence of judgment, that is why Jews turn to God and ask for husa in their prayers. The soul is yours, the body is your creation, husa have compassion for your work, right? He is the creator, he is your father, he created both your spirit, and your body, which includes your brain. And your work here is to practice the choice of love in that body, with that brain, with the fearful nature of the brain. And it's not wrong that it takes some practice, a lifetime of practice.
Naomi Levy continues, "Husa is the way God loves us, even though we are imperfect, even though we've messed things up here and there, and I would add everywhere, mess it up everywhere. Too often, she says, we live with thoughts of God as the punishing judge. It is time to let those thoughts go. God is the soul of the world. Believing in us. Cheering for us. Praying for us. Strengthening us. Teaching us." And I like to think about God as my coach, right? Because no matter what I bring to my coach, no matter what I've done, or not done, no matter how I've shown up in my life, no matter what thoughts created all of that mess for me, how would I come to my coach? She never judge me for that. She says, let's look at what you were thinking and what that choice is creating for you. And then, she asked, do you want to create something else, and she helps me try again. But it is with the absolute belief that I am okay as I am, and anything that I want to do, any way that I want to show up in my life is available to me if I just keep practicing choosing what I want to think.
I want to share one last thought from Neomi Levy, because it is so important to understand. It tells us why we want to think about what we've done in this way so that we can access God's grace, right? This is what she writes, "Husa not only realigns our relationship with God, the main power of husa is that it transforms the way we treat ourselves and how we treat others." And we're going to talk more about that part of it next week when we dive into forgiveness. But then she concludes, "Looking within is not about hating yourself. It is about healing yourself. Husa doesn't mean blindness or denial, it means that with kinder eyes, we give ourselves permission to look at ourselves. Without cringing, and without hate so that we can actually see what's there, what needs fixing, so you can face what you resist."
Exactly right. Isn't that so beautiful? That is what repentance is all about, creating healing by changing the way we think. And in order to do that, we have to look at ourselves without cringing, and without hate so that we can actually see what's there. So today, I want to conclude with an experience that I had recently. Last Sunday when I went to Sacrament meeting, I had an experience and a thought that I had about all of this that I'd like to share with you. So, the week before that Sunday was a great one for me, right? It really wasn't. And as I sat in church, I was having all kinds of thoughts about how wrong I had done it, and how that was not okay, right? How it was wrong, that I had done it wrong, and of course, that filled me with shame. I knew that I had not shown up in my life the way I wanted to. I hadn't. I hadn't treated the people I love the way I wanted to, and I had lots of thoughts about how that wasn't okay, that I should be better, and that I shouldn't be doing it wrong.
And as I took the sacrament, which, of course, is a beautiful moment of reconciliation with God, right? Like a moment that signifies our change of heart, our change of mind, our desire to stop, you know, living our life the way our brain wants us, and to try to live it with the thoughts that God has. The way he would live it, right? And I had an image come into my mind and in my mind's eye, I kind of see Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden. And as you know, in the scriptures, right in Genesis, it talks about how God made clothes for them as they left the garden, a garment for them to wear out of the skins of an animal. And of course, this is symbolic, right? They had fallen, and now because of that choice, because they chose something against God's law, they would now need the sacrifice of Christ. In a sense, that choice required his body, his skin, right? And now they wore this skin as a reminder of that. And I had this moment where I realized that garment that God gave them wasn't a coat of heavy shame, right? Like this terrible reminder that somebody had to die because of their mistake.
It wasn't a constant reminder of their messing it up. Instead, that garment was a reminder of the protection that they were now under. It was there to remind them that they get to mess up, and they get to practice as much as they need to because he was protecting them. It wasn't a reminder that they had done something wrong, it was a reminder that they were allowed to do that because there was a Savior. He would make an atonement for them, and they would be protected from all the practice they needed to do, right? All their mistakes, and all their practice was covered. That's what atonement means in Hebrew, to cover. That garment was a reminder that everything was covered. Repentance isn't there because you shouldn't have done something wrong, repentance is there because, of course, you should have. Of course, you are going to do it wrong, and you get to try again. You're supposed to do it wrong, and you're here to practice, and you get as much practice is it takes. You get to change your mind again, and change it again, and change it again, and change it as many times as you need to. He has it covered.
You don't need to repent because you shouldn't have done it wrong, you need to repent because, of course, you did it wrong, but you don't have to keep doing it wrong if you don't like the results. And changing your mind is how you get to do it differently. And there is healing, and change, and reconciliation available to every one of us. So, when your brain says, I shouldn't have done it wrong, I want you to think, of course I should have, I wonder why I did? I wonder what I was thinking, and feeling, and knowing that how do I want to change my mind? What do I want to think now?
Remember that when Adam and Eve left the Garden, Satan and provided cover to, right? He pointed out, hey, you're naked, you should be ashamed. He suggested to them that they shouldn't be, that they had made a mistake, and that they should be ashamed of what they had done. And he tried to cover them with the fig leaves, right? He covered them with shame. And this is not the kind of covering that real repentance requires. You don't need shame, this is not God's way. God's covering provides protection, husa so that we can try again. Yes, you did it wrong, but that's not wrong. Try again, you are covered as many times as you need it. You are covered. I think that thinking about repentance in this way will allow you to repent faster, to change your mind faster, to feel better, and show up differently in your life in the ways that you want to. I also think that it increases our love for God because of his willingness to cover all that practice, and this makes reconciliation with him so easy. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome! I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.
If you love the podcast, I want to invite you to a free online class, how to love yourself and your life. I'm going to teach you why there's a really good reason you probably don't love yourself or your life the way you want to right now. And the simple solution to change that. Plus, you'll have the chance to be coached by me. You can feel completely different about yourself and your life and fall in love with both of them without needing to change anything else first. And that is 100% awesome! You can register by going to my website at aprilpricecoaching.com and I'll see you there!
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