Forgiveness & Fishing

Image copyright: 123rf/Ron Zmiri 

“If I forgive my ex, it’s like I’m letting him off the hook.”

How many us have felt this way, even though we know that forgiveness is in our own best interest?

In a culture where everything happens so quickly, there are those who assume that speedy forgiveness is a sign of maturity, inner strength and a reflection of our character….and that really bothers me!

This is not a race. How about allowing ourselves to be human, to rage and struggle, to be confused and scared, and to wander for as long as it takes to sort through our history? Now that takes true character.

I believe there is a difference between wanting to forgive and being ready to forgive. I also believe forgiveness come unbidden when we are committed to healing, which brings me back to the quote about forgiveness meaning we’ve let someone off the hook.

Imagine a woman sitting at the end of a dock with her fishing pole. The fishing line is in the water, and she may feel a fish squirming on the end of the line, though that may only be her imagination. It may have already swum away.

Forgiveness is not about taking a fish (or your ex) off the hook. But, when we are ready, it’s about setting down the pole and going to lunch.

Though there may be times we return to that dock and pick up that pole, we no longer need to hold onto it for very long, for we have felt the freedom that comes from setting it down.

What Does Healing Really Look Like?

Image copyright: 123rf/nicku

Coffee with a friend can be filled with unexpected conversations. Over my friend JK’s latte and my mint tea, she shared that she was very disappointed in herself.

JK had divorced many years ago. Her children were grown and lived out of state. She did not move in the same social circles as her ex, had not seen him in ages and was very busy enjoying the new life she created for herself. Her comment surprised me. Then she shared this story.

A few weeks earlier she and another friend were waiting to be seated at a restaurant when JK turned around and suddenly found herself face-to-face with her ex…and she froze.

She didn’t remember what she said or if she even said anything. She simply shut down. Her friend gently took her arm, guiding her as they followed the hostess to their table.

Once they were seated JK started to shake. “What just happened to me?  The divorce was over ten years ago. I’ve worked so hard to heal. I don’t understand. Am I falling back down into that awful dark hole? I’m terrified of going through the pain it will take to climb back out again.”

“No, you haven’t fallen down any dark hole and no, you don’t have to climb back out of anything,” her friend said.  “Your body was simply trying to protect you. It felt danger and went into a flight or freeze reaction. I’m glad it chose to freeze and not run out of the restaurant on this bitter cold afternoon!”

JK told me she laughed, took a few slow, deep breaths and her panic subsided.

Now, as she sipped her latte, JK said that she assumed once she healed, she would simply move on. But our bodies have long memories, and sometimes it takes more time than we realize to reassure ourselves we are safe.

We decided healing isn’t a package with a bow that you receive as a reward for the hard work you have done. We didn’t want to imagine healing as that smelly onion with all the layers that you keep peeling off while they make your eyes water.

We agreed that healing was an adventure, an exploration. Whether the new scenery we encountered was dark and frightening or shimmering with light, it would constantly challenge our perspectives and often take our breath away.

Breathing Lessons

The following is a guest post from Roxann Keyes of Center for Life Design.

Our lives are getting busier and busier, full of things to do, places to go and people to see. We often don’t have time for the fun stuff, let alone the stressful, hard stuff.

I find more and more that I am talking to many of my clients about the importance of the breath and breathing properly, because I can see they are holding their breath. It is the simplest way to keep yourself calm during stressful and traumatic times.

There is a saying: “Hold your breath, hold your pain.” The human body, as an organism, is always working toward homeostasis, or balance. When we don’t address the things we should, our body will. If we don’t manage our stress, our bodies will give us pain, either physically or emotionally, in the form of headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, fatigue etc. as a way to make us slow down and pay attention.

When we hold our breath, our breath is shallow and we use our chests to breathe, actually also use our neck muscles to help us breath. This makes any neck, shoulder issues worse and creates even more tension.

Chest breathing keeps us in the sympathetic nervous system—the stress response fight, flight, freeze. Instead, breathing from our belly engages the parasympathetic nervous system—relax, digest, restore.

What is the proper way to breathe and why is it so important?

The proper way to breathe is to bring the breath all the way down into the belly. Rest your hand on your belly. Your hand should rise and fall with the breath, as if you were blowing up your belly like a balloon. It is easiest to practice this at night when you are laying down, before you go to sleep. Taking a full belly breath engages the diaphragm, which, when engaged, massages the internal organs and helps them do their job better. This allows the neck and shoulder muscles to relax and release their tension. Belly breathing also allows us to be calm and stay calm so we can make better decisions.

