What a powerful and wonderful quote.
This quote covers so many themes for me. Stop living in the past is a key theme in my life. We spend many hours a day ruminating over events that have happened. Something thoughtless said during a meeting at work. Something unkind said to a child while rushing to get out the door in the morning. But does thinking about it over and over changing anything?
Not so much. I used to wake up during the night in a sweat thinking about that unkind word that came out of my mouth during a stressful time during the day. I used to drive in a daze of rumination going over and over an event that I didn't handle well. That behaviour never helped me resolve my inner conflict, it left me feeling worse and worse about it.
Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go. How beautifully simple. I forgive what others say when they say something careless that did hurt me but was clearly an outburst from the emotion of a stressful moment. I know it's not what they think of me or what they mean to say. I don't hold a grudge against them for days, weeks, years even. I forgive them and let it go. Sometimes I think about the situation and consider if I may have done something differently which may have reduced the stressful situation for all involved. I LEARN from the experience. I commit to handle the situation differently next time, and then I let it go.
By spending my time ruminating about the past I am taking time from creating my future. I am not making the best use of my time. It makes incredibly good sense to extend my forgiveness to myself when I am the one who has made the mistake. For isn't it from our mistakes that we learn? To learn I must forgive myself. I must consider the situation, learn from the situation, commit to to better next time and move on.
So often I don't give myself this luxury. I punish myself by thinking about the situation and making myself feel bad about the situation over and over. I take my focus from my future and dwell in the past - achieving nothing.
I have found two reason why I do this which may be relevant for you.
Firstly, I have not been self aware enough to even realise that I am punishing myself about something - I don't realise that I need to forgive myself. This lack of self awareness doesn't relate to saying an unkind word to the child, it goes deeper than that. For example, my children are on their way to growing up, finishing school and moving away from home. I haven't been the best parent that I wanted to be. I have needed to learn so much about myself that I punish myself for not being there enough for them, or supporting them as well as I would have liked.
I have come to realise that actually, I AM the best possible mother that they could ever have. The greatest mistake would be to never have taken the time to learn the lessons in the first place, and now - as they begin to navigate an adult life - now they need my support and guidance as much as they did when they were younger. I forgive myself. Everything that happened was the right thing to happen for me to learn the lessons I needed to learn.
I forgive myself. It even feels good and freeing just writing it. These are the types of lessons and forgiveness's that can truly change your life and can open you up to great learning and lessons. This is what we need to teach our children.
Secondly, I didn't learn how to say sorry as a child. I have struggled to acknowledge my mistakes that have affected others because I'm just not good at saying sorry. Saying sorry - I believed - draws attention to my mistake. It makes me take responsibility for my mistake when it was easier to lay responsibility in front of someone else. But saying sorry has the completely opposite effect to what I thought. It doesn't make the person think badly of me - it allows the other person think well of me! It make me vulnerable and allows us both to learn from the mistake - and move on!
I say sorry as often as I can now. It seems to help in the process of drawing the lesson from the mistake, forgiving myself and moving on. I am learning how to be free of my rumination because the bond between the person and myself is intrinsically stronger. We achieve the thing so many of us seek - human connection.
We tend to blame others people for situations that arise - he shouldn't have, they shouldn't have. Certainly when someone says something hurtful we have a right to feel hurt. But we really can't stop that person from saying hurtful things. We can ask them to - we can yell at them, we can discuss politely - we can do all these things, but still they may choose to continue to say hurtful things.
There are only two ways to deal with these difficult situations - distance yourself from the person or change how you respond to them. Sometimes we can remove hurtful people from our lives - but if this person is a family member, or a work colleague - the most powerful thing we can do is change how we react to it.
We can look within ourselves to change how we react to this situation - to change our emotional response to the situation. Often we have developed automatic emotional responses through our life history which occur before we have time to think about it. A person says a hurtful thing and an angry response explodes before a second thought can form. The statement is not true - HOW DARE THEY! Regardless of true or not - the unpleasant feeling of anger and then maybe shame for being angry is experienced.
By reflecting on this situation during a quiet time, or using reflective questioning may uncover an earlier experience of being hurt from an untruth which has left a residual and automatic feeling of anger and shame even though the statement is untrue. Through understanding this trigger, and practicing to replace the response with an alternative the unpleasant response can be avoided.
It is important to understand that the person doing wrong is doing wrong - there is no getting around that - but changing oneself can provide relief from an unpleasant situation.
On our journey to change our lives two things strike me as so very fundamental to achieving the outcomes we are looking for.
We are overwhelmed with change in our current style of life. If we look back on how the world was when we were children, the amount of change has been enormous. If we consider the styles of lives that our parents had we can see that the amount of change has been enormous.
Sometimes the change that get the most attention are the big changes. The new home - a big visible change. We lose sight of the fact that this big change was actually achieved through the implementation of many small - incremental - changes. The steps a person has gone through to be in a position to enjoy a new home have been many and varied. The one constant is taking incremental steps that ACCUMULATED to become the one big change that we see.
The second thing is - don't stop taking those incremental changes. If we stop taking those incremental steps that we don't achieve our goals. Taking these incremental actions also helps embed the change into our psyche. The change becomes a part of who we are so that when we achieve the outcome we don't let it slip away. It sticks because it is us.
I found an article in a newspaper a couple of days ago discussing the book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Written in 1937 it talkes about changing your mindset to achieve the outcomes thatyou seek. "Rich" can be defined in any way you like - it could be financially rich for some, it could also be rich with beautiful fulfilling relationships for others. But the book doesn't stop at just changing your mindset. In the detail is the necessity to continue to take action. To continue to make incremental changes towards that which you seek.
For me, it is the combination of the changing mindset AND taking action that rings true.
What did you do to change something in your life today?
The moment that you life your head off the pillow, you have everything that you need.
I interrupt my daily meditations to bring you a message from me but from a presentation I went to last night by a most wonderful person: Steve Biddulph - one of the worlds best known family educators.
Have an awesome day,