Forgiveness Matters

Forgiveness is something that I think is often misunderstood and because of that, often overlooked or put on the back burner. However, it’s my firm belief that before healing can happen forgiveness must begin.

So, let’s talk about forgiveness.  First and foremost offering forgiveness is not, absolutely not condoning the incident which offended or hurt you. That’s really important, so I will repeat it. Forgiving does not mean saying that what occurred was alright! What forgiveness means is that you no longer feed energy into the pain, hurt; resistance and you allow healing to begin.

Ahhhh, we’re getting to the meat of the matter right off. Healing. That’s what forgiveness is all about, at least in my mind. Here’s how I see it.

Let’s create a scenario. Let’s say that someone has said something truly hurtful to me, hurtful enough to wound me deeply. Ouch! While I am hurting I find that I withdraw my energy. A bit like a turtle may pull his head into his shell to prevent further injury. Perhaps I go over the words, again and again, feeling the wound, reliving the words each time. It hurts!

As time goes by, I may well find myself becoming angry. Anger is not a bad thing, it’s simply an emotion and there are real and valid reasons to feel anger. For one thing, it’s got a higher vibration than the feelings of desolation and/or depression that I was likely feeling just one paragraph ago. It’s normal, reasonable and completely human to feel anger. But what to do with it? If I keep feeling it but do not express the anger, it can become very toxic. Stuffing the anger can actually make me sick, physically, and emotionally. The simple fact here, it is healthier for me to find a safe way to express that anger. When I feel the appropriate, healthy way to begin to release the anger, it’s a bit like pulling the plug for a water-filled tub. The resistance, strong energy begins to dissipate. Perhaps the turtle once again considers sticking his head out of his shell.

This is all part of the forgiveness process. I forgive so that I feel better. Simple as that. When I decide to forgive, and yes, for me it is often a very deliberate, conscious decision, I begin to feel better. That easier, more gentle feeling makes way for healing.

In the scenario painted above, I have been hurt. The words that were spoken may or may not be valid. Finding a healthy, safe way to release the resistance, the energy that is my anger, allows me to determine the truth or falsehood of the words spoken. That feels a bit better. Regardless of what I decide, I am still hurt by the words that were said to me. There’s work for me to do.

I begin by honestly acknowledging to myself that I have been hurt. For me, that can take a bit of work as I would really prefer to pretend that I’m too tough to be hurt by others. Not so, the truth is that I am as human as the next person. I’ve been hurt, I’ve gotten angry. Both acknowledged and felt. For me, the next step is to look for a blessing in this situation. This part really irks some people, and I get it, really I do. But I do believe that there is a blessing or a lesson if you prefer,  in each and every happening, even those which hurt us deeply. Again, returning to the above scenario, I would ask myself what the blessing or lesson looks like. Perhaps there was truth in the words expressed to me; can I learn from the words? Or it could be that the hurtful words were totally bogus, perhaps the lesson is that the person who uttered these falsehoods feels safe enough to express themselves to me. It could simply be that this person is not good for me and I need to say away from them. Maybe, none of these fit, I will search until I find what resonates with me.

Finding a blessing allows me to feel somewhat better; I begin to feel stronger as forgiveness begins. The energy that doesn’t feel very good, the resistance begins to be released, and healing is starting to happen.  That’s what forgiveness is, healing. The hurt, anger, bitterness energizes me in a way that feels pretty crummy to me, but finding a blessing, learning a lesson, deliberately deciding to look for a truth allows that icky energy, that resistance to begin to go away. Remember that water-filled tub I talked about above? Well, the plug isn’t all the way out, the tub isn’t empty. But the trickle has begun and it feels good. That’s what forgiveness is about, feeling better. And beginning to heal. This has not one thing to do with whether or not the person was justified in saying what they did. Not for one moment would I condone deliberately hurting someone with an untruth. But if the words were true, I can learn from them. If they were false, then I have taken the time to find the blessing, to learn a lesson.

Another little phrase that causes a lot of trouble is ‘forgive and forget’. I’m not a fan at all. My dog teaches me a very simple lesson about that because animals offer unconditional love. They get hurt, but they learn the lesson, forgive and move on. If I’m out walking with Indiana and he keeps walking in front of me, there’s a very good chance his foot will get stepped on. He learns the lesson, forgives and walks alongside me. But he doesn’t forget! He remembers that if he walks in front of me his toes will get smashed.