To create different patterns of thinking, behaving and produce different results, we need to go into the unknown, do something we haven’t done before. We must do what we are most likely afraid to do to make and have a change in our lives, only this will give you a different experience. A daily practice of proper breathing is the simplest way to start. A start to healing, a start to change.

Do You Feel as Though You’ve Lost Yourself?

The following is a guest post by Dr. Shannon Gulbranson.

Do you feel as though you’ve lost yourself? If the answer is “maybe” or “yes,” then please keep reading. If the answer is “no,” but you feel as though there are parts of yourself that you’re hiding, that you’ve misplaced or that you’ve left behind, then keep reading.

Wherever you are today, there are practical steps you can take to get you, your dreams, your voice and your life back.

First, let me clarify that it’s not so important to get these things back as it is to move them forward. Forward with the you that you’re on your way to becoming, as well as the life you’re creating. Sometimes going back helps us remember what we desire. However, it’s vital to know that going back isn’t where you’re going to stay or discover yourself.

You, my dear, are here. Now. Today. The question is, are you acknowledging yourself today? Please do yourself a favor and try these three sacred steps.

Step #1: Expose yourself

Whoever you are right now, expose her by completely acknowledging yourself. This means your feelings, thoughts, ideas, likes, dislikes and anything (and everything) else. Then enjoy the process of releasing her…

Step #2: Express yourself

Say what you need to say. Do what you need to do. Be who you are now, exactly where you are. Locate yourself, here, not there. Once you do, you can begin to move forward.

Step #3:  Engage yourself fully

This is also known as getting to know you. When you’re willing to accept who you are and where you are, you can begin to become the desire(s) of your heart.

And here you thought that somehow your desire(s) and you were separate. The sacred secret is this: you are your desires. Allowing yourself to become is key.

When you stop exposing and expressing your desire, you stop being fully you. You stop becoming.

Show up and expose yourself today. Speak up and express yourself. Stand up and engage yourself by fully engaging in your life and your life’s work with all of your self.

Are you willing to go all in?

Your Power is in Choosing Your Thoughts

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Kern Collins.

How you think about life is everything. What you focus on in your mind translates to an emotion. Your emotions are your feedback system, indicating whether what you’re thinking in your beautiful brain is in alignment with what your deeper spirit knows and wants for you— and your spirit always wants what is in your best interest.

Simply put, when you feel good, your human thoughts are in alignment with your spirit. When you feel bad, your mental focus is out of alignment with what this “core essence” part of you knows.

Traversing the chasm of divorce will call you to rely on your deeper resources and invite you to rise up into the next-highest level of your potential, of who you are capable of becoming. Identifying and then intentionally managing your thoughts will support you in this process to no end. And your feelings provide the quickest way to recognize what your thoughts are. Hold more of your attention on the thoughts that feel good and you will empower your Spirit to more effectively help you navigate this huge life transition.

In the midst of my own marital separation, as I recognize which thoughts feel best—or most self-honoring—to me, I know those are the ones guiding me to live in alignment with my Soul’s divine path. Identifying and continuously selecting feel-good thoughts requires a skill set, effort and practice, and it’s so worth it.

Some simple examples to illustrate…

Bad-Feeling: It used to be so good between us.
vs.
Good-Feeling: What’s ahead of me is even better.

Bad-Feeling: I failed in this relationship.
vs.
Good-Feeling: We’ve reach a “completion point” and are simply no longer a match.

Bad-Feeling: I’m never going to make it on my own.
vs.
Good-Feeling: I have more strength, courage and wisdom than ever before, and I know I am capable.

I hold the focus on the good feeling thoughts as much as possible, because I want to be the one to determine my emotional state—not the circumstance or another person. I’m the leader of my life, and I want to deliberately choose how I claim my power, positively influence outcomes and flow through this process.

Plus, if a thought feels positive—even if I don’t completely believe that it’s true (yet)—I know that it’s my spirit affirming, “Aaaamen, Sistah! You are on the path of your highest good!”

While grief, fear and anger are a natural part of concluding a relationship as vital as a marriage, you also have the ability to choose how you want to focus your mind and spend your emotional energy, riding the waves as best you can. This is where your true power lies! The next level of your best self is emerging. The more you can align with things that feel good and self-honoring to you, the smoother your transition will be and the sooner your new glorious chapter can begin.