No matter what our spiritual backgrounds, cultures, race, creed, age, religion or what we consider to be our inner source and strength is, the most important empowerment in our connection to one another is love.
If we all remembered the true meaning of love, this world would be a peaceful and joyful place to be. There would be no inequality, war or starvation. Crime, greed or cruelty would be a thing of the past.
Love is not a soppy sentiment, saved for emotional times in our lives, but is an active energy that is just there.
But we tend to think that if we are going to give it, it needs to be to a deserving person, or animal.
Listening to Wayne Dyer this morning I was reminded of how powerful it can be to turn the other cheek. When someone annoys us, or we feel angry with them, why don’t we do just that, turn the other cheek. We do not have to be a doormat to be walked all over, but just to pause and respond in a loving way, without anger or retaliation. Not easy, but it is possible.
No matter what your spiritual beliefs, Christian, Bhuddist, Hindu, Muslim, humanist or anything else, this quote from Corinthians 13 in the bible, is true for all of us.
1 Corinthians 13New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We have looked at how forgiving others can be liberating for you and your wellbeing and vitality.
Have you considered that you also need to forgive yourself?
Many of us have made errors of judgement, mistakes, been unkind or even brought about our own and others downfall with something that we may have done. Also in these days of societal judgment, such as illness, obesity, lack, and keeping up with the Joneses, we can easily find fault with ourselves, and wonder what we must have done wrong.
Often we can be the victim to our own misplaced guilt. For example, many working women feel guilty about leaving their kids, or the stay at home Mums feel guilty for not making a contribution to the household costs.
Another example is when you lose a loved one, part of the grieving process is to blame yourself for something that you may have done to hurt them or not done enough.
This is where it pays to take a good look at yourself, using your chosen method of meditation, and make sure that there is a real need to forgive yourself when you have not done anything wrong.
However, you may know for sure that you definitely did something that hurt or caused someones downfall. Only you will know the answer to this one.
Don’t forget to bear in mind what I suggest about doing a little at a time. Often this can be the easiest ones first.
In that case the procedure for forgiving yourself is much the same as forgiving others, which I covered briefly in the previous blog.
We are made up of mind, body and spirit. Unforgiveness can manifest itself in all three. Our mind can be fixated on the thing that needs to be forgiven, whether this is for yourself or someone else, which in turn can affect our physical and mental health. This in turn can break our spirit.
A simple exercise would be to visualise each component, speaking to the other. A sort of you talking to you.
Another way of doing it would be to seperate yourself into parent, child and adult. This is called Transactional Analysis. Write as if you are each of those characters in turn. Then speak to them. Parent to child, child to parent, and then think of how the adult would deal with, treat and talk to other two.
In our everyday lives, we usually react as if we are either one of those three. The parent could be bossy and expect you to behave in a certain way that keeps them happy. (Use what ever your perception of a parent or guardian was when you were a child.)
The child would be the one in need of some love and understanding.
The adult, would be the person reading this and understanding where each of the other two are coming from.
Then go through the forgiveness exercises and much in the same way as the mind, body, spirit assigment above, get each character to talk to the other.
It will definitely help to be using your journal and writing it down. Perhaps write a little script as if you are writing a play.
I hope that this will help. Don’t forget that you can join us in the group on Facebook, and ask or discuss anything that has come up for you here.
After looking at how important forgiveness can be to our wellbeing (in the previous blog,)it would help of course if someone could tell us “how”.
We are told so much about the need for forgiveness, but knowing how to do it is half the battle.
There is a lot more to this discussion than be can be put into a blog, so I have now started an Ageing With Vitality group on Facebook, in which you can ask questions. I would love to see you there, and will endeavour to answer them, but also you may find that others can answer too. That is what the group is all about. Sharing our ideas and quandries.
I must say at this point that I “do understand how hard it is to forgive” I have been there and there is still stuff coming up every day for me to forgive, both from the past and the present.
For the purpose of today’s topic then some of the practices that I have come accross are as follows;
Meditation. Spend some time simply dwelling on the person and episode in question. Think again about the smells, environment, who was present and the outcome. Home in on what there was about the episode that was hurtful. Then think about the outcome for you. Meditate on this and decide out of the whole thing what you would find easiest to forgive.
For example; If you are still upset and hurt over your divorce or your partner leaving you, you will be thinking in general about the “whole” episode. If you can break this episode down into smaller parts, such as a certain thing they said or did, then you can practice forgiveness for that one thing, rather than trying to forgive the whole episode.
