Yesterday, I was on my way to Wethersfield to pick up my guitar that I had serviced. I was on the interstate, in the left lane doing about 78 miles an hour (speed limit 65). My husband was in the passenger seat motioning for me to get over, I was on the phone, hand held. Then, I noticed in my rear-view mirror, another car, driven by an older woman, was directly behind me. Directly. I kept looking at her in my front rear view, my side rearview, and she kept pushing. I could not pull into the next lane to get out of her way – there were too many cars. I disconnected the phone. My full attention now was on this woman pushing me from behind. Every three seconds I was checking my rearview. She kept steering left to see if she could get around me – and mind you, I was already in the left lane. Obviously, she was in a hurry. With all my attention on her, looking in my rearview mirror, I did not notice what was going on in front of me. All of the traffic in front of me had come to a complete standstill. You know that feeling when you realize you’re out of options? You know you caused the problem, someone else added to it, and now…WHAT???
The only reason I’m alive to tell you this is because only part of it is true…. I told you this to show you that this is what we do when we hold on to our past, constantly checking, re-viewing, feeling that tension that it will slam into us if we don’t get out of the way.
Can we do anything about our past? Can we change anything? We all know we can’t. What’s done is done. Another truism from my mom.
We have all, every single one of us, made poor decisions along the way. We’ve done things that have hurt others, and ourselves. This is Life. And life is about learning. I believe we cannot know who we want to be until we see who we DON’T want to be.
With the goal of forgiving ourselves in mind, there are a few things we can do to achieve this. And believe me, I have had opportunity to practice these.
As humans, we really don’t want to do something until we can see the benefit of why we’re doing it. Right? Is there a benefit to holding on to past grievances and not forgiving yourself? I think not. Yet, we do it. The feeling that un-forgiveness brings is the most draining, and debilitating emotion. I don’t live there anymore, but there were days and days that were so unproductive because I used to live there. The benefits of self-forgiveness are many: We can look ahead to a better future, we can understand and empathize with others when they fail, we can encourage others to do better, we get to “know” ourselves at a deeper level. I believe God desires Truth in our inner being. When you’ve done something that does not line up with your Truth, you feel that at the deepest level. So how do you bring yourself back to Truth? And what is Truth?
First, acknowledge that you’ve done something that is not in alignment with Love. You can acknowledge that to the person you’ve harmed, but mostly acknowledge that to yourself.
Apologize. Resolve to do better.
Next, try to think of this as a learning experience. So, you failed “the test”. Study more. Find material that will teach you what you must learn to do better next time. And next time, do better. When you know better, you do better.
Give yourself permission to put this on hold for a bit. In other words, ease up on yourself, and realize that this “becoming” is a process. My friend has a mantra that goes like this: “help me to become the woman that I was born to be.” The journey is long and sometimes circuitous so don’t expect you’ll get it right the first time. You have to get to know yourself along the way, know what your triggers are, know what works and what doesn’t. Trial and error – “a way of finding a good method that involves several possibilities and learning from your mistakes.” (Macmillan Dictionary)
Have a conversation with your inner critic. This inner critic is a real bugger, huh? Always finding reasons to put you down, and keep you there. Judging you. Telling you you’ll never make it, why try. Who is that speaking, anyway!! Re-discover the voice of Truth: You are loved, in spite of what you’ve done. You are forgiven. You are beautiful, just as you are. You are enough. You are learning. New mercies every day, every breath you take. Stop being so self-critical. And here’s what happens…When you focus on what’s behind you, your past, you can’t even begin to see what lies ahead. And every time you re-tell your “story” to yourself or someone else, you relive it. You tell yourself “I’m such a jerk. I’ll never get it right. I’m not worthy of such Love.” And you sink even further down. Your body hears the vibration of these words of self-judgement and stores them in your cells, creating dis-ease. Just like it hears you when you berate another person for what THEY did. Watch the video The Message of Water by Dr. Masdru Emoto on Youtube, if you don’t believe me. So yeah, your inner critic? Show it the door. And lock it.
Do you want to break the cycle? Giving past failures less time and attention is one way to help move forward. But you also need to examine the expectations and standards you hold for yourself. If you would forgive a friend for something, why hold a higher bar to clear for yourself? Does this all this mean we (or they) will forget eventually? Does this mean we won’t have regrets? What do I do with my regrets? Make a “regret bonfire” or a “regret funeral”. Metaphorical or real – it works. Do it a number of times if need be. With each time, you’ll realize the forgiveness going deeper and deeper.
The bottom line? When you find yourself back in the place of True Love, Love of God, Love of yourself…Then you can see clearly what lies ahead and it is amazing! Hopeful. Exciting. Joyous. I know you want that. We all do.
I actually was driving on I-84 yesterday and I actually was on the phone, doing 78 with an anxious woman on my butt. And I was focused on my rear-view mirrors and Bill (my husband) was motioning for me to get off the phone, pay attention, and get over. I see you shaking your head…and I understand. Thank God the traffic in front of me did NOT come to a complete standstill, and I was able to eventually get into another lane to let this woman pass, probably doing 90. (But what’s that to me?) Can you imagine the disaster that would have ensued had I continued to focus on what’s behind me!!
Correct. Forgive. Do better. Pay attention. Focus on what’s ahead. Enjoy the ride.