Saturday, August 30, 2014
Today, friends, I want to focus on forgiveness. Not in a macro kind of "forgive me" way, but in a micro, I forgive ____ for ____ kind of way. Today I want you to find a space in nature, or in view of it. Close your eyes and clear your mind. I find that counting breaths until reaching my age works well, so I deeply breathe for 32 breaths. By the time I hit my number my mind has settled down a bit and the counting keeps it from wandering.
Now for the uncomfortable part. Once you've cleared your mind a bit, reflect on something that you've done to someone else. Say, a bad breakup at your hands that could have been handled better or getting hammered at the company picnic, or making fun of someone only to find they're standing right behind you. Ugh. Cringe. I know, right? We've all been there. I could quite possibly be the ambassador for that cringey place.
Once you have that memory in your mind, go through it. What was it that made you do that, say that, or act that way? At that company picnic, were you nervous about your new job so you kept throwing back beers even though you knew your boss was watching? Who were you trying to entertain and why when you started making fun of a person only to realize they heard you and you could see the hurt or anger on their face? What made you break up with that person the way you did? Were you being a chicken, being mean, or just at your wit's end? Really delve into your memory and find the root of why you acted in a way you are ashamed of. It's not fun, but its important to identify the reason you acted the way you did.
In all of my cases it came down to these five things: social anxiety + booze, grief, depression, being overwhelmed (usually because of not listening to my intuition) and/or fear. One of those things was in play every single time I've done something I regret. I know, we aren't supposed to have regrets, or so they tell us- but I do. And I work hard to forgive myself of all the dumb things I've done and said. Have you identified what your root(s) is in this case? Once you do, the next step is surprisingly simple...Let it go.
Release it and forgive yourself. Realize you could have made better choices and that you're human and in this situation you didn't make a good choice for _______ reason. Forgive your past self so your present and future self don't have to lug so much old shit around. I find that writing it down and then lighting the piece of paper on fire helps. Make a pact with yourself. It could go something like this:
"Hey, regretful self?"
"Yeah, self that's trying to become a better self?"
"You know that time you made a really inappropriate joke at someone's expense at that party, and instead of letting the hurtful joke go, you repeated it...twice? And you watched the person who it was about handle it in a classy way though he/she seemed very hurt by it?"
"Ugh, don't remind me. That memory makes me feel gross."
"Well, you apologized to them. Years ago."
"So, forgive yourself and let it go. You're a human and humans make mistakes. You've also promised yourself not to do something like that again, even when you're in a social situation that makes you nervous and your first reaction is to crack a joke no matter the cost. Got it? Let it go, kiddo! We can't carry around all these old regrets forever, it's giving us a hunchback!!"
"I guess you're right, but I feel like punishing myself over and over for it is like a way of making up for the mistake in the first place."
"How medieval of you."
"Shut up. I know you're right. I should let it go. I promise I will try my best not to put myself or someone else in that kind of situation again."
"And if you do?"
"I'll think before I speak."
"How novel. And?"
"I'll try to keep positive thoughts and words flowing instead of letting anxiety and the need to please/entertain everybody dominate my psyche."
"And I'll forgive myself for being rude to that person so many years ago. And- I'll release that regret."
"Well done, kiddo. Now go have a cookie." Cue the freeze frame high five!
If that embarrassing scenario sounded too detailed to be made up, it is because that's a real one for me. I did make a hurtful joke, and I did repeat it twice and I did apologize to that person years ago and still held onto that embarrassment and shame for almost a decade!! It may seem small compared to other regrets you could cull from your memory (and it is small compared to some of my life regrets) but it's a place to start. And I have to let go of that little regret in order to become more adept at forgiving myself for the big things. I hope you take the time to release something like this from your heart. You deserve inner peace, but you have to work for it; and you can't have inner peace if you're constantly at war with yourself. Be kind.
I hope you have a truly wonderful day!