We can take a lesson from this. If forgetting serves us well, then we will forget in time, easily and effortlessly. However, if the words brought a lesson that we can use, by all means, keep it in your memory. Again, let’s return to the original scenario. If the words spoken to me were hurtful for the simple reason that person has their own ‘stuff’ to deal with, then I will likely remember and not put myself into a position to be hurt by them again. However, if the words were true and helpful, I may well remember them, learn from them and recall them when they are again helpful. Forgive; yes. Forget; only if it serves your best and highest good.

I’ve spoken about hurtful words because that seems to me to be the most common wound. But wounds come in all sorts. It could be the wound of a relationship that has ended, the death of someone you cared about, a car wreck or any number of other scenarios. The work is the same. It’s a step by step process. No one size fits all here. There is no timeline. The process may be very fast, a matter of moments, or it could be over years. Whatever is right for you is right.

What are you holding onto? Is there something that you are ready to begin healing from? Big or small, forgiveness is done for you, and it begins with that first step. When you are ready to begin healing, forgiveness is part of the process. And the turtle once again pokes his head out of his shell, going on about his life, wiser and more prepared to live today.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

Smile to Feel Better

One of my favorite movies is ‘Mary Poppins’, I’ve watched it countless times and I always tried to get my kids to watch it with me while they were growing up. Of that entire movie, my favorite scene, hands down is the scene where Uncle Albert is floating around near the ceiling laughing. You see his laughter has literally lifted him up! As the main characters watch him, they begin laughing, it’s so contagious that very soon they are all hanging out near the ceiling, telling awful jokes and having a jolly time. It makes me smile and begin laughing even to think about it. Of course, the song they sign is ‘I love to laugh’.

I’ve got to agree! I love to laugh, it makes me feel fabulous. Sometimes I swear that my mind is absolutely determined to make me smile no matter where I try to take it. For example, the other day I was participating in a group meditation. The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful. The woman who was leading the meditation had a calm, soothing voice. I was expecting an ” ohmmmmm’ experience. Didn’t happen. Instead, I had a really tough time repressing outright laughter. I kept seeing cartoon characters, speeding along, hopping and even poking out from the trees. It was absolutely delightful! I’ve never had so much fun during a meditation, I could hardly wait for the next time.

While it’s true that I smile, giggle, chuckle or even belly laugh when I’m happy, I also try to do one or more of those things when I’m not happy. Invariably it lifts me up, somewhat like Uncle Albert. It seems that I simply cannot stay depressed, angry or horribly sad if I smile just a little bit.

I’m not trying to say that a smile will take me from a wrenching sob to euphoria, but it will help me to feel incrementally better when I’m ready to make that first shift. If I need to express that sadness or grief than I stay away from old Abbott and Costello movies or Donald Duck cartoons. They change my mood very quickly.

So, what does this have to do with Reiki or holistic life coaching? Actually ,it goes directly to something I chat with each and every Reiki or coaching client about, and we do it during every single Reiki or coaching appointment. It goes right to self-care.

I am responsible for taking the best care of me. No one else can ensure that I eat right, exercise enough or de-stress so that the top of my head doesn’t come off. That’s my job. I’m the only person who knows when I need to have some quiet time, take a nap or visit friends. I expect my husband to respect what I tell him I need, but it’s my job to take care of me first.

Part of taking the best care of me is getting Reiki on a regular basis, speaking to other life coaches supports me as well. But everyday I need to laugh. It’s an absolute necessity for me. If I’m feeling low it lifts me up, if I already feel good, it helps me to feel terrific.

I raised my boys with the message that no matter how low they felt, a smile would make them feel better. In fact, I do recall that there is actual research that supports that theory. Love that!

So, for this week, I encourage you to give it a whirl. What have you got to lose but the blues? My favorite thought when I’m trying to muster a grin? I think of a sweet four year old child, trying to tell a knock-knock joke. Invariably they burst out laughing before they deliver the punch line. Just thinking of their gales of laughter always brings a smile to my face as well. Go ahead, give it a try. I bet you’re smiling already.

Namaste,

Sandy

Perfect, Just Perfect

There’s a book I’ve been reading for over a year. It’s less than 300 pages, which means it should be a book that I have easily read in a weekend. Not so much. I keep beginning the book over and over again. Several times it has hit me right between the eyes, or more accurately, it has hit the mark of my heart. I’m working on it again and this time I’m making much more progress.

The title is ‘Radical Forgiveness’ by Colin C. Tipping. The basic concept is that everything that happens in life is perfect. From opening my eyes in the morning to experiencing something that I might consider a tragedy is perfect on a soul level. This offers me great comfort at the same time that it challenges me tremendously.

