So I have learned an important lesson this week that maybe I should have learned a long time ago, and that is that forgiveness is about me. I always thought forgiveness meant that I was forgiving someone else for their wrong actions. That when I had had sufficient time to heal my hurt from their wrongdoing then I could think about forgiving them. That is not what it is at all. Forgiving is about releasing my judgement of another person. It is releasing my thoughts about how that person is wrong and how much they hurt me. The most important aspect of forgiving is that I stop trying to prove that I am right. I didn’t realize how much energy it takes to prove that I am right until I stopped. And what does that really mean? In order to prove that I am right, it means that I replay an argument in my head over and over, which even as I write that makes me wonder why I would want to do that to myself. It also means that I spend the time to try and remember every detail and pass judgement on all the words that were said. Is my memory completely accurate? Most likely in remembering, I slant things in my favor. In using my energy and time on replaying an argument, I can make myself feel better by believing that I only insulted them because they started it, and my insult wasn’t as bad as theirs. So if I spend the time thinking about all of this, and dreaming about it, and telling my friends about it to get them on my side, then after a few weeks when I feel like I have proven my point, that I am indeed right, only then can I forgive. But the question I never asked until now is who am I proving this point to? I never felt like the winner even in my own mind in an argument. The truth is that after a few weeks I am just bored with the topic because I have talked it , thought about it, and dreamt about it to death. And I finally forgive because I don’t have the interest to think about it anymore. But what did I really accomplish? Nothing! I just wasted my energy trying to prove that I indeed am the better person and I only get angry and insulting when someone else makes me that way. Really? So, I am saying that I have no control over myself? That I can’t walk away and not be angry and insulting? Why can’t I? The truth in all of this is I do become angry and insulting in arguments and all of my talking about an argument for weeks is me trying to justify my own actions, it is nothing to do with the other person. This, I have just learned! I feel kind of silly that it has taken me this long in life to learn this. That forgiveness is really about forgiving myself for being a person in that moment that I don’t like, that I don’t want to be, that ultimately I am ashamed of. So, instead of taking weeks out of my life to justify why I was that person, I can forgive myself that I did indeed say things that I am ashamed of saying. And that maybe the other person provoked me, but I do definitely have a mind of my own, and I can choose different words and different actions. That is really the truth. As hard as it may be when my heart is pounding, and my anxiety is telling me to scream to relieve it, I can choose not to act on it. Because aren’t I judging the other person for letting their emotions get the better of them, yet I am doing the same thing? Why did I never see this before? I feel like I stopped drinking and changed a lot of other habits that were keeping me emotionally trapped but I was still arguing as if I were drunk. I was still using the same set of tools that I had used my whole life, which basically are that I am right and the other person is wrong, and let me explain why. I feel stupid after this realization, I honestly can’t believe that I was still running my interpersonal relationships almost at a high school level, and I thought I had come so far. In sitting with my emotions rather than acting on them for the last few weeks, I have learned this. My mantra lately as been that I don’t want to waste energy, that I need all my energy for me, but then I take that energy of my own free will to prove how right I am. Hello?? Wow! I always heard that forgiveness is a blessing, that people should forgive because it will make you feel better, and I always thought that it was a religious motto that sounded good but really didn’t mean anything. Until I actually from my head to my toes truly forgave. It is a true release and a gift. It takes all the noise in my head and releases it so that I can think about other more positive things. It lets me see the good and lightness in people instead of proving that their dark side exists. Everyone has a dark side, I have a dark side. But also everyone including me makes mistakes and says the wrong thing, or does the wrong action. I realize that the only one that was punishing my wrong actions was me, by replaying things over and over in my head until I proved to myself that my wrong action was justified. Well, it wasn’t, it isn’t and never was. But I can forgive. I can forgive myself for being a person that I am not proud of in that moment. I can release judging myself, so in turn release trying to prove that I am right. I am not right. When someone is mad at me it makes me feel small and scared, and out of control. These are my emotions from having no control as a child, and this part of me is triggered when I am around someone’s disapproval. I have 2 reactions to someone disapproving of me, which are frantically trying to please the other person so that they are not mad at me, or lashing out to try and bring them down to feel as small as me. That is it. That is where I have been trapped. Not seeing that there are so many other ways to handle these situations. I am not small and scared anymore, I am a grown woman with a multitude of ways that I can handle situations. I just never saw that until now, I was allowing this old trigger to still run a part of my life. But, not anymore. I am taking control over my own emotions, and the beginning of doing that for me is forgiveness.
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