Hard Lessons; Forgiveness

Hello Everyone! Hope you all have been having a wonderful weekend. This was quite a whirlwind of couple of weeks for me. A couple of weeks ago I went to a Women’s Leadership Seminar, and I thought it was interesting that the biggest point was self care and putting yourself first. A lot of the things that I went over in therapy showed up at the seminar. Keys to confidence as a leader were very similar to the tools I used to help me with depression. Curious? Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you;

Confidence Strategy;
1. Focus on your potential, not your limitations
2. Remember your past accomplishments
3. Positive Self Talk, every day, beginning of the day
4. Just do it – We must do the thing we fear the most
5. What is the worst case scenario?
5. Replace fear of failure with pictures of success
6. Cultivate relationships with supporters
7. Do not let lack of confidence stop you from going after your dreams

What is missing from this list, which I think is pretty vital as a leader and individual is staying in the present moment. Sure there are moments where you have to think about the future and some goals you want to achieve, if you are looking to leading a happier life, staying in the present moment is going to help get you there.

This leads me to the topic of the blog, forgiveness. Of the tools that have helped me, this one is one that I currently working on. I have the tool, I just need to keep working on it.

The Problem

Have you ever found yourself reminiscing about a moment? The should, could, would? You find your mind dwelling, obsessing about it? You grow upset, you feel disappointed with yourself, you wish you could go back to the time period and change everything.
  Maybe someone did something to you, and you wish it never happened.
  Maybe you did something to someone else that caused them harm and you regret it.
  Maybe you did something to you.

When you let your mind dwell on these moments past the point of learning a lesson, it no longer serves you, it begins to rule you, and you let it. Why?

Because you haven’t let those moments be forgiven. You let your past rule you and let it led you into depression, anxious thoughts, anger, etc.

So why should I forgive?

If someone did something wrong to me, why should I forgive them? What they did was wrong, by forgiving them then are you saying that gives them a pass, that it was ok for what they did?

Why you should learn to forgive

People who have learned to forgive have shown both physical and mental positive benefits. Mental, in that you are able to move on and live in the present. Physical in that people who let a burden of not forgiving weigh on them, it also weighs on you physically, almost like a rock you keep in your pocket.

How long will we fill out pockets like children, with dirt and stones? Let the world go. Holding it, we never know ourselves, never are airborne?

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

I have one personal example of forgiveness I would like to share with you all and how it has helped me move on as much as I can from that particular experience.

From the ages of about 6 to 10, a girl who was my age that I grew up with sexually assaulted me on a repeated basis. She was my first experience of what I thought was friendship, that what was happening was ok. She was bigger and more popular than me. She used both of those to her advantage. I was bullied at school, hardly anyone wanted to be my friend, only to go home and experience more torment. No one knew that this was going on, not even my family, even as it was happening in our backyard. At 10, she moved away to another state. Finally, I was free.

When I was a freshman in high school, we read a book called “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. After reading the book, and doing my own research I came to the realization that what she did to me I didn’t deserve it and it was not ok. I felt ashamed – that it happened and kept happening, guilty – because I let it, didn’t tell anyone, and that it was a girl who did it to me. When my grandmother passed away, her mother insisted upon us reconnecting, which led to me telling my mom what happened and why I did not want to reconnect. I will spare you her response, lets just say the response was not validating of what I went through.
I let this become a story that I told myself over and over again, the reason why I had a hard time trusting people, why I had a hard time with friendships and relationships. Even when I thought I had gotten over it, I found it creeping back into my conscious. In times when I was trying to enjoy the certain aspects of being in a relationship, it made its way in, showed me my past, making me feel scared in the moment and guilty and ashamed. I felt like I didn’t deserve what was happening to me. I was damaged goods. It still ruled me after all that time.

One day, I made a realization, how would a girl my age, know how to do something like that? Why was it ok? How did she even know about porn and would force me to watch it?
I remembered her family, how she herself was bullied as the only girl in her family, she had two older brothers in high school. I came to some horrifying conclusions. She must have experienced some form of the same treatment and the way she could feel good about herself was to put herself in a position of power, whatever the cost, even if meant being the persecutor, at least she was more powerful than someone.
In that moment, I felt sorry for her. The story that I had told myself, began to change. It became a series of unfortunate moments to many individuals, beyond just myself. I found myself in a position to be able to forgive her. I felt lighter, as if a stone that had been weighing on my chest had been lifted off. I could forgive, I could forgive her for what happened. It doesn’t make what happened right, by no means, but I could and now have forgiven her for what happened. It happened, its done, and I release her and the story I told myself from the presence it had in my life. I am not defined by those moments and neither should she. Now I have not personally tried to reach out to her. I have no interest to do so, but I find that I can see myself in a different light. I am no longer damaged goods, I am still a good person, I am defining who am I not what actions others do onto me. I was at that point, able to forgive myself. I found that even my relationship had a slight elevation level from my stand point and that I was able to enjoy certain aspects more.

I tell you all this story to show how forgiveness is mentally and physically beneficial. I show the example above as a way to demonstrate both forgiving someone who did you wrong and forgiving yourself. I also know that I am not alone on this journey, that there are so many people that can unfortunately relate to the story above. I want you to know that you are not alone.

So how can I forgive? I have a tool you can use

The Forgiveness Meditation

The forgiveness meditation involves 3 sections, you can determine which section goes first;

Forgiveness of those who wronged you
Forgiveness of you
Forgiveness of those you did wrong

In all 3, you line up the people involved (including yourself). Visualize this line.

The important part of this; if you are not ready to forgive, don’t force yourself to forgive. Let the process happen naturally. If you are not able to forgive, make note of it, then outside of the meditation, examine why you are having a hard time forgiving.

Here is the link to the meditation with the script;

What I Learned

Be kind to yourself because this is going to take time. Progress and going through this type of work isn’t like how maybe work or school goes, where everything is on a linear track. What I am finding out, and trying to not get frustrated about is this work can be circular.

When I went through exercise, and as I go through therapy, I realize when I am asking forgiveness from others are forgiving others, and I have a hard time, its because I haven’t forgiven myself for something.

The beauty about it being circular work is that each time you go through what you need to go through, you are even better than you were the last time. So don’t beat yourself up, I know I have, still do, but working through it 🙂

The Golden Gelly Nuggets;

1. Confidence is a multi-layer list of positive self talk
2. Live in the present
3. Forgiveness has mental and physical benefits
4. Circular Progress is still progress
5. Don’t beat yourself up – build yourself up

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