Cultivating Divinity: Forgiveness
Life will take things from you, and give things to you, gradually and continuously. It’s funny how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Do your best to embrace life’s uncertainties. Some of the best chapters in your life won’t have a title you feel fully comfortable with until later. –www.marcandangel.com
One of the hardest things a person can do is let go of a gripe. Holding on to a gripe can make you feel vindicated, right, or give you something to think about when your mind is drifting. It’s much easier to hold on to our anger than it is to let it go and to forgive. And, honestly, it takes a lot more effort to take out that anger, analyze it, and move on. To forgive.
As parents, we have myriad of tasks to focus on. We don’t have a lot of spare time or energy on our hands to just … be leisurely. We go go go because our kids go go go. And we have to keep up with them. When they are younger, it’s playdates and constant care and ‘Don’t put that in your mouth!’ As they age, they enter the realm of sports and it’s one practice after a game after a uniform check. Go go go. Parents don’t have a lot of time for self-reflection. I get it. (Actually, most big people don’t have a lot of spare time; this is not just a parental thing to be busy.)
The thing is, though, that in order to successfully navigate through this extraordinarily busy life, parents also need a wealth of tools at our disposal, and having a store of positive energy is one of those very useful tools. Having and tending to children is a hard hard task; you don’t have a lot of time during the day to recoup what energy you are using in order to be successful at this on-going task. Things and thoughts that sap that positive energy are not doing you any good. Carrying around the burden of anger or a grudge against someone - regardless of how much time you spend on it daily - will be a hit on your positive state of mind.
A conversation about forgiveness isn’t really complete without looking at self-forgiveness. Of all of the people we know, of all of the people we have interacted with in our lives, we are hardest on ourselves. Why is that? Why is it so hard to move past something we did, an act we committed, or perhaps did not commit … why not move toward forgiveness? Just like forgiveness for another individual, forgiving yourself really isn’t just about putting the past behind you and moving on; rather, self-forgiveness is an action of self-compassion and acceptance. Without taking steps to amend the action, apologize, and move towards renewal, one can fall into a pattern of rumination, dwelling and even self-hatred or loathing which can become a proverbial negative ball and chain. Often, the last person we can forgive an action is ourselves; we are our toughest critic. Success with this sort of self-care is just as important as forgiveness for another.
We all have our things. We all have our ball and chains of regret. We all have those instances wherein a Do-Over would be much appreciated. But, guess how many times you really do get a Do-Over in real life? Until someone invents that magic time machine, zippo. Yeah, it bites, I know, but … that’s life. Perhaps it’s a good time to remind you that you are not the only person that really regrets something.
Ask yourself this: how would things be different now had you done (or not done) that THING? How would life look now? How would your situation have changed for the better? Because it is also important to realize that that big thing you regret does not actually impact you – or others - as much as you think it might. And, perhaps also important, think about how this past situation may have positively impacted you; how have your morals and values changed in response? How have you positively grown from this situation? Focusing on what you’ve done to grow and change – and potentially not repeat the regret – is a positive way to frame your reactions. More growth can potentially come from mistakes than from successes.
And what if it did change everything? What if you see your Big Regret causing a huge upheaval? It is unfortunate when we can’t move past the enormity of our past actions or decisions. It is unfortunate when the weight of our regret does not allow us to see the positives in the current situation rather than What Could Have Been. What Could Have Been might have been nice; what IS, though, is also beautiful and amazing and real. Reality, and the acceptance of it, is vital for moving on. The past is the past; it is done. What is Now is what you can do something about.
Can you turn the page? Can you cut yourself some slack, and move on? I’m not saying what happened is something to poo-poo; I am saying though, that there is a point where the regret you feel can actually negatively impact your health, your well-being, and your state of mind. Self-forgiveness and moving towards self-love is such an important step in moving past our mistake and growing from it. The love and kindness we show others is just as necessary to give ourselves for our own healing.
You know what? I am not a trained counselor. If there are Regrets that you have that are so huge you can’t see past them, then probably you should seek professional help. You are worth the effort to get over to the other side of this. And I know you can do it. What I can tell you for sure, though, is that I, too, have some doozy regrets, and though these past decisions/actions of mine feel really big some days, and I wish I could have done things differently, I know if I had, my life would not be as it is; everything would be different. So instead of dwelling on what could have been, I instead focus on what is, and I appreciate it all that I am, and that I have. In all honesty, I am grateful for that Regret because it helps me to have a whole-hearted appreciation for today.
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