The other night as I lay my head on the pillow reflecting on my day, I felt a strong sensation in my body as a thought popped into my awareness.
It was something I said to my daughter while we were Skyping. It was a negative comment, a judgment about someone else. I instantly felt bad and thought I should get up out of bed, immediately, and email Jaime to tell her how I was feeling about it. I thought to myself – that will make me feel better and I will be able to sleep and stop worrying about what I said! Usually my M.O. would have included creating an entire storyline about what the other person thought about me and what I said, then I would move into serious reflection about why I said what I did and my mind would begin to spin, spin, spin – out of control. I, instead, decided to be with the thoughts, forgive myself for what I said, send out positive energy to the person I made the remark about and email or call Jaime in the morning to apologize. I, surprisingly, fell asleep rather easily.
I think I was able to get right to sleep because of self-forgiveness and the knowingness that as Maya Angelou says “When you know better, you do better.” By forgiving myself, taking responsibility for the comment and stating out loud (to myself and my daughter) that I was aware I contributed to creating negative energy – I made a mental note to try to catch myself sooner so I would decrease the likelihood of acting that way again. As I said to Jaime – it is not how I want to be in the world. I will, however, remember I am human and working on not sliding into old patterns.
Every moment, every action, every reaction is an opportunity to be present to how we can celebrate when we move away from old patterns that no longer serve us and celebrate how we are all connected. This cannot be done by judging others. By making a choice to not engage in negative comments, thoughts or stories about others, we are making a conscious choice to decrease suffering for ourselves and others. I am making the choice to take responsibility in this way valuing the importance of being kind to myself and others as I continue along my path of self development embracing the spiritual journey – going with the flow of life’s ups and downs – which I know are here to teach me valuable life lessons.
Pema Chodron writes about forgiveness in her book The Places that Scare You. There is a simple practice we can do to cultivate forgiveness. First, we acknowledge what we feel – shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Then, in the spirit of not wallowing in the pain, we let go and make a fresh start. We don’t have to carry the burden with us anymore. We will discover forgiveness as a natural expression of the open heart, an expression of our basic goodness.