God, grant me the serenity…
Have you ever said something you wish you could take back because you hurt someone you love or made an already painful situation worse?
How do you forgive yourself when you do?
While experience is the best teacher and hindsight is 20/20, a little humility can go a long way on the sometimes rocky road of relationships and everyday life.
If you are one of those people who just seems to always be right, you probably should read no further.
…to accept the things I cannot change…
People are people. I cannot change people. I can barely change myself!
In tough situations, it seems the first instinct is to go to fear, and from there, control. While I’m not a psychologist, I’m guessing this is simply about survival.
Faced with a stressful situation, what is primary for most is figuring out how to come out on top, not necessarily the bigger picture.
Seems a little unevolved and primitive, yet it is our instinct. If I can accept this in myself, why not in an-other?
…courage to change the things I can…
The only thing I can change is me. My thinking, my behavior and the company I keep are the first places to take inventory. If I can keep my side of the street clean, chances are I will spend a lot less time trespassing on someone else’s.
If I am ignoring the fact that something needs to change in my world, I can guarantee my relationships are going to suffer a loss…and an apology is probably not far behind!
An apology is not just saying I’m sorry, but acknowledging my actions and earnestly setting out to NOT repeat the hurtful behavior.
When faced with a stressful or potentially hurtful situation with a co-worker, friend, or loved-one, the method I use goes something like this…
Explore my thinking in real time, take focus off of the situation at hand and turn it inward.
If the situation requires my immediate response, I do my best to ask for some time, or I may even just resist trying to be right, make the other person right in the moment, and walk away so that I may process what is going on. I know this seems “false”, but it can prevent a terrible event from becoming an explosive one!
Whatever the mess, I’ll clean up later. Under pressure…the commitment in the moment is “Do No Harm” — or at least “no more harm”.
I have to be able to get out of self-centric thinking and survival mode to make any shift occur.
Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it?
In order to get OUT of myself, I must look deeply INTO myself.
What is my self-talk? Am I blaming, feeling a victim, shocked by someone else’s behavior (judging)?
- Chances are that I am avoiding responsibility for something. This can be tricky, it can be very difficult to see how I am playing a part in the problem while experiencing strong emotions.
- Practice makes perfect, and eventually, a loop, pattern, or theme will emerge.
- It does get easier to prevent the thinking altogether as you consistently address defeating thought patterns. You can rewire your thinking — it requires energy and attention.
- Once a loop is complete, a new loop will emerge along with all of the associated opportunities to learn and grow…and so on. I believe this is normal, not chaotic. When life is perfect, I guess it would most likely be over!
What is it that I really need or want right now that I am not receiving?
- It may be that I am feeling insecure, less than, or frightened of losing someone or something. What I could really use in a moment like this is love, understanding, and kindness.
How can I give what it is I want to receive right now in this moment?
- This part takes some imagination, I’ll admit. This is a skill that must be developed over time, try not to over think it.
- Reminding myself in the moment that being right is not nearly as wonderful as being in harmony with a colleague, friend or loved one helps me connect with my compassion.
Make the shift in thinking AND behavior…
If the moment allows for me to demonstrate love,understanding, and kindness in some fashion or gesture, I certainly do.
If not, I just think it towards the other as if saying a prayer…and as I mentioned earlier, take responsibility and change my behavior.
…and the wisdom to know the difference…
Wisdom, in any case, requires time and experience — and especially HUMILITY.
Being able to look into the mirror (without the justifications, the blaming, the judging of self or others) and accept what is… outside my influence. I have found this to be the key to serenity and maintaining relationships in the world.
Remembering the bigger picture helps put everything in perspective. It’s about the WE. I am committed to the relationship, project, or cause. I am a part of that, but not primary.
So how do I forgive myself when I’ve made a mistake or hurt someone I love?
Honestly, I usually come to a place where forgiveness (for self or others) is completely unnecessary. It comes down to embracing duality.
Life is about learning and growing. Without mistakes, how would I learn anything? How would I grow without a challenge?
I know that sounds ridiculous…I am actually reading what I am writing!
I know what you are thinking…but this doesn’t mean be a doormat or just magically accept everything.
No, this is not easy. It is hard.
It is hard to walk away from what you thought you wanted when you realize it is the source of your suffering.
It is hard to let go of the thinking you were raised with because it is blocking you from experiencing a better life and enjoying a new world.
It is hard to love someone and know that to detach from the need to help is the most compassionate, loving action you can take to demonstrate your love for them and yourself.
Changing thoughts, behaviors, and environment is not easy but often necessary to living a better life.
Self observation is not for the faint of heart. It takes an incredible amount of self honesty and courage to see yourself — and dedication to something bigger than you — to make changes that can result in right thinking and right action — resulting in more happiness, more peace of mind, more kindness and morelife.