Forgiving Ourselves – Easier Said Than Done

One thing I have learned over the years is that often times our problem is not so much other people or circumstances but ourselves. Not exactly an earthshattering revelation but one that I often conveinently forget. I was reminded this morning that our perspective and emotions about ourselves set the tone for how we deal with life and that it can keep us from creating the life we want.

The situation in my life that always seems to stymie me to paralysis is my finances. Now let me just say how ironic this is. It is ironic because I am an accountant by trade. I make my living essentially reconciling bank accounts, paying the company bills, etc. So this irony isn’t lost on me. It seems no matter what I do, things just don’t seem to get better, if anything they either get worse or just stay the same. It is something that can keep me up at night and make me a knot of nerves and adds to my stress level. Let me just say here as a woman in perimenopause, stress is the last thing I need.

Today as I was thinking about this in the shower (I get a lot of great ideas in the shower), I had one of those lightbulb moments. I finally made a connection that I guess should be obvious but was a real revelation for me. I realized that I am so ashamed of my financial situation it makes it difficult to even look at my finances with anything close to a rational perspective. When I looked up shame in on one of the definitions hit a chord with me. It said that shame is “a painful emotion caused by the consciousness of guilt…..” Wow! Knowing how damaging guilt can be, no wonder my money issues seem like a wall I just can’t seem to scale. I also realized part of letting go of the shame and this mindset of guilt is forgiving myself.

We all know forgiveness is the key to moving forward in our life and yet how often we find it easier to forgive others than we do ourselves. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than other people. I know I could easily forgive someone else messing up my finances but not so much forgive myself for the same thing. There is something about this insight that makes me sad in a way. Sad because I realize how harsh I have judged myself in this area of my life. Sad because I know I would never judge another person that way. So, now I begin the work of forgiving myself, not sure exactly what that will look like. However, I do believe knowledge is power or I should say, empowerment.

What about you? Is there an area in your life where shame is blocking you from healing and wholeness?  Are you ready to forgive yourself? My prayer is that you are. Life is too short to live in shame.


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An Unexpected Gift

Sometimes life takes rather interesting turns. The unexpected comes and surprises us with a gift. Such is what happened to me about a month ago. I had a chance to find out if I had really forgiven someone. Not just forgive them but invite them back into my life. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing but it isn’t always easy. My theory is that it may be less complicated to forgive someone you have no chance of seeing again because there is no risk of being hurt again. Since they are not coming back into your life, you don’t have to make the choice of letting them back in so, essentially, there is no risk. However, it is a trickier matter when they do come back into your life and you decide to let them back in.

After all, aren’t you in a very real sense risking being hurt again to let them back in?
That is the situation I found myself in about a month ago. It all started with a letter. A simple letter filled with a heartfelt apology. Now the letter didn’t request contact, in fact it stated quite clearly they had no expectation of contact. They were making the effort to make amends, no matter the outcome. So much went through my mind reading that letter, the most surprising thing was whatever anger, hurt I thought I still had was gone. I didn’t hold it against them anymore. Somewhere along the way, I had let go of the past hurt and moved forward. My heart cracked open and all I could feel was joy. My spirit felt lighter and I couldn’t grab pen and paper fast enough. In that moment, I had only vague memory of the pain but could only remember the gifts and benefits that the friendship had brought into my life.

All this isn’t to say that I didn’t have a doubt or two in the back of my mind. I didn’t make the choice to let this person back in to my life unconsciously. It is just that when measuring the pros and cons, the pros far outweighed any doubt I may have had. It was also a reminder that life is like the spiral I talked about in my previous blog. Here we are on another turn of the spiral. A new opportunity to bring all the wisdom and gifts from our previous turn on the spiral forward with the intention of creating something better, deeper and stronger than before.

Yes, there is always the risk. The risk of being hurt again, the risk of having it fall apart. In my experience though, it is only when I risk what may be dear to me, that I fully reap the rewards. Sometimes the risk pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. I think the big difference is what I have mentioned in previous blogs, awareness. I go into this with eyes wide open and with my heart wide open too. That was a state of being I had no awareness of previously. I am looking forward to see what difference it makes as I go forward on this part of the journey. Every turn on the spiral teaches a lesson, offers its own unique wisdom. The only job any of us has is to simply allow ourselves the journey.

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Life is a Spiral Not a Straight Line, Part 2

To summarize where we left off, I wrote about how the image of the spiral gave me a whole new perspective on where I found myself in my life and a perspective on the past. A sense of relief that there was a purpose to why I felt drawn back to a spiritual tradition that often time left me feeling frustrated and confused. The image of the spiral shows me that there is no such thing as moving backwards, you can only move along the spiral in cyclical motion.