If you have been abused or cheated on, break it down into small incidents and work on one at a time. Trying to tackle the whole thing at once, without proper “training” is like trying to climb a mountain without the proper equipment and knowledge.
A little like learning to drive, you learn one action at a time, then you build it up into being a competent driver.
Here is the link to what Wayne Dyer has to say about forgiveness.
He talks about moving on, understanding yourself, being like water and in the flow, (it stagnates when it is not in the flow), reconnecting with spirit and being kind rather than being right.
Also understand that you have a vital part in forgiving others.
By not forgiving, you are perpetuating an energy of resentment and bitterness towards yourself and everyone else around you.
I am sure that there are many other ways to practice the art of forgiveness and it would be good to discuss them in the group.
A favourite way for me is something called Ho’oponopono.
A simple technique, using four sentences.
Please forgive me (as I forgive you)
I love you
You can say it in any order.
What? I hear you say, why am I having to say sorry?
Remember what I said about you perpetuating unforgiveness by not forgiving.
I’m sorry, means that you are sorry that you are perpetuating unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness by not forgiving.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY THIS OUT LOUD
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY IT TO THE PERSON.
All you have to do is to say it quietly with a picture in your mind of the thing or person that you are forgiving.
An important thing to remember with unforgiveness is that often the person concerned has moved on with their life and could be unaware, or has forgotten or frankly could not care less. You are the one who is stuck! This is another reason why forgiving the person will free YOU up. It will be your liberty.
Unforgiveness is one of the biggest blocks to freedom. Particularly as we age. To become a wise and joyful Elder, we need to come to grips with this important aspect of our lives.
Right from when we are born, we experience hurt and damage to our body, spirit and mind, mostly from the circumstances and other people in our lives.This may be bullying, misconceived parenting, religion, cultural ideas, peers, siblings, friends and even from those who love us.
No one cannot go through life without damaging experiences, and many of us carry these experiences throughout life. Even bad experiences later in life, can do untold damage.
For many years the Fruedian idea of how damage being done to us, is the cause of who we become, and that there is no turning back. This has been the basis of Therapy, the cause of illness, and spending immeasurable amounts of time and money on our “Inner child”. Particularly the “hurt inner child”.
Whilst this can happen, there never seems to be an answer to the question of “How can I change it!” Cognitive behaviour therapy, (CBT) has been successful in some cases, and is the most popular way of getting over hurts and behaviour, but this is only touching the surface, or the “outer” person.
To really get over things and make changes, there needs to be more work done by the individual themselves and this is why life coaching is becoming a powerful tool. Life coaching is the tool used by people when they want to move on, once they get over a major life change, such as losing a job, bereavement, divorce, retirement, and often when people just feel “stuck” and don’t know where to go next.
In most cases the reason why people cannot move on is that they are not taught how to forgive or what it really means, and that forgiveness can be the first step to moving on with their lives. In the case of ageing, it certainly needs to be dealt with if we are not going to carry bitterness and resentment into our vulnerable older years.
Have you ever thought that you need to forgive yourself?
You could be surprised at how much resentment you are carrying around towards yourself. At the bottom of this anger and resentment you could be carrying unforgiveness around just for being human!
Everyone makes errors or judgment, being unkind, saying hurtful things, playing jokes on others at school, telling lies and so on. These human errors are almost impossible to keep a record of.
It may be something that you did that was quite a major incident in your life and had disastrous, life changing effects on yourself or others.
You could be carrying this around and it is affecting everything you do in the present time.
It is just the same as resentment and unforgiveness to others.
When you did your Life Review from my post “Expectations and Consciousness in Ageing”, you may have uncovered stuff about hurts and pain. You may also have something that happened in the past that you talk a lot about, or that you think a lot about. That one will be obvious.
In any case, sit quietly or go for a walk on your own and think about what you would like to be “rid of” with memories and overuling resentments. Would you really like to be free of these?
Let’s look at what forgiveness really is!
Forgiveness is misconstrued in our society and beliefs. It certainly was for me, until I learnt one important componant that made it easier for me.
The following quotes are extracts from “The Art and Science of Forgiveness” by Frederick Luskin, PhD and featured in a book called Consciousness and Healing.
“Forgiveness in no way means you have to reconcile with someone who treated you badly. I see this confusion over and over in the work that I do. For example, if you were the recipient of childhood abuse, or are in a harsh relationship, you can forgive the offender and, as part of that choice, make the decision to end or limit contact. Forgiveness is primarily for creating your peace of mind. It is to create healing in your life and return you to a state in which you can live and be capable again of trust and love.”
He goes on to say;
” Another misconception is that it depends on whether or not the abuser or lying person apologizes, wants you back, or changes his or her ways. If another person’s poor behaviour was the primary determinent for your healing, then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. In another vein, you can forgive your ex-spouse for his or her insulting speech and even abandoning you or your children, but forgiveness in no way means you do not take your ex to court to make sure your children get the support payments to which you are entitled. Forgiveness and justice are not the same! You can seek justice with an open heart as well as a bitter one.”
In other words you can forgive without condoning the behaviour that hurt you.
” Lastly, forgiveness does not mean that we forget what happened to us in our urge to move forward and get on with our lives. It is ludicrous to expect anyone who has been badly hurt not to remember the wound.”
Luskin does not suggest that you dwell on your greivances. Jesus said that we need to forgive not just 7 times, but 70 times 70.
This simply means that everytime you remember the hurt, just say to yourself that you have forgiven.
I found this information a liberating and life changing experience. Like other people I have had some major hurts in my life and spent many years believing that I could not forgive the people who hurt me, because that would mean that I had to forget and reconcile, and write to the person to tell them that I had forgiven.
But then I realised that it was inner work that I needed to do and as long as I held unforgiveness, I was also holding onto the hurt. I learnt that letting go of the hurt did not mean I needed to put it in the past and forget about it.
Now I simpy do as Luskin and many others suggest, I simply forgive the person over again.
In the next blog we will look at HOW TO FORGIVE. This is something that is not talked a lot about. It can also be a stumbling block, so make sure that you “tune in” again to the next one on Forgiveness and Ageing.
For many people writing a life review can be challenging and may have prove to be a painful experience. Looking at the past can bring up emotions that you may have been carrying for most of your life and been unaware of.
On the other hand, many people also live their present day life believing that their past experiences are what made them the person that they are today. This is true of course, but if you don’t heal a painful past, you can let it rule your future.
You can still be the abused child, or the bullied teenager, or even the unhappy partner in a soured relationship. Without healing you can carry the past into the future and stay stuck there for the rest of your life.
This can be a very powerful and controlling factor to carry with you, often without realising that you are doing it.
The new relationship can be soured because maybe a disagreement brings up old stuff about the old relationship.
A new career may be threatened by something that happens or is said that reminds you of the old boss or something that you perceived as failure on your part.
The bullied tenager may still be with you many years later when you want to join a football team, but you can’t pluck up the courage to do it.
Many people who were bankrupt in the past, carry a sense of failure around with them for the rest of their lives where money is concerned.
I have witnessed many very old people who carry their past around with them, and become bitter and twisted and alienate everyone around them, including their carers.
Working with them as a carer taught me the importance of healing the past.
What I also witnessed was that the kindest and happiest people in those environments were the ones that attracted people to them.
You need to do this while you can, and the sooner you start the better. If you wait until you are older, you may become too incapacitated to do anything about it.
Do it now and your older years can be a time of great peace and joy. Make them your golden years. Dried leaves in the autumn have a beauty of their own.
If you are reading this then you are well on your way to doing it. Or you may be reading it because you are concerned about someone elses peace of mind in their older years, and don’t quite know how to help them. A word of caution here though, remember that you cannot do it for them.
The process of healing the past cannot happen overnight. But it can happen!
It will be a bit like peeling an onion. You will deal with one thing and then something else that has been hidden underneath may come up. But don’t let that put you off.
It will be such a wonderful tranformative experience, that your new sense of freedom and joy will be almost addictive.
For today, look again at the experiences that brought up the painful stuff that you wrote down from the previous blog, and see which one you feel is the easiest one to deal with.
An essential part of healing the past is forgiveness. Look at the people who were concerned in this relatively easy one, and ask yourself if you can or have forgiven them. Including yourself.
The next blog will be looking at forgiveness. What seems an impossible task, can be done with some work on your part, but it is not such hard work as you may believe.
It will certainly help towards your journey of Healing the Past and Ageing with Vitality, health and peace of mind. Which in turn will bring you joy, peace and love not only to you, but to others around you.