I had a client here the other day who, before we even started the reading, spent a solid 15 minutes railing about all the injustices done to her by her dead father. Then she switched gears and bitched about the years of verbal abuse she’d gotten from her ex husband. These two guys had given her self-esteem a serious beatdown. I couldn’t blame her for offloading all this anger and resentment.
When we moved to the subject of forgiveness, she shut down on me. Her mouth tightened up and she said, “I just….can’t. If I do, its like they win.”
Whoa – how many times have we heard THAT before? Forgiveness is one of the thorniest issues we deal with. Because it DOES feel like, by forgiving someone, they win the argument. Or it means they’re “right.”
I really think we need a different name for “forgiveness,” something that doesn’t sound so kumbaya-ish and is a bit more badass: purging, scrubbing, kicking them to the curb. I’m taking suggestions.
Because when you insist on carrying grudges and hurts around, it does nothing but slow you down. It stands in the way of you getting what you really want. If that’s not letting someone else “win,” I don’t know what is.
Forgiveness does not mean you condone what they did. It does not mean they were right. You observe what they said or did, acknowledge that it sucked and then….kick it to the curb with all the other trash you no longer need. Just like you have no connection to a garbage bag filled with coffee grounds, egg shells and used paper towels, you no longer need to have a connection to the trash from your past. Observe it. Let it go.
Look at forgiving someone as the most radical, in-your-face thing you can do. They’ll never see it coming, and by the time they digest your new behavior, you’re well down the road to your future. Freer. Fiercer.
I wrote about a technique for letting things go in this earlier post. And if the idea that they’ve somehow gotten away with something still chaps your hide, check this out.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve kept a journal. From high school through my early adulthood, I spent hours filling dozens of spiral notebooks with every random event, meaningful song lyric and painful moment. It was my comfort, my friend, my addiction. And as I moved out of the dorm, into my first apartment(s), I carted them all around in a couple of plastic milk crates.
A few years ago, when I was packing to move again, I randomly pulled out a few of those spiral notebooks, sat down and had a good read. The pain of my college years leapt off the pages and brought back a ton of memories (OK, I was a bit of a drama queen). It was hard reading them, realizing how sad and frustrated I had been. After a couple hours, I realized that I had been carrying pain around with me. Literally. So I dragged those crates downstairs and threw just about every one of my journals in the dumpster (I kept a few for laughs, because nothing makes you glad to be older than reading your 16-year old self. Holy crap).
For me, that was a liberating moment. I never realized how attached I’d become to those notebooks, fearing that if I didn’t have them with me, I’d somehow “forget” my life. That ceremonial dumping made me realize that I didn’t need those painful reminders — I had lived through them. Constantly hanging on was not going to serve me.
So I let go.
Those journals were tangible baggage. But what are you carting around from the past that no longer does anything for you? How many milk crates are taking up space in your head?
There’s a great exercise that I just discovered to help free yourself of any situation, painful memory, person or whatever is putting a negative splotch on your life:
1) Picture that person/situation/thing in your mind’s eye. And here’s the key thing — remain unemotional about it. Emotion is like sugar to a toddler; it amps up the energy and makes it hard to manage.
If the thought of that bad breakup still makes you start clenching up inside, take a moment to breathe. Now try again. Maybe make them/it appear like a static picture. Once you have the image in your head, put it in a bubble of white light. Call this Part A.
2) Put an image of yourself in a bubble of light, too. Again, remain unemotional about it. It’s just a picture of you (aren’t you glad you combed your hair?) This is Part B.
3) Bring the A and B bubbles together,and attach them within a figure eight.
4) Now, imagine you’ve got a big pair of scissors and you cut the figure in half, letting Part A just float away, softly, into the light.
I heard of a woman who used this exercise to keep her neighbor — whom she liked — from incessantly playing the piano. She didn’t know how to tactfully ask him not to practice, so she “released” the image of the neighbor playing….and guess what? The neighbor suddenly curtailed his sessions dramatically. And no cops had to be called!
Now, with some things, it may take you a couple attempts to really feel like you’ve rid yourself of its past influence and gotten it out of your energetic field. You may run into your ex unexpectedly and have a setback. Just do the exercise again. I guarantee that with each attempt, their power over you will be dramatically reduced; and when you see your ex with their new honey, you’ll be able to be all cool and calm…and not want to put a shiv in their side.
I’d love to hear how this worked for you, so hit me up in the Comments section….
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha