How to Forgive
What do you think about forgiveness? It’s a big idea, full of lots of stuff, lots of emotional stuff, most of it not very nice. There is an old saw I like, “Resentment is letting someone live rent-free in your head. Now, I must say, I have never figured out how to get someone who lives in my head to pay me rent. If you have, please drop me a line and tell me how.
Resentment and forgiveness are quite the pair. Resentment is simply the re-feeling over and over of the bad feelings we get when someone does us wrong by our estimation. Forgiveness is choosing not to re-feel those bad feelings and replace them with peaceful feelings. This is sometimes very easy and sometimes ridiculously challenging.
It’s been my experience in life that a lot of how easy or challenging forgiveness is depends on how righteous we feel about holding onto our resentment.
Why do I forgive? What makes me let go? How have I changed from resenting to forgiving?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should just forgive and forget willy nilly. A lot of what I have now managed to forgive were egregious wrongs that no one should do to nobody. I mis-learned stuff from those experiences about how the world is, how I should be in it, and how I should expect to be treated. I needed to sort that stuff out. I needed a really good teacher. It took me a while. But I wanted to clean out my emo-basement. I needed to work through them, remember them, feel the feelings all the way through, notice what I had mis-learned, and then I could start thinking about forgiving.
For the stuff that isn’t so dire, though, forgiveness is a nice tool. It’s a good thing to practice with because we all experience stuff that gets our goat, so we get lots of things to hone our skills on.
It’s important to remember that resentment mostly just chews on us. That’s why forgiveness is so nice. I have had the experience several times where I found out that someone wasn’t speaking to me because they resented something I had done. No idea. No impact on me. Dang. What’s the point of resenting if it has no impact on the other person?
How do I forgive? You know me, I like to give you specific and easy instructions that work for loads of people if I can. So this is how I do it.
I check to see if I have work to do around the resentment I feel, and if there is, I do it. If not, I become aware of my thoughts. That’s a good habit to cultivate anyway, noticing what we are thinking. We spend an astonishing amount of time thinking the same thoughts over and over. If I’m gonna do that, I would just as soon they be supportive, uplifting thoughts, thank you very much.
As soon as I notice that I am resenting, I think something else. If I can, I will go to compassion for the person. That’s kinda high-level stuff and it took me a while to get there. It’s also good practice. I like to silently sing, “Let it go, let it go, let it go” to the tune of Let it Snow. I do something to distract myself. That is it. Usually, after a few rounds of this, I’m done with it. Nice. If I’m hanging on to the bad feeling, I will look at it a bit more to see where it’s hooked me. Surprisingly simple. Very effective.
The more I practice letting go of something that really only hurts me, the more room I have for nice stuff. I like nice stuff. I like feeling peaceful and happy instead of angry and seethe-y. I like spending my think time on nice stuff like how do I want my life to go? What do I want to accomplish? Why am I successful? So much better than rehearsing all the shit. Heh.
How have I changed from feeling the same bad feeling over and over to letting go and feeling clean?
(c) Pam Guthrie 2016 all rights reserved 01222016
Friday, January 22, 2016
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Trusting the Win
Today when I drew my Creative Questions card I got two! I love it when that happens. Why do I trust? Why am I a winner? Good Questions! And a dynamic combo.
Two things are really useful for making the most of these questions; a concept called reframing; and a look at our judgments.
For me, my attitude about the world did a big shift when I realized that events are neutral. I know, right? Big stuff. Events don’t shift out from neutral until we judge them. Arbitrary. My POV. We know it’s true because we have seen over and over in our lives how one person may interpret an occurrence as a horrible disaster and someone else may see the same set of events as a great blessing. True isn’t Truth unless it’s true for everyone. Like breathing.
Since my goal is to live my effortless, natural life, I am looking for the neutral, and then the blessing. I practice this daily on the little stuff, going with the flow, carving new pathways in my brain, so that this practice comes to work on the medium stuff and the big stuff.
I had to do this, start this practice, and that meant I had to change my attitude about the Universe. In the yore days, I thought that the point was struggle and suffering. I thought that the Universe sent me trials to test me. Now I think I was full of beans! Now I think that the Universe is looking to help me be my best self, to support me, to shower me with blessings.
Breaking my habit of suffering misery took some doing. I ended up reframing my experiences by asking good Creative Questions like, How could this situation support or benefit me? What makes me find the silver lining? Why would I allow and accept this? How have I changed from going to misery to choosing to find the good?
By practicing this reframing daily, it has gotten to be automatic most of the time. This means that I hardly ever get thrown for a loop, or feel flapped. Usually, when I do, it’s because I am distracted by physical stuff, but I get my sangfroid back pretty fast. And replay the event with a variety of alternative responses so I am more prepared for the next time. One of the cool things is that there is always a next time until I get that kind of interaction reframed, and then it hardly ever happens anymore. Weird.
How could I choose to trust? What makes me believe everything happens for me? Why am I successful? What makes me appreciate my efforts?
Oh, yeah, that’s a big part of this whole process. I need to notice, allow, and accept my successes when it comes to changing my behaving. I need to review them from time to time, then own them. For so many of us, this is really challenging. We get limiting ideas about how we are who we are. We can always recognize these limiting ideas by noticing where we say stuff like, “That’s just the way I am,” or, “that’s just how things are.” These beliefs are like dropping a rock in the sand. They go plunk and just sit there. That’s just the way it is.
Well, it’s not. You’re not. We are so much more than we tend to think we are. We are dynamic, shimmering beings with amazing powers of change, change that happens in our brains, in our minds, in our beliefs. When we start using good Creative Questions, everything loosens up, everything gets softer, and we have wiggle room to be happier, more content, stronger, softer, and more alive.
How have I changed from feeling like a suffering loser to knowing that I am a trusting winner?
(c) Pam Guthrie 2016 all rights reserved 01062016