Fun on the 4am thought-train
Do you ever wake up at 4am with your mind going a hundred miles an hour, thoughts spinning over all different parts of your life? Or maybe for you it starts when you try to go to sleep at night, stretching out in the cold sheets, relaxing, and then BAM! the rollercoaster thought-train takes off. And I don’t know about you, but it’s not usually beautiful thoughts about vacation, it’s usually all of the things we have to do and didn’t, or things that are going wrong.
And then there are all the people who are making our lives difficult. They have a way of popping in on that train too. I mean, we could just forgive them but...
Sometimes we make forgiveness into this huge task, a task fraught with suffering and drama. Many people even get defensive when forgiveness is brought up (ok, by ‘many people’ I mean me), like it somehow indicates that whatever happened wasn’t that bad, or that by forgiving it means we are condoning the behavior. We add up 2 and 2 and get 5. This faulty math, this belief that forgiveness equals losing or submission, keeps us pissed off, hurt, and stuck.
And yet we know, if we can separate our intellect from our emotions, that holding on to these grievances, however justified, doesn’t actually hurt the perpetrator at all. It just allows us to keep experiencing the suffering over and over again.
But now, before I lose you to the rehashing of all the wrongs that have been done to you, let’s take a hard left. This isn’t actually about those people. I want to take this in a different direction and focus on all the times you forgive people without too much thought. I want to focus on the times that forgiveness isn’t that big of a deal, the times it isn’t fraught with suffering and drama.
When your child says something awful to you and after the initial sting you let it go.
When your best friend at work snaps at you when she is having a bad day.
When your spouse forgets the one thing at the store that you needed but somehow managed to get all the snacks for game day.
When your sister forgets your birthday and doesn’t call until 2 days later.
It would be easy to say that these above examples aren’t that big of a deal. But the real point here is that we forgive people all the time and in the above examples, we are forgiving people we love. We follow these “transgressions”, with a story that is not hurtful.
He said that because he is stressed about school and mad at his girlfriend, it has nothing to do with me.
My poor coworker is so stressed out, I’m not going to add to it.
Forgetting things at the store happens to all of us.
I know for a fact that my sister loves me, she probably just got busy (or, in the case of one of my sisters, she was up way too early and thought of me right away but didn’t want to call at that hour in the false hope that I was actually sleeping in on my birthday).
OK, so where is all this leading? We have established that forgiveness does not equate condoning behavior. We have established that we actually are more practiced in forgiveness that we may give ourselves credit for, especially with people we love. We have established that it doesn’t have to be a big deal.
So what if we applied this forgiveness to ourselves? WHAT?!?!?!?
What if, instead of nitpicking and criticizing and holding on to every little thing we ever did ever, we treated ourselves like one of those people we love and just forgive ourselves?
Yup, even the times we really acted like shit heads… or the times that we just acted out of stress or ignorance or defensiveness or projection.
What if we could show ourselves the love we show other people? Would it change your life? Would it change the inner dialog from
“I can’t believe I…” or “I always..I never”
“I got you. It’s ok.”
Sit with that for a minute.
Can you wrap your mind around supporting yourself that way?
Can you even imagine loving yourself and all your imperfections the way you love your child, your best friend, your sister, or your spouse?
You can. You are just as worthy as all of them.
So the next time that voice in your head starts listing all the things wrong with you (especially at 4am), all the things you’ve done wrong, all the things you were going to do and didn’t, put up a mental hand. “I’m gonna stop you right there. Agreed I didn’t maybe show up as the best version of me, maybe in some of those cases I didn’t have the tools I needed to show up better, but it’s ok. I forgive you. It’s not a big deal. I’ve got you”
I’m going to work on loving myself enough to let these things go. We can’t move forward if we are holding on to hurts that we have inflicted on ourselves. These can keep us just as stuck as holding onto things that other people have done to hurt us.
Are you holding yourself back? Does forgiving yourself sound painful?
Just let it go. Fill yourself up with as much love as possible, so much that there is plenty for all the people you love and plenty left over for you.
Yup, you are just as worth it, don’t tell yourself otherwise.
You wouldn’t let someone else get away with that.
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