A spiral is circular but the circles are cyclical in nature. In a spiral you never repeat a circle, you simply wind up at the same point but in a new circle that is connected to all the others.  The cycles continue to turn. They don’t ever disconnect form each other. The spiral continues to move in circular motion.

When life is like a spiral, what may seem like a repeat of a past mistake is really a new cycle, a new opportunity. In this new cycle, you bring with you all the experiences and lessons of the previous cycles. All that wisdom is available to you if you choose to use it. Let me explain it in this way, anytime we come across what we may perceive as a repeat of a past mistake, it is a new opportunity to experience that event in a new way. We can choose to do what we did last time or we can choose to do something new, something different. We always have a choice.

In our humanness we often perceive things in a more linear way. We forget that there is a much bigger picture that we fit into. The spiral teaches us that there is something much deeper and larger at work. We are in constant motion, we move around the spiral that is our life. The events that seemingly repeat are the opportunity to put into practice all that we learn along the way. We can let go of the perception of the past, the perception of making mistakes and embrace the ability to choose how we experience the current cycle we find ourselves in. We can do this because we know that no matter what happens we will always have the opportunity to do things differently at another point along the spiral.

So in this cycle where I find myself drawn back to a place I thought I left behind. I realize that I never really left it behind. I brought the wisdom from the previous cycles with me that I can now use however I choose, I can do that experience the same way I did before, if that is my choice. There is no shame in going through an experience over and over if we consciously choose to. For we never really repeat the experience in the same way even though that may be our perception. However, I can also choose to form a new experience using the lessons from the past, knowing that the cycle of the spiral will bring me back to this point in the future providing yet another opportunity to create my life.

So the next time you feel like you are repeating a past experience, pause for a moment and call up the image of the spiral. What are you choosing? What do you feel called to do? Whether to “repeat” the experience or go through it in a different way is not so much the issue, only do so consciously, with awareness. Knowing that whatever your choice, you will have the opportunity again in another cycle on the wheel.


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And now we interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for the rant of the day:

I don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law, God laughing when you make plans or just one of those times when you just wish going back in time was possible. Last night I was getting ready to write part 2 on my blog and what do I see when I turn on my computer………….a black screen with a message in white letters stating my computer did not restart properly, blah, blah, blah. No problem just pick the option to restart and all will be well, no worries. Yes worries!!!! It wouldn’t restart. Tried it several times and as I tried to remember to take deep calming breaths as I did a full system restore. Tried not to have a heart attack as I tried to figure where my files went to. As I sat there trying to reinstall my anti-virus software, I cursed the day computers were created.

How did it get to this point where this a metal box not working could send you into a cold sweat? I ask you, why do we pay homage at the altar of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates by even having one of these in our homes? Do I really need the world wide web? Do I really need to know about the klepto cat in San Mateo or what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast? Do I really need to shop at a store half-way across the country when I could just drive 5 minutes down the road? Are my 121 friends on Facebook really interested that I had a vanilla latte on the way to work? Think of all the time we would save, the mind clutter we could clear out if we were not tied to our electrical shackles 24-7.

I say it is time for a revolution, to break free. To say we are not going to take it anymore. Tune in to my Facebook page to see how the revolution is going.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

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Life Is a Spiral, Not a Straight Line, Part 1

I am not the most prolific blogger, in case you couldn’t tell. As usual, life has a way to getting in the way of good intentions. I have been pondering this idea of life being a spiral for a while now. Like most ideas for my blogs, this thought really came to me as a bit of an epiphany. It’s like you are out mowing the lawn one day and get this fantastic insight into achieving world peace or something. Ok, my blog is not going to bring about world peace, but if it does bring a bit of peace to your own soul or at least give you some food for thought, I think that makes the effort to blog worth it.

It wasn’t long ago that I was feeling frustrated and angry at myself. My sense, at the time, was that I was repeating an old pattern. As I have said in one of my previous blogs, I come from a very traditional religious background. Back in 2008 I had a massive paradigm shift. I was sitting in church one day when a voice in my head (loudly) said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I left the church with no real plans to return. Let me just be clear, I left church but not God. If anything, leaving church made me more determined in defining what “God” is for me and how it fits into the big picture of my life. The fact of the matter is I have done this many times before. Throughout my late teens into my adult years there was this underlying sense that I was missing something, there was some thing out there that I needed to find that would make my life make sense. I would get a break from it for awhile, throw myself into church but then I would feel this restlessness take hold.

