Tag Archives: letting go of judgment

True Forgiveness.

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I did a search of my blog today, using the word “forgiveness” as my word, to see if I had written about it before.  Five blogs came up, from the last 9 or so years, that had the word “forgiveness” in the title.  It is something that has been on my mind quite frequently over the last three years or so in particular.  And, the beauty of it is that my understanding of what forgiveness really is keeps evolving and changing for me.

 

I have defined forgiveness as release, acceptance, as letting go of judgment of others.  And, all of that remains true.  However, as I sat quietly this morning and did some reading, I realized that I have a new, higher level of understanding of what forgiveness means for me.

 

For me, true forgiveness means two main things.  First of all, it means that I forgive you for not being who I think you are, or want you to be.  Ultimately, as human beings, we are all unknowable.  No matter what I think that I know about my wife, my son, my friends or my coworkers, all that I “know” about them is just a story.  It is both a story that they tell me about themselves, and/or a story that I tell myself about them, based on my assumptions and beliefs.  So to practice true forgiveness, it seems, I have to begin by forgiving you for not being who I think that you are or should be.  If I am able to do that, then that means that I won’t take anything that you say or do personally, and I can more easily accept who you are, just as you are.  

 

It seems that the second component of true forgiveness is forgiving myself.  I get to forgive myself for having expectations, judgments and stories about the people in my world.  And, I also get to forgive myself, for having expectations, judgments and stories about myself.  Indeed, it I don’t forgive myself each time, I will feel even more prone to judging or having expectations of others.  That is because I will have full faith and belief in the story about that person or myself, so more likely to judge accordingly.  When I start from a place of forgiveness, it helps to let go of my expectations more quickly.

 

The other important aspect of true forgiveness, for me, is that it is gentle in its nature. When I judge another person, or myself, it only creates more damage, both in myself and the Universe, if I criticize or belittle myself for the stories that I have.  When I bestow forgiveness on myself and others, I can do so with no residue, so that it can feel clean, clear and loving.  I deserve that, as do the people that I encounter in the world.

 

Forgiveness is not just about setting others free from my judgments.  When I forgive, I set myself completely free as well.

 

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My Rules for Life.

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I have been a writer the majority of my life.  Whether I was writing stories, papers, or my blog, it has been an integral part of my life forever.  This past summer, I started writing in a journal, every day, which I had not done in many years.  I am still writing in it daily, and over the last few months have jotted down ideas that I had thought of, or read about, that seem to be the template from which I view life these days.  I am calling them my rules for life.  

 

  1.  The past does not matter; every moment is a new beginning.
  2. You know your path.
  3. You know who you really are.
  4. You will keep awakening.
  5. Be in the moment.
  6. Pay attention- signs are all around you.
  7. Stay open.
  8. Dig your own well; you have the tools, freedom, choice.
  9. You are NOT a victim.
  10. Keep creating; the possibilities are endless.
  11. Guilt serves no good purpose.
  12. Our thought processes are in our control and can ALWAYS  be changed.
  13. Be abundant with forgiving yourself; see your true beauty and innocence.
  14. Love yourself as deeply as you can; when you can look upon yourself with eyes of love, you can love others more easily for who they are as well.
  15. Guilt is at the root of all that kills- body, mind, soul and spirit.
  16. Every encounter is a gathering of wisdom.
  17. Trust your inner knowing- that is your spiritual path.
  18. Express gratitude for what you have every day.
  19. Be impeccable with your word.
  20. Do not take others and the world personally.
  21. Don’t assume.
  22. Always do your best.
  23. In the forgetting, I get to keep awakening.
  24. Shine your light, without apology or self consciousness, without comparing it to others.
  25. We are all part of the same light, the same source.

Cumulative Effects.

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This morning, I woke up thinking about the fact that, at any given moment, I have a choice in how I respond to life and my life situation.  Regardless of any beliefs that I possess, or my past experiences, I always get to choose my response.  Sometimes, of course, I am not consciously aware of my ability to choose, but it is always there.  

 

On my most occasions recently, I believe that to be true, my ability to choose.  But, one thing that makes me think I don’t have a choice, is something I call cumulative effect.  

 

So, in any given situation, I respond according to my past experiences. I recognize, or not, the situation based on a past experience.  Then, I tell myself a story in my mind about what the situation is, even though much of that can’t be known.  Then, I seal the story away in my memory, whether or not it is accurate.  It becomes a story that we keep. Over time, those stories, of what I think I know about the world, accumulate, and the total effects color the way that we see the world right now.

 

For example, I have a terrible discomfort about clowns.  Yes, clowns.  I feel creeped out, for lack of a better word, when I see a clown.  I don’t know where this story started in my supposed memory, but somewhere along the line, I experienced fear of some kind around them.  And, at 53 years old, I still don’t like them.  That is cumulative effect.  It lasts a lifetime, or so we think.

 

The brilliant news is that the effect does not have to last any longer than we want it to.  I know that sounds crazy; how can we let go of something that has been with us that long?  That seems to have formed the very person I am now?  What do I do?

