Why is the practice of self-kindness, or self-acceptance important? How does it help us in this life and in future lives?
Since I began giving readings in 1994, I found many people bringing questions to the reading around the topic of what was wrong with them - what they may have done in a previous life to warrant having the problems that they were experiencing in their present life. It is a powerful question to ask and speaks of the possibility of having enough awareness to take responsibility of being the creator of one's circumstances. In viewing the past lives, there were events that they did not forgive themsevles for, or a person whom had not forgiven them before they died in that life. As such, the mind was imprinted with guilt or criticism at the time of death. Their unforgiving mind, toward themselves or toward another, attracted another life with either an overtly critical parent, whose message was, "There is something wrong with you". Or they may have attracted a parent who had high expectations of them, which is another form, though very subtle, of criticism. In effect, the message is, "Don't fail in life". They go through life thinking something is wrong with them, or they are on a driven path to succeed at something, and as such, experience constant discontent. They could also attract a partner who they are discontented with and critical of, or a partner who is discontented with them. Any of those scenarios played out don't produce a calm mind, or very much happiness, and can be quite emotionally and mentally exhausting.
It is not necessary to know what the events in a past life were that we did not forgive ourselves for. We can work in our current lives with practicing self-acceptance or self -kindness with each moment that arises. We can use our developing awareness to listen to our thoughts to see if they are harsh or critical toward ourselves. If our minds are judging negatively what we are doing, what we are feeling - judging all the ways we, or our lives are not OK, we can assume we are not accepting ourselves with the energy and intention of compassion. It is very difficult to be truly compassionate toward anyone else, if we have not learned how to be compassionate toward ourselves. In the Bible, Jesus states, "Love your neighbor as yourself". So the question to ask is, how can we love our neighbors, if we don't love or accept ourselves? In fact, if we are can't accept ourselves or our lives, we aren't even able to be present in the moment, as the moment is just too painful.
In essence, there is nothing wrong with you, and there never was. It is just negative thinking directed toward the self, and then sometimes, outwards towards others. Our minds (and we are not our minds) are nothing but a bundle of thoughts - good thoughts, bad thoughts, and neutral thoughts. So, changing our thoughts to become kind thoughts about ourselves is a practice of mental reprogramming, and the energy that fuels the practice comes from the heart. The loving heart produces a loving mind. This is the beginning of unveiling the compassion that was always within us; it was just clouded over by negative thinking. The practice always begins towards ourselves. If one practices sincerely enough, then at the time of death, there won't be an iota of negativity in the mind, and as such, we will attract a fortunate rebirth.
Cheri Huber, a Zen teacher in California, wrote a book in 1993 called, "There Is Nothing Wrong With You". It is very simply written and the solution that she gives for healing is meditation. Since that time, her work on self-acceptance has matured considerably, and she uses a complementary method of Compassionate Awareness for non-meditators to lead and open them into self-acceptance. She guides the listener to reawakening lost emotions with compassionate awareness through revisiting suppressed childhood events and memories to be able to connect fully in the moment with one's authentic emotional and feeling state. It is an intense and powerful experience - a 6 hour guidance that effects to open the heart and expand awareness toward oneself. Being kind to ourselves is the beginning of feeling peace and happiness in our hearts so that we can be more fully present in the moment, whatever that moment may be.