Forgiveness — the rest of the story …

“… what fools these mortals be!”
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115

Well … not exactly fools, but we certainly do behave foolishly sometimes. Here is a case in point.

We love to remember and relive past glories and successes — just listen to any high school football star or homecoming queen. But even more than that we seem to love to remember and cling to past fears, angers, hurts, and perceived failures — either our own or those of others. This makes me wonder if we sometimes boast to ourselves and others about our past glories and successes to hide the fears and angers and hurts we cling to with such determination.

Last time I wrote about forgiveness … and this is the promised follow-up post on releasing. To be honest I’m not sure which is more difficult — and so often neither of them is very easy.

The psychologists have lots of suggestions for how to release old hurts and angers towards others. They recommend talking it out with the other person if possible. And so often it is not possible to talk things out, either because of your fears, their anger, or any one of a multitude of other reasons. In those cases, they recommend releasing things by other, more indirect means.

One such method is to write a letter to the person (a letter that may or may not be delivered) in which you pour out your heart, along all of the hurts and angers you feel towards that person. In this letter you can also really wallow in all of the negative things you see in this person, spell out every misdeed you wish to express, etc. This is a very effective thing to do. Write it all out — get it all out of your system, and read what you’ve written as often as you need to until you don’t feel attached to these things any more. Then burn the letter, throw it away, do whatever you need to do to get rid of it so you release all of that energy and let go of what is contained in the letter. (One note: I recommend NOT putting all of this in an email. It is way too easy to hit the send button by mistake — and then you could end up with a whole lot more to wade through.) Once you’ve released everything and destroyed whatever it is you’ve created, forgive them — forgive them as much as you are able in that moment. You can always come back and forgive more later.

Another variation on that theme is to sit opposite an empty chair and let it all out. Say everything you wish you could say to the other person … really belt it out. In the process do what you need to do — yell, scream, cry. Whatever it takes to release all of that pent up negativity and anger. And this works, too. I’ve done it myself.

And the beauty of it is that these methods work just as well for releasing things we feel within ourselves about ourselves. Write yourself a letter, get a notebook and write it all out as it comes to you. And if you need to talk to yourself, you can use a mirror instead of an empty chair.

These are great methods and very effective. And if you look on the Internet, you will find tons of other ideas. But what I would like to suggest is that they only do half the job. I have found two follow up steps to be very healing and supportive. They complete the cycle for me.

The first follow-up step is this. Whether you are writing things out or talking things out in one way or another, do a follow up letter or conversation in which you detail every good and kind and wonderful thing you can think of about the other person or about yourself. Don’t leave it all on a note of anger. Leave it on a note of joy and happiness and clearing.

You may be reading this and thinking, “Yeah … right … like I can find something positive to say about that @3$*()%(^7 person.” But the truth is if you really really look you will be able to find at least one positive thing to say, even if it is only to say, “I have to admit, @3$*()%(^7 is really, really good at making a mess.” It isn’t quite what I would hope for but it is at least something more or less positive. What I have found when I do this is once I come up with one positive thing, I find a lot more.

And the second follow up step is very simple. Say “Thank you.” Express your gratitude for the things others have done — positive and negative in your view — for all of these things have at a minimum given you opportunities to learn, grow and explore. Express your thanks for them being who and what they are — the good, the bad, and the ugly parts.

So short summary:

Forgiveness
Release
Gratitude

Sorry it took me so many words to get there.

Copyright 2012 ConnieJean Maven (and the person writing under this pen name)

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