Forgiveness is an Embrace

Directing your energy is one of the most powerful ways you can decide to be happy, and often, it really is a decision. If you’re grieving, if there are things happening in your life right now that are so painful you question your ability to get through the day, this does not apply to you. Short of those knifing losses we face sometimes, the ability to choose one thought over another is like a super-power we too frequently forget we have.

It’s easy for the mind to latch onto ways we’ve been wronged, disappointed or mistreated. You can get snagged on thoughts like those and let them grow in your mind until they’re so big, thorny and uncomfortable, you feel you may burst or suffocate. We are human beings on a spinning planet with no real idea what will happen next. That’s not an easy gig, but I wouldn’t want to miss it. If you can embrace the vulnerability of this thing, your own exposure and lack of protection, you free up so much energy for the joy in life. When you let go of the pretense that you’re in control, that your carefully mapped out plans will all come to fruition exactly as you’ve envisioned, life becomes so much easier.

Some people want to be angry, to hold onto the pain and feed it and strengthen it. Maybe there’s a payoff. Maybe being angry like that excuses them from action and accountability, or maybe it protects them from being hurt by others. Maybe they get sympathy and that feels almost like love, or maybe it feels like home. Just because something is familiar to you doesn’t mean you have to curl up with it. You’ve made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, everyone you pass today, no matter how shiny or perfect they may seem, has made mistakes. It’s part of the deal of being a human.

There are also people who don’t want to be angry, but aren’t sure how to stop, how to shift gears; the thing is to catch yourself. When you’re driving, or folding laundry, or taking a shower, to notice where the mind has gone, particularly if it’s taking you down a path of pain. The past is in the past. It’s absolutely worth examining so that you can glean the information you need to move on and make informed choices in the future, but sometimes something is so painful we obsess over it. Betrayal is like that. When you’re shocked because someone close to you has done something you never thought possible, it’s hard not to turn that experience around in your mind over and over again looking for clues, because things like that make you question everything. You wonder about your own judgment, the relationship, whether there was anything real there or if you were confused, other relationships in your life, your ability to discern what’s real from what isn’t. Betrayal is a tough one, as are breakups, the loss of a job, rejection, any of life’s tougher experinces. But the reality is, once you’ve looked at something carefully and learned all there is to learn from the experience, nothing productive comes from dwelling on it. It’s easier said than done, and time definitely helps remove the sting, but at a certain point you just have to pick your mind up and consciously turn it to something else.

When you boil it down, you can feed your fear, or you can feed your love. Feeding your love feels so much better. A huge step in that direction is simply to practice forgiveness. When you forgive people, it doesn’t mean you have to tell them, or have them in your life. It just means you’re committed to your own peace, and you hope they find some, too. It means you’re unhooking your story from their actions. Sometimes there is room for reconciliation, it’s case-by-case. Freeing your heart is the thing, and forgiving yourself, as well. You don’t want to walk around with a closed or hardened heart. We don’t get a lot of time. Even if you live a “long” life, it’s not a lot of time, so I wouldn’t waste too much of it looking back. Regrets are normal, but that’s also a form of looking at things with rose-colored glasses; if only I’d changed this one thing, then…and the truth is, you can’t ever change “just one thing”, if you go back and undo one decision, there are a million others connected to it. You’d have to unravel your whole life, and the truth is, you’d just be trading in one set of circumstances for another. Every single path has some pain, you can’t escape that.

The jagged edges of your life, the decisions you made in desperation and with longing, the unexpected joys, the surprises, it’s all part of your adventure. The whole thing isn’t going to be fabulous, some of it is going to be really heartbreaking; that’s called being human. The thing is to move toward joy, to grab it with both hands, to celebrate it when it shows up in your life, to try to create some for others, and to be kind. I wouldn’t use too much of your time pining for the past or worrying about the future, because whatever is behind you is behind you, and who knows what’s in front of you? I think I’d focus on how much love I could give today, that seems like the best plan to me.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes here.

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