Tag Archives: forgiveness

Monday’s Meditation: On Passing Judgment On Our Past Decisions

Monday, July 17, 2017

I’ve made a handful of regrettable decisions in my life; who hasn’t?

I’ve chosen people to be friends with that were toxic and leached off of my stability. 

I acted flippantly with many boys’ hearts (Biggest Flirt in high school four years running right here). 

I know that over the years I’ve said things that, were I to recall them, would leave me cringing deeply.

I most certainly chose the wrong college to attend. I mean the one that was so, so wrong for me on every level in the most obvious of ways. And then I merely survived my years there.

I forgot my best friend’s birthday one year, a fact which haunts me to this day. Even though I didn’t technically forget, because I sent a card in advance of it, but then let the actual day slide right by without acknowledgment.

I took on one truly terrible, miserable, no good client. Or make that one and a half.

Regret is a funny thing. It’s an emotion we all feel about various decisions in our pasts from time to time, yet in principle, we know better than to invest in.

We understand on some level that regardless of what went down in the past or how, or what terribly uncouth comment we made, or hideous shirt we wore every third day of third grade (seriously, why?), our past is the path we took to get where we are today. And today we are alive, so all things considered, it’s the best place to be.

Beyond that, the reason why regret cannot be substantiated is that it involves passing judgment in the present over decisions made in the past. Nothing could be more unfair.

We have information now that we didn’t then. We have acquired wisdom we didn’t yet possess in the past. We are now (hopefully) fuller, more expressed, more loving versions of ourselves than we used to be. Of course it’s easy to sit on our high horses of everything-we-know-today and pass judgment on our sophomoric selves of yesterday. 

Regret cannot and will not rectify what has passed. And since nothing that has passed is alterable, regret merely manages to keep us trapped in a state of self-hatred, shame, and negativity. 

Our power to change the past is limited to the opportunity we have to view it differently, and to do that we must move from regret to forgiveness. 

Regret shames and shuns; forgiveness reminds us what necessary lessons were born from our past experiences.

Regret punishes us for not being good enough or experienced enough; forgiveness tells us we did our best. 

Regret keeps us focused on what was; forgiveness paves the way for could be.

We are born to grow. We are here to evolve into our most fully expressed, loving selves. And the path to get to that state is thorny and untamed. We aren’t gaily frolicking down a paved road, here. We’re off-roading it through the brambles, and learning which plants are prickly as we go. 

 

Monday’s Meditation: On Mistakes & Punishment

Monday, June 8, 2015

Why punishing yourself for making a mistake is the worst possible thing you can do.

We all, it turns out, make mistakes.

We mess up big time. We disappoint those we care about most and ourselves. We act without thinking, we speak without thinking, we abandon patience and compassion. We don’t honor our commitments, don’t give sufficient thought to how our actions will affect others.

Afterwards, when we’ve come to our senses, when we’ve realized how our choices have impacted those we care about, then we will punish ourselves mercilessly.

Sometimes the mistakes we make are not doing wrong but in allowing others to do wrong by us.

We make the mistake of naivety and in so doing open ourselves up to all manner of being taken advantage of. We make the mistake of being overly agreeable and end up sacrificing our wellbeing in the process.

Someone makes a request of us and even as every neuron is silently firing off a magnificent, “OH, NO WAY IN HAHLLL!” We make the mistake of hurriedly saying “Oh, yes, sure, no problem-o!”

Afterwards, when the words, memorized in our minds with taunting verbatim, echo repeatedly; when the reality of how we have allowed ourselves to be comprised sinks in; when we link others’ wrongdoing to our own foolish behaviors; then we will punish ourselves mercilessly.

We are good people, after all. We are, no matter what we claim to the contrary, tender spirits awash in wanting to do good, be happy–spread both of those things.

And in the quiet of our insides that no one else may be privy to, most of us in that moment of realization feel like rotten schoolchildren, so ashamed we can’t think of anything to do but beg our headmaster for his most severe punishment yet.

“Tell me how I’m the worst!” We scream.

“Make me listen to all the ways I’m going to be a big, fat failure; go on, do it!”

“Take away all the things I love–I don’t deserve them now. All those A’s? Down the toilet. Just write a giant F on my file and call it a day.”

We might have made a mistake. But punishing ourselves is more of one.

There is no inherent merit in self-punishment. In fact, punishing ourselves for our mistakes might be the least productive thing we can do.

Punishing ourselves doesn’t atone for our actions; feeling like you’re the worst is not the same as saying “I’m sorry, truly.” And, “Please forgive me.”  

Punishing ourselves doesn’t rectify a situation; it doesn’t, no matter how much we yearn to be able to, rewind time and provide us with a do-over.

Punishing ourselves does not allow us to recover, to see how we can improve in the future, to learn whatever we need to from what has happened.

Punishing ourselves accomplishes nothing, because what it does primarily is keep us stuck–trapped in the moment of mistake without the glimmering chance of rectification. 

If only we would lift our heads up just an inch or two from the ground–enough to look at others, the situation, ourselves, then we would see: keeping ourselves imprisoned in error is pointless. It doesn’t heal those we’ve hurt and it doesn’t heal the hurt we’ve incurred. It only prolongs the initial mistake. It only delays our return to our most effective, loving selves.

That’s the state the world needs us in, no matter what has happened, no matter how unfortunate it was.

If you wronged, make it right by asking for forgiveness.

If you were wronged, make it right by granting forgiveness.

In either case, it’s your duty to get out of self-pity and self-hatred as quickly as possible, so that you can get back to a place of goodness and giveness. Because your life is about more than just you.