I’ve decided that the reason I am drawn to this book, again and again, is that I believe it to be a most simple and profound truth. I’ve been sharing this idea with more of my Reiki and life coaching clients and I realize that many others share this belief on at least some level.

It’s a concept that is sometimes pretty tough to wrap my head around. After all, it’s much easier for me to simply slip into anger, frustration or blame when something happens that is not in my plans. When I stepped into something nasty the other day while picking tomatoes from the garden it was easy to see that there was a simple lesson for me. I could have avoided the situation by putting on shoes and next time that’s what I did. But what is perfect about someone being brutalized or worse? I’m not sure that I can answer that in a way that makes sense to me or to you. I believe that there is always a soul lesson for all who are involved. Learning what that lesson is and seeing the value is something that I am still working on, but I believe that it’s there and that it’s real.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long, possibly lifelong process for me. I have to admit that I’m both challenged and excited about this prospect. I’m excited to share this journey with my Reiki and life coaching clients as well as family, friends, and colleagues. This is far too exciting to keep to myself!

So, I’m going to keep working on it. I encourage you to either pick up the book for yourself or to at least spend a bit of time thinking about the concept. As for me, I find great comfort in the idea that there is someone I call God guiding me, sending teachers to me and offering me the lessons that my soul is requesting on a continual basis.

Wishing you a wonderful week, knowing that it will be perfect in whatever manner it unfolds.

Namaste,
Sandy

The Shack

I read a wonderful book the other day. It had been recommended and even loaned to me by one of my favorite life coaching clients. ‘The Shack’ by Wm. Paul Young spoke to me on many levels.

As a life coach, I encourage clients to acknowledge and appreciate their faith, if they do indeed believe in a higher power. This book tells the true story of a man who lived through a brutal childhood. Later he married and had children, settling into a wonderful if somewhat ordinary life. God, as he knew him, was pretty unavailable and not someone he felt that he could count on. Tragically this man experienced a horror that is every parent’s nightmare. Sometime later, this man is invited up to a place referred simply as the shack. During his time at the shack, his life changed forever.

I’m not going to tell you too much more because I do not believe I can do the story justice.

Reading this book helped me to deal with many questions. Maybe predictably, it prompted many more questions as well. Most of all it reminded me of the connection I feel with my God and reminded me that it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. It’s really pretty straightforward, a relationship of love and trust. Beginning, middle, and end.

Why do I feel the need to share this with you? Because I think we all need something that we believe in and depend upon. For me, this is my faith. Life coaching and Reiki have both helped me to become much clearer about my faith. Each has helped me to eliminate some of the junk that I always associated with faith. For me, this process has been simple yet incredibly profound.

I encourage both life coaching and Reiki clients to take a bit of time each day to meditate. Time to simply be. When I do this it helps me to clear my mind and open my heart to ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes these thoughts and feelings are new to me. Often they are old thoughts or emotions that I had sort of shelved in the past. Now when I give them a bit of time, they are more easily dealt with, as I simply ponder them from a detached point of view. I’m not consistent about meditating every day at a certain time or place, but I expect to get better about it with time. I know that it has served me well and I absolutely appreciate that fact.

For today I hope that you are able to take a few minutes to spend all by yourself in peace and quiet. Not thinking, just being. I hope that this will help you to find a bit of peace and guidance.

For a very good read which just may change your life, I strongly recommend reading ‘The Shack’. I know I’ll be buying several copies and keeping them on my lending bookshelf. This book is too important not to share, which is why I just shared with you.

Namaste,
Sandy

Let Your Emotions be Your Guide

They had an argument. In fact, she said it was pretty much a knock-down, drag-out fight, loud and ugly it left them both hurt and feeling cut-off from one another for the next 24 hours. Pretty unusual for them because they generally get along very well. Here’s where it gets interesting. She told me that she knew the day before that a real argument was coming with him, she could feel it.

As both a life coach and a Reiki practitioner, I strongly believe and work with my clients to understand the law of attraction. Quite simply that means that what we put our attention on, what we think about, what we expect, what we ‘know’ is going to happen will, in fact, come into our experience.

When we talked about this unfortunate argument she shared her thoughts the day before that an argument was about to happen. So, we talked about ways it could have been avoided. Oh, not the discussion. The subject they covered probably should have been addressed, but it could have been handled in their normal loving manner, quickly and easily.

We began with her thoughts and feelings the day prior to the fight. She was feeling great and was on top of the world. When she spoke with her husband he was not as supportive as she would have liked him to be and she was very disappointed. She noted how she felt and although she didn’t take the time to think about it at that very moment, she later realized that she had a few options. She could have reached for a slightly better feeling, possibly frustration as this would have begun the process of lessening her feeling bad. Instead, she became angry, which moved her to a feeling that made her feel even worse.

