One of my favorite things about my daughter is how much she loves to have fun. She is a fun seeking missile. A blood hound hot on the trail! She reminds me always that life is more fun if you join in and go with the flow rather than cautiously open the door and throw in your list of demands.
Over the last few weeks of family visits and Holiday bustle, I saw her as a kind of fun collecting butterfly. She floats around and gathers up the fun in all the flowers she finds. She watches X Factor and American Idol videos with my Mom, helps me out in the kitchen, plays football with her cousins, and relaxes on the couch with my husband watching sports. She is so adaptable to what makes others happy and finds enjoyment in just sharing in that activity, whatever it may be.
She has a very Zen, go with the flow methodology. I almost never hear her say things like, “Okay, I’ll play but only if I get to be the car” or “I really don’t like this game, but I’ll try it.” She just doesn’t put those kind of restrictions on things. No, that girls hears laughter and she is off like a shot to get in the middle of the action.
Watching her has shown me that joining in the happiness is an activity in and of itself. Whatever happens while you are doing that is just the backdrop. Enter into your life with an open heart and fully expect to have a great time. It sure beats cautiously observing and expecting disappointment!
I have been thinking a LOT about forgiveness lately. I realized I have always thought of forgiving someone as kind of doing them a favor. In a sense I felt if I forgave someone for what they had done, I was implying that what they did to me was okay. Crossing out the karmic debt so to speak. As I followed this trail of logic, forgiving someone meant I would never receive the atonement that felt so justly deserved. That is where I believe I got stuck (for a like my whole life)!
Slowly, I have realized that my investment in the belief that somehow I have been damaged by another person’s actions had to go in order for me to forgive. I needed to make my way to a place where I could see these beliefs of past injustice as stories I was telling to myself and the people around me. How?
Well, it is a process that probably looks different for everybody. One of the ways I have been practicing this is to tell my stories from a different perspective. I imagine myself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand their motivation for the actions they chose. I even imagine myself as a stranger watching and guess how it would appear to them. This has helped a lot, but often I was still very attached emotionally to these stories. I tried writing a forgiveness letter, spilling all of the hurtful things this person had done to me. I called them all kinds of names and went into immense detail about how my life was negatively affected by all they had done and neglected to do. Once the letter was written a switch was somehow flipped inside of me. I saw all of it as literally words on a page. This whole tragic story that I have been telling and retelling is one that I can walk away from. I can find a new story to tell of love, joy, hope, perseverance, or whatever I choose. I also get to take back the power and energy I have been giving to that story for years. Let me tell you, that feels great!
I just need to let go of my need to be right.
Imagine all of the times you have walked away from an interaction with some one at work, another driver on the road, or a close family member knowing deep down the other person was dead wrong! That guy on the highway who flipped you the bird, obviously an aggressive loser. The quiet girl at work who is always screwing up and then denying it? It’s no secret that she is trying to set you up for her mistakes. The passing comment from your Mother about how nice the meal was last Thanksgiving at your Brother’s house (cooked by her daughter-in-law). Clearly a passive aggressive shot at you and your cooking skills. What if you could stop caring that you were right and the other person is out to get you, lying, hurtful, etc.? What if it was just stuff that happened and didn’t mean anything about who you are as a person? What if you could stop burning the midnight oil trying to find a way to spin these events into stories about how right you are and how wrong the other person is?
Well then, you could probably turn to your mother and say, “You know what, you’re right. Thanksgiving was extra fabulous last year. Pass the gravy.” You might even be able to mean it!
I couldn’t resist!
Wasn’t there somebody who said that when they decided to give up gossip they had nothing to say for weeks? Okay, so maybe that’s pretty hard-core. I think it’s more realistic for most of us to set an intention and then notice how it feels when we don’t follow through on that intention. Not in a self bashing, guilty way but really just asking, “How does it feel?” I used to get so aggravated in yoga class when the teacher would say, “Just notice how your body feels today.” I thought this was so redundant and just mindless yoga chatter. Now I can see the wisdom of noticing without judgment. Those yoga teachers – always slipping in the life lessons!
Feelings are our guide to whether we are on track with our thoughts and actions or not. We shouldn’t dwell on the guilt, frustration, whatever, just acknowledge it and determine the action that produced it. Then we can decide if we want to continue doing or thinking whatever it is that caused us to feel bad.
In preparation for my night school class I found a quote from Dr. Daniel G. Amen,
“Don’t believe everything you hear, even in your own mind.”
Those run away thought trains that take us to dark places of self blame and shame are a journey we can choose not to make. Why not tell yourself something positive instead. Honestly, lose the drama! Trust me, it is so relaxing to get off the crazy train and just say, “I’m human. Sometimes I don’t do things perfectly, but I can learn from my mistakes.”