 

Well, it can be done, but what we have learned our whole lives can be hard to unlearn.  So we just try to let it go.  What works for me is to remember that every life experience that I go through, I have a story about it.  And that is all my memory is to me:  a story.  I have no way of knowing the validity of it.  But I only have to believe it until I don’t.  Every moment is a new beginning; a new opportunity to see the world in all of its unique qualities.

 

For me, it is much more difficult to judge a person or situation, if I am just taking it in, as it is, in the moment.  If I am letting go of the past, meaning not bringing my stories along; and if I am not focusing on the future, or trying to predict how it will turn out, then I am able to allow the situation to just be, and therefore, more easily accept it.

 

I know that humans who feel that they are their past is how we are taught; and so I know that the past stories that many of us have feel very real and have a deep impact on our lives.  I work with people every day in my job whose past stories have made terrible messes in their lives, and created a great deal of pain.  Yet, the stories don’t own us.  They are not the truth.  The here and now is the only truth.

 

When my identity has been my past and my future, to change my thinking is a daily workout.  I am choosing more moments of presence and fewer being focused on past or future.  But, I know that even if I still have past pains that I am not ready to let go, I don’t have to accumulate any additional stories to add.  I can do my best to be here, in the moment.

 

Right Now.

 

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The Miracle of Letting Go and Acceptance.

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There has been so much going on in my life in the last few months, exciting, fun, as well as challenging and deep. I have gotten married; supported my teen through some difficult moments, and started planning a move to the south. In the most recent days, I have remembered again the gift there is in letting go and accepting what is.

My desire to hold onto things, situations, people or circumstances, comes from a couple very specific areas of my being. First, it is almost always an attempt to control the world around me. For me, control has been something that I have struggled with much of my life, wanting to have it when I felt I was out of control. This control has done its share in breaking down relationships in the past, and the need for it is based in nothing of substance.

Another reason I want to hold tight to things is that, especially in situations when I feel powerless, I want to at least do SOMETHING. I want to feel needed, of use to someone or something, or at least feel like in a difficult situation there is something that can be done, and I usually want to be the one to do it.

The one that may be the most powerful reason for wanting to hold on tightly to things in this world, is that I often have my own agenda, my own expectations about the way that I want my life to go or for things to work out. I want the wedding plans to go a certain way; I want my teen to choose this school or major; I want my job to be this certain way for me. Me, me, me. I know many of us can identify, and I don’t say these things as a way to criticize myself; it is just the way it is for much of the human psyche.

The beautiful thing that I get to remember, when it is that I do remember, is that in the letting go, in the acceptance of how things are in this moment, there is complete peace. Even if only for a moment, and there are many instances when I only experience this for a brief moment in time, I feel at ease, because there is nothing that I need to do, no one that I need to save, no expectation or bias that I need to cater to. I can just look upon the world with gentle eyes and accept it for what IS.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be difficult times in my life, of course there will. It doesn’t even mean that those difficult times won’t fill me with deep sorrow, anger, or remorse of some sort. However, the more often that I can accept the present moment as it is, and be with it, no matter what it feels like, the more likely that I can be peaceful throughout it. And, it is also highly likely that I will judge others less often if I am accepting the world as it is.

You see, I am more and more often seeing the world with soft, gentle eyes, and therefore being able to see the beauty within it. The peace that rises in me when I am able to do this is tremendous. When I let go, and when I accept the world as it is, without judgment or authority, that is true surrender. That is what brings me peace.

That is the miracle.

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Joining and Finding Sameness.

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We are spending our honeymoon on Tybee Island, in coastal Georgia. The scenery is breathtaking, the air is hot, and there is a slow pace to the world here. We are thoroughly enjoying it. Yet, before we came, and while we have been here, we have both had moments when we felt concerned about being so far south, in a time when there still remains negativity in the world about two women marrying one another. Without making too many assumptions, we believed that we might encounter less acceptance here. So, we have been more timid about declaring ourselves to the world. What I mean by that is, I want to shout “We just got married! We are on our honeymoon!” from every rooftop; I want to tell our wait staff in restaurants, and people that sit near us by the pool, because I feel so happy. Yet, I don’t. I assume that we are among people that would not be accepting of us.

I thought about this more deeply yesterday, and realized that even though I believe that to be true, I don’t know for sure that we would be met with nonacceptance here. I know that my assumptions come directly from my fears about the unknown, and my perceptions of what I believe to be true, without really giving others a chance. It is yet another way for me to see the difference I have from others rather than our sameness.

In order for me to be peaceful, truly peaceful, is to remember and see the sameness with each person that I encounter. That is not always easy. The sneaky part of myself wants to see the difference I have from others, so that I can feel better than and have permission to judge them. When I sit at the pool, I can observe others with their children and feel better than because they spank their kids, and I never spanked my own. Yet, when I do that, I separate from others, I don’t join with them. I see such difference in us that I feel like I have to put one of us above the other.

My only path to peace is to see our sameness. It is there, really. We don’t have to look hard for it, because if we are looking at the outside form of someone- their bodies, actions, social status- that is an illusion of what difference there is between us. The real joining comes when we remember that we all come from the same source of light, that we are ALL that light. And that is what makes us universal.

The peace is in the joining. And I feel grateful that I get to keep remembering that, moment by moment every day.

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