It serves us to do an emotional housecleaning from time to time. I don’t mean we literally clean our house, I refer instead to reducing emotional clutter in our minds. A good area to first target is forgiveness. There are things we have great difficulty in forgiving that others have done to us, or that we have done to ourselves.
It takes a lot of energy to make things, or people, or ourselves wrong. Energy spent on these things does not get to go toward creating powerful lives, to promoting vitality and joyous living. I liken it to carrying around a backpack full of rocks. There is a cost to blaming others and ourselves for perceived misdeeds. When we forgive, a lot of positive energy becomes freed up which can be directed to contributing to our happiness. Or to the happiness of others.
Step Towards Freedom
Forgiving is not the same as condoning, and it is not forgetting. It is to step toward freedom, to empty the great weight of rocks from our backpacks. It is to acknowledge that we choose now to use our emotional resources to make life work, not to be backward looking, or to feel like victims of others’ misdeeds, or even of our own past choices.
I tell people two things about forgiveness: That I want them to forgive themselves (or others) and move on, and, that I want them to get that there is nothing to forgive.
I mean that labelling our’s or other’s actions as bad or wrong can leave us stuck in a place of permanent victimhood. ‘Disrespect’ is such a label, that once applied, pushes us to treat the behaviour as something that needs to be replied to in certain ways. In some situations this may even mean physical aggression. However, if we are willing to hold back from attaching that label, and focus on the facts, meaning, what actually got said, or what actual actions took place, we can keep a wider spectrum of possible responses open to us.
Take The First Step
The first step toward forgiveness to see what holding blame costs us. Notice where we stop being ourselves, where we become suppressed, where certain peaks of positive emotion are missing. Where are friendships diminished? What is the cost to our self love when we blame ourselves?
Then understand that it is not the actions, ours or others, that cause us to be upset. It is our view of those events, our interpretation that leads to upset and feelings of upset, disappointment, sadness.
When we open our hearts to forgiveness, we reject the holding in of views and interpretations that don’t serve who we are, that rob us of happiness and a healthy sense of self. We acknowledge that the rocks in our backpacks are OUR rocks, put there by US, and we have the immediate ability to get out from under their oppressive weight.
And with a new lightness of step, we move toward a future that is unencumbered by past grievances, and toward a life lived with a free and open heart.