The World Doesn’t Need Any More of That Sound

Forgiveness is not always easy, and for some people forgiving themselves is harder still. We are all flawed and absurd to some degree. We have our fantasies, desires and messy, confusing history to unravel. Most of us can look in the rearview mirror and spot a few choices we’d make differently, given the chance to go back and make them over again, but life doesn’t move backward. Whatever is behind you has brought you to this very moment, where you find yourself reading these words — where you could, if you wanted to, take a very deep breath right now and exhale out some old pain. You don’t have to keep everything filed away and heavy.

Shame is crippling. It shuts you down and makes you doubt yourself at best, loathe yourself at worst. Shame usually travels with guilt, but you can only ever be where you are. You work with the tools you’ve got until you have better tools, and then you use those. Maybe you can go back and mend some fences; it might not hurt to try, depending on the circumstances; it’s possible something beautiful will emerge. If you’ve hurt people, you can always ask for forgiveness, but eventually, you have to forgive yourself, and use what you’ve learned to do it differently next time. Hopefully as you travel, you have greater resources and a deeper understanding of yourself. Maybe you could throw a little self-compassion into the mix, go a little easier on yourself. If you’ve hurt people, join the crowd of everyone else who’s hurt people. Most of us flail around at some point, grasping at things that don’t exist, or exist only in our minds.

Sometimes we’re in so much pain and darkness, we blindly reach for something we don’t even understand. We want closeness but aren’t ready for it, or some part of us wants it, and some part of us is terrified at the thought of it. When we don’t know ourselves well and we seek intimacy anyway, we’re likely to hurt ourselves and other people, too. It’s not intentional. Most people don’t set out to hurt anyone. Forgive yourself and forgive others as much as you can, but also do your best to get right with yourself so your pain isn’t ruling your life. Sometimes you’ll make a real mess out of things, and sometimes you’ll be on the receiving end of someone else’s confusion. Take good care of your heart, and as best you can, take good care of other people’s hearts. A heart is precious, you don’t want to be reckless with it. Short of that, you might as well celebrate your humanness. Don’t hide it, there’s no point, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Embrace your whole self, even the absurd parts, maybe especially those. Be vulnerable. You might as well, because you are, just by being human. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Learn as you go, and forgive yourself the times when you didn’t and couldn’t know better. What’s in front of you is the thing, that’s where the potential is. Don’t block the road with shame.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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Don’t Burn Yourself

You-will-know-thatThis is often a tough one for people, but holding on to resentment, old stories and anger will only make you sick, and it’s the worst kind of sickness, too. It’s the kind that depletes your energy and blocks your ability to love as fully and deeply as you could. It’s the kind that has a grip on you, that sometimes makes it hard to breathe. The uncomfortable truth is that you’re the one holding on, if you’re full of resentment and pain over something in your past.

Sometimes people feel if they forgive it’s like saying whatever happened is okay, but that isn’t true. There’s some desire to keep score, to hold that tally card and make sure it’s marked correctly, in permanent ink. But nothing in this life is forever, and nothing is certain, either. Forgiving people and eventually wishing them well is not the same as saying whatever happened is okay with you. It just means your commitment to your own peace and happiness is greater than your determination to file away another person’s transgression in the library of your soul. In order to keep those feelings of anger or pain alive, you have to feed them, you have to stoke the flame every so often. Retell the story to a new friend, or re-boil yourself over it on a dark day. It takes a lot of energy to carry heavy stories around with you everywhere. But if you get more interested in your own healing, you won’t want to tell that old story anymore, or keep it alive in your heart.Forgiving someone means you are unhooking your journey from theirs. You are saying, in effect, that you are not letting your past dictate your future, you are not going to drag old feelings into new situations, you are not going to allow yourself to be defined by things that have happened to you. You are taking responsibility for your own happiness. And that unhooking is also a detaching. I don’t believe it’s possible to detach without doing the work to heal first, without leaning into your pain and acknowledging it, without having compassion for yourself. But when you’ve given yourself the time, space and respect to move through all those feelings, I believe you can let it go. Liberate yourself. Open yourself up to new stories, new experiences with more knowledge and understanding about yourself. And when you detach and remove the charge from the situation, there’s really no reason not to wish someone well, to hope that they’ll heal. I fully realize this is where the “we are all one” conversation becomes extraordinarily challenging. But if you really believe that, as I do, then you have to want everyone to heal–to grow, to open, to move toward love. Because the more healed and loving people we have walking around on this planet, the better it is for everyone.

Commit to your own well-being. Take charge of your story and start to co-create it in a way that feels good to you. Forgive life if you need to, with the understanding that is isn’t fair, and that sometimes unbelievably painful losses fall upon the best people. The ride of life does not take place on a level field, after all. Become more interested in your own potential to feel the limitless love you have within you. Don’t let anyone or anything rob you of that; that’s your light. People will do and say all kinds of incomprehensible things in this life, the work is to see the pain beneath their words or actions. That doesn’t mean you have to want to hang out with them. It just means you take your power back, because life is short. I don’t believe there’s any time to make yourself sick with resentment. There’s controversy over the origin of this quote, but it’s a good one, whoever said it: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Don’t burn yourself anymore if you have been. Love yourself. Heal yourself. Free yourself. And shine. Sending you so much love, as I always am, Ally Hamilton

Are We There Yet?

The-most-important-tripNo one is perfect, we are all just human. As such, we will all make mistakes, say things we don’t mean, do things we wish we hadn’t, and be left with the mess to clean up.

Sometimes you will be the person who made the mess, and sometimes someone else’s mess will land on your head. I’ve certainly been on both sides of that equation, and neither one is especially fun. If someone else’s mess lands on your head, you may have some pretty strong feelings about it. Especially if you feel the situation could have been avoided. But there are always two or three (or more) sides to every story, and your perception is just that. Nonetheless, it’s very unlikely anyone is intentionally “messing with your head.” I’m not saying that never happens, and if you feel you’re caught up with someone who is, then get yourself un-caught. Quickly. Because life is too short for that.

But if it’s the kind of messy stuff that happens as a result of simply being human, work through your feelings, express yourself, shampoo your head, and let it go. If it was your moment to blow it, examine what happened so you can show up differently the next time. Know yourself, and be accountable, but also try to give yourself and the other humans you know a break. We all want to feel appreciated and loved. It feels terrible to be the object of someone’s pain, or anger, or contempt. And it also feels terrible to be angry, disappointed and resentful. Don’t “boil yourself” alone for too long. Talk things out with people you trust, and whenever possible, practice forgiveness so you can set yourself, and the mess maker(s) free. Because you’re going be the mess maker too, it’s just a matter of time.

We need to love each other. We need to know how to look someone in the eye and say, “I blew it, I’m so sorry”. (You can’t do that all the time, though, or “I’m sorry” becomes meaningless!). This business of being human is not easy, and it’s a nightmare for perfectionists (full disclosure: I know because I’m a 97% recovered perfectionist). Being in a constant state of disappointment with yourself and others is no way to live; it’s life in prison. Forgiveness is the key. You can find it tucked away in this little pocket in your heart. Reach in there if you need to and set someone free. You may be the someone. Be kind to yourself and to everyone you encounter. We are all in this crazy, beautiful, mysterious, gorgeous mess of being human together. The path is full of twists and turns, and so are we. We are all going to trip and fall and screw things up sometimes. May as well recognize that and have the hose ready! Sending you love, and a hug, Ally Hamilton