She held onto that anger all evening and by morning she had moved further on the emotional scale. Unfortunately, she hadn’t moved to a better feeling but instead to a worse feeling, insecurity, and guilt. In short, she was pretty much primed for that fight. She knew it was coming and she was bringing it on, not altogether unconsciously.

As we chatted, we talked about the emotional scale. It’s a tool that I find invaluable as a life coach, working with Reiki clients and of course in my everyday life. An awareness of how we feel is truly a very practical and easy guide and it helps us to take our lives in the direction that we truly want to move.

She talked about how her disappointment, anger, and insecurity had brought about the argument, then she moved onto ways it could have been a useful and productive discussion. As she talked through the event she began re-framing thoughts and comments in a manner which made her feel a bit better. Progress! This continued, the more she thought and discussed the more she repeatedly found ways to make small, incremental movement up the emotional scale. She was feeling better and better. She was able to re-frame the comments she heard as well as the comments she had made. In this way, she was able to forgive both herself and her husband as she realized that there is always more than one way to say and look at every situation.

We chatted a few days later. She had been very deliberately paying attention to her gut, how she felt as well as to her thoughts, were they negative or positive. When her feelings or thoughts were not pleasant she was taking the time to reach for that ever so slightly better feeling or thought. She was very excited with the progress that she was seeing. She noticed that when she was putting her attention on what she wanted rather than what she didn’t want that she was getting much more satisfying results.

Of course, I will continue to coach her to make this awareness of how she feels and what she is thinking a natural part of her life. It will become easier and easier.

For any of us, as we see positive results, we are encouraged to do more of what is bringing about those results. Success leads to success. Fabulous!

For today, I encourage you to really pay attention to how you are feeling during the day. When you make decisions or say something, how do you feel? What are you thinking? Become aware and reach for a better feeling and I feel very sure you will have a better day.

Namaste,
Sandy

Justice

One of my favorite authors is Don Miguel Ruiz. His book ‘The Four Agreements’ is a quick and easy read, only about 140 pages, but I think it’s deceptively simple. In fact, I think it’s quite profound. I read this book often, however, I find that when I listen to it on audio-book I notice and appreciate it in a whole new way.

Yesterday I was driving up to the lake and listening to this book once again. What struck me was what he had to say about justice. Let me put this into my own words and of course give you my point of view. Basically, he says that if there was justice regarding people, once we have made a mistake we would own it and move on. There would be no lingering guilt and no on-going recriminations. Wow, what a concept!

The truth is that my dog gets it. When I’m in a bad mood and he makes me a bit crazy I sometimes slip and shout at him. As soon as I realize what I’ve done and I apologize, offer him a snuggle and a rub behind the ears, Indy forgives me completely. He doesn’t bring it up every time I’m crabby, he doesn’t remind me that I was snotty next time he wants a treat and I don’t offer it up quick enough. In short, I hurt his feelings, I apologized, and Indy forgave. Nice.

The problem is that as humans we seem to operate with a different set of rules. When someone hurts us we bring it up again and again. Sometimes verbally, sometimes intentionally, often just by thinking about it and being cautious with the offender long after the offense. As a holistic life coach, I think it’s really important to remember that any time I choose to hold this offense against someone, it affects me as well. For justice to be served at its best, after an offense is committed and apology accepted, the offense would be forgotten. Not just forgiven but actually forgotten.

If my husband has come home late, caused me to worry I might well be angry. However, after he has apologized and I say he is forgiven neither of us is served well by my reminding him the next day to come home on time to avoid my wrath. All that happens then is that he is on edge and I’m all ready to get upset again. Of course, this is the most simplistic example, but the point is the same regarding justice at any level. We do not forgive simply for the sake of the offender, but for the sake of the offended as well. If I’m living with the thought of something that was done to me, rehashing, again and again, I’m letting that offense color my entire life. By the same token, even if the punishment was meted out, every time I bring up the offense I am punishing the offender again and again. Never letting it go, never allowing either of us to move on in a healthy and productive way.

Of course, I recommend that you read the book. This subject and many others are addressed in detail and put much better than I ever could. Just the same, I wanted to share my thoughts. Let’s make an effort to not only forgive, but to truly forgive. We’ll all be much healthier and happier for the effort.

Wishing you a fabulous day, filled with forgiveness and justice.

Namaste,
Sandy