I would drift away from church, then come back months or years later. I would follow this pattern over and over. Each time I would come back and think if I just tried harder, had a bit more faith, this thing that drove me in and out of church would go away but it never really did. This last time felt different though. I honestly never pictured myself going back. Going back would be a step back not forward. Imagine my surprise a few months ago when that old sense of restlessness took hold and I found myself being drawn back to church. It felt overwhelming, like a wave that I was drowning in. I missed the people, the sense of community, I missed the “culture” of church, I missed the music, the bible study, all of it. Even though it often left me feeling empty and frustrated, there was a longing for it. I was not happy about it. I was taking a step backwards. How did I get here? Why was this happening? On a lovely Saturday morning as I was mowing the lawn, I had what is properly known as the light bulb moment.

At that moment I saw an image of a spiral. In that moment, I realized that I could not take a step back even if I wanted to. I could not take a step back because there was nothing to step back to. I was walking the spiral and each ring of the spiral simply meant a new cycle. I could literally feel my energy shift and for the first time in weeks, I could take a deep breath. In those few moments in my backyard, the image of the spiral changed my whole perspective about my past and the future. I also realized that there are not “mistakes” in life, only opportunities.

Yes, I am leaving you hanging and I apologize about that, but this is a blog not an online novel. That and I do actually have a day job. I am pretty sure blogging does not qualify as a reason to ask for a day off.  

I will post part 2 tomorrow night so until then my friends.

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We Always Have A Choice

As human beings we have the potential to disentangle ourselves from old habits, and the potential to love and care about each other. We have the capacity to wake up and live consciously, but, you may have noticed, we also have a strong inclination to stay asleep. It’s as if we are always at a crossroad, continuously choosing which way to go. Moment by moment we can choose to go toward further clarity and happiness or toward confusion and pain…

Taking the leap involves making a commitment to ourselves and to the earth itself–making a commitment to let go of old grudges, to not avoid people and situations and emotions that make us feel uneasy, to not cling to our fears, our closedmindedness, our hardheartedness, our hesitation. Now is the time to develop trust in our basic goodness and the basic goodness of our sisters and brothers on this earth; a time to develop confidence in our ability to drop our old ways of staying stuck and to choose wisely. We could do that right here and right now. 

– Pema Chodron, “Taking the Leap” 

The above quote found its way to me through a newsletter I received in my inbox this morning. It was a good reminder for me because I have found myself slipping into that whole “victim” mentality that says we have no control over our circumstance, our thoughts, our emotions. Deep down most of us know this is not true, we always have a choice.

We can choose to see the events in our lives as an experience to be learned from even when it involves great physical or emotional pain. The lesson sometimes takes to time to unfold and the wisdom time to take hold but we do find our way there eventually. We can also choose the opposite of that and see things as random occurances with little to no meaning for us, keeping ourselves in the mode of victim. Victim of ourselves or a vengeful random “other” out there wanting to mess with us and we cower in our literal and psychological corner reacting rather than living.

At this moment I am grateful for the timely reminder that there is a better way than cowering in a corner. A better way to be, with arms open, breathing in deep the experience we call life. I know I have some inner work to do in order to walk that better way, how about you? How will you choose to view the events that take place in your life?

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Resolution on New Year’s Resolutions

Here I am on my rather sporadic blog. I think I finally accept the fact that I set up to many high expectations and obligations for myself which is why I am writing today. It is a 2011!! Wow! Do you have your resolution lists written yet?

Yes, my topic is on New Year’s resolutions. That perennial exercise we all seem to do at the end/beginning of every year. Let me suggest something rather revolutionary in our goal oriented society. How about if you scrap the list for just this once? What would happen if you simply allowed the year to unfold before you? What if the only “resolution” you set was the intention to allow yourself to experience the year in each moment that unfolds before you?

I have nothing against goals and yes it helps to set a blueprint in order to accomplish certain things. However, our society is not exactly based on a balanced, harmonious approach to life. We are a society of extremes. If “a little is a good then a lot must be better” seems to be the overriding mantra of our society. So we create these laundry list of things that must be accomplished within a 365 day period. Our sense of value and worth seems to rely on tick marks next to a line item on a sheet of paper (or word document, excel spreadsheet, etc.)

Well, I have decided to step off that merry-go-round and instead set the intention to find the joy and magic in each moment. 2011 is a blank slate, and instead of already filling it in with goals and activities that need to be accomplished, the only thing I want to see on each day of the calendar is joy and magic. I rather like the idea of allowing the year to be an unknown quantity and seeing how joy and magic turn up. How about you?

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