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.

It’s Not Failure!

Image copyright: 123rf/Pop Nukoonrat

Failure is not a word that fits for much of life thanks to the judgment that oozes from it.

Have you ever heard someone say they felt like a failure because they were in the process of divorcing? Have you ever felt like that yourself?

Maybe you are, or were, in a marriage that didn’t work and couldn’t last.  Maybe you tried desperately to keep it together or felt for a long time that something wasn’t right. Or maybe you were blindsided and shocked when your partner announced they were leaving and it was over.  However your divorce began, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by pain, fear, grief and confusion.

Why would anyone judge this as if it were a grade on a report card? This is a situation where human beings are struggling to find their way. It is not a failure. It’s life and life is filled with choices and change, with loss and grace.

Often people say things happen for a reason. I would encourage you to take this one step further and create a reason for what happened. When you have sufficiently recovered from your divorce (or any life trauma), you can choose to grow, to learn, to make a difference in some way. You can make the choice to be more compassionate with yourself and with others and strive to heal and look to the future.

We are always falling down and getting up. We are always bumping into old thoughts and certainties that no longer fit us. The more we experience life, the more we reevaluate and change our perspectives.

It’s not failure. It’s growth, it’s change, it’s a gift.

Sweeping Away the Eggshells

I always considered myself to be a strong person, except when it came to relationships. In my everyday life, I would speak up if I didn’t agree with something or walk away from things that didn’t seem right. In the dating world, not so much. I was basically a “yes” person. Whatever my date wanted to do or wherever he wanted to go, I agreed, even if I wanted something else. I always seemed to choose the guy I knew wasn’t really that interested in me, while saying no to the ones who were. It’s was almost like I didn’t feel I deserved to be treated well or be happy.

By the time I met my husband, I had sorted out some of the inaccuracies in my behavior, although still not quite believing I deserved happiness.

Later in our marriage, we hit a major speed bump. He had addictions that were consuming him and had little time for me. Every day brought something that we couldn’t agree on and it always felt like I was walking on egg shells. I would try to share my feelings, but it seemed I could never say them right. I’d walk away feeling I was in the wrong yet again.

Even though I didn’t want to be around him anymore, I stayed. I wore our friends and family who listened to my woes and told me to leave him. Perhaps the complaining, although negative, was my way of getting the attention I wasn’t getting from my husband. Someone told me I was a strong person. Was I? I seemed strong enough to stay but not strong enough to leave someone who was causing me such unhappiness and stress.

Eventually, he was able to receive help and overcome most of his addictions. However, in my mind, one addiction remained, but in his mind, it did not. This left me more frustrated, angry and sad. Would I ever let myself be happy?

While wandering around the house one day feeling extremely unhappy, my voice showed up. I was able to communicate to him precisely how I felt. This time he listened. A weight had come off my shoulders and it felt wonderful. At last, I was able to start sweeping away the eggshells.

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.

Why Do We Resist Forgiving?

The following is a guest post by Mary Hayes Grieco of The Midwest Institute for Forgiveness Training. 

“Forgiveness is releasing an expectation that is causing you to suffer.”
– From “Unconditional Forgiveness” by Mary Hayes Grieco

In the last twenty years, nearly 4,000 new studies in psychology and medicine have proven what we intuitively know is true: forgiveness is good for our health and happiness. Numerous studies make the link between resentments and stress-related illness like heart problems, backaches, chronic pain and sleep problems. Most recently, the chief surgeon at The Cancer Care Centers of America stated that he believes there is a strong link between long held resentments and certain cancers. It seems like our growing awareness about the cost of resentment and unforgiveness will be the next big public health issue.

“Let it go – you’ll feel better” is something your grandma probably told you. Chances are good that you thought about forgiving the offender for about a minute, then dismissed the idea. We really don’t want to. Why is it that even though we know that forgiveness is good for us, we still have so much resistance to it? I think we resist forgiveness because we misunderstand what it is, and we don’t know how to do it. I want to propose that there are some unfortunate myths out there about forgiveness that need to be dispelled in order for the public to embrace forgiveness as a life skill and a good health habit.

Unfortunate myths about forgiveness that create resistance (and keep us stuck)

Myth #1: “Forgive and forget.”
Seriously, did that ever work for anyone? It doesn’t and we intuitively know that, so we don’t want to try and fail. What we actually need to do is forgive and remember and turn our wounds into wisdom. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting, excusing bad behavior or allowing people to continue to hurt us.

As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.” So, forgive them for your freedom, but don’t allow them to harm you again.

Myth #2: Forgiveness is hard and it takes a long time to get there.
In reality, it isn’t any harder than learning how to drive or how to floss your teeth – you must take a little time and be taught how to do it, and practice. And it doesn’t take forever once you know the steps; most of the time, once you’re educated and ready to go, it takes about an hour. See the steps on my website.

Myth#3: You must talk it out
Many believe that forgiveness means you must talk to the other person, make peace, and work things out – someone has to apologize. Nope. Forgiveness is actually a private healing experience which you do to release your pain and gain relief and healthy detachment about the person and the situation. You don’t have to talk to the offender at all or find a common understanding or extract an apology – all that stuff is in the category of “reconciliation,” which is a whole different animal.

Myth #4: There are some things that are unforgiveable.
Do you really want to believe that there are some things from which you will never heal? Everything can heal, eventually. Some things take longer than others, but they will heal if you remain open to the healing process.
Myth #5: You have to be some kind of saint to forgive something really big.
I’ve seen many ordinary people forgive some truly terrible things – human beings are phenomenally resilient!

When one person sincerely and effectively forgives another person, a miracle happens. The stagnant block inside them dissolves and melts away and the light of their soul slides in to replace it.