Just a few thoughts…

Archive for the tag “Forgiveness”

The “F” Word

When I was about 10 years old, maybe a little older, my Dad slammed me in the door at our family’s restaurant. Not just my hand or my arm, but pretty much half my body. We were running around and he didn’t know I was behind him, and he shut the door with me in it. I think I was more shocked than injured, which is crazy considering the size of my father. He felt terrible, I was crying, he apologized, I forgave him. He obviously didn’t intentionally sandwich his youngest child in between the wall and the door, so how could I be mad at him? After all, he IS the kindest man that ever lived; but at 28, it’s still very much unforgettable. I forgave, but never forgot.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy, mostly because we don’t know where to start. Not all situations are cut & dry, black & white. What does it even mean, really? If I wrong you, and you forgive me but not forget what I did, and every time you see me you’re reminded of what happened, did you really forgive me? Whoa! It gets kind of blurry.
I try and look at situations in terms of what part I am responsible for. How did I help create/propel/act/react to lead it to where it resulted? We all know someone who points the finger and blames everyone else for misfortune or mistake. There’s a time frame before that happens when we can pause and take ownership for our role in every moment. People are people, and you know exactly what I mean! We get hurt, we wrong each other, we fight, and we change relationships forever. It’s not intentional; it just happens. We ALL get slammed in a door. Before you run around blaming others, stop and think about what you did to allow the situation. I knew my Dad didn’t know I was behind him, but did I yell, “Dad! I’m behind you!” No. So was it completely his fault for shutting the door behind him with me in it? Absolutely not.
Most often we need to start by forgiving ourselves before we can forgive others. Forgive yourself for taking a risk. Forgive yourself for making a decision that didn’t end how you hoped. Forgive yourself for not setting boundaries when necessary. Forgive yourself for following someone through a door. YOU’RE HUMAN! The day we stop learning is the day we stop living, right? We always look for the best in others, and sometimes we get disappointed. Rather trust and get burned then never trust and never know; that’s what gives us dimension.

So the next time you say you’ve forgiven someone, make sure you’ve forgiven yourself first. Take ownership of your percentage of the event, and really think about how you stand. Forgiveness is not an emotion.  It’s a choice. It’s a verb. It’s a conscious action. It’ll make you better friends with yourself.

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Leave Your Shoulds at the Door!

There’s someone very special that recently came into my life, and once a week, we have very a meaningful conversation. We really don’t have very much time to chat, so we squeeze a lot of information into a short amount of time. For sake of the story, let’s refer to this person as Jazz. Her name is Jazz.

Jazz and I talk a lot about what the word “should”. People throw “should” around like it’s already etched in stone what the guidelines are. I “should” do laundry; I “should” wash my car. What’s even worse are the “should not’s”. Here’s the perfect example: “I really “should not” be watching TV right now.” In other words, I’m tisk-tisking myself? How does that work? I thought I can make my own decisions?

The way that I envision what’s happening here is that we have developed an imaginary Rule Book that floats around with us. Think about all the decisions you beat yourself up over making. “I shouldn’t have eaten that piece of cake…” or “I should have spent more time working in the yard this week.”  Now you have to punish yourself even more by working out for an extra 30 minutes? That sounds awful! Who is actually telling you that you “should” do things?

Jazz says, “Don’t should all over yourself.” All this does is make us feel guilt, regret, and angst to make up for things we’ve done. It’s possible that having a piece of cake doesn’t make you feel very good afterwards. Take inventory of how you feel, log it in your brain, and move on. But no one else in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD cares about how many pieces of cake you eat.

Start making decisions based on what feels right. Take a second, turn off your head and heart, and listen to your gut. What does your gut tell you to do? Get rid of everyone else’s opinions, including your own! Your opinion is usually clouded by “shoulds” and advice you have seeked from others. Just because someone gave you their opinion does not mean they will judge you when you choose the opposite. I know we’re using cake as an example, but this could be much deeper.

What about when picking a partner? It’s common for people to say, “You should date so-and-so.” Or we tell ourselves, “I should like so-and-so because of A, B, and C reasons.” NO YOU SHOULDN’T! Don’t make decisions based on “shoulds”…all it will do is leave you resentful, lost, and mad at yourself. Find a quiet place, turn off the world, and listen to your inner voice from your gut. I’m a person who is extremely hard on myself in every aspect of life. I have trouble being nice to myself, and making friends with me. But Jazz’s advice has been extremely helpful. I catch myself using “should” when I’m talking, and it makes me stop and think, “Who says if I should or shouldn’t do this?” I’m the boss of me, and you’re the boss of you. That’s the way it IS.

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