“I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing
I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”
– Anne Lamott
We all have a lifetime of hurts, disappointments and justifications that fuel resentments and regrets.
Let’s take a closer look at the power that resentments and regrets have on us, and how they rob us of the joy of being alive.
Let me first give you some background on this phenomenon that we are going to call “forgiveness.”
In life, something happens. That is an event, or a happening, and it happens. For real, it happens!
What gives that “thing” that happened an emotional charge occurs in the land of “what does this mean that this thing happened?”
As humans, we give meaning to everything! Every single event, every conversation that occurs in life, gets processed by our brain, which is designed to store all data.
Something happens, your braintakes in that information, and Voila! In a Nano-second, it gives you evidence for your interpretation, or meaning, about what happened.
Said another way, we “blend” the two into one. “Something happened” now becomes “LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!”
How do we escape this trap?
I know that this is really not great news, because you have A LOT of evidence gathered, and a lot invested in your viewpoint that is tightly wrapped up in “What does it mean that this thing happened to me?”
You can only be free to create, if you are free to forgive – yourself, and others.
Forgiveness and the freedom to create is not a “one-size-fit-all” phenomenon. It consists of two different aspects: Forgiveness of Others, and Forgiveness of Self.
If you are resentful, what there is to do is to forgive others. If you are regretful, what there is to do is to forgive yourself.
When something “happens,” the reality is that something happened. That’s what happened. That thing happened.
“The dog ran out into the street and got hit by a car.” Is what happened. Your interpretation, your opinion, and your viewpoint are all interpretations and conclusions about “what happened.”
“The dog ran out into the street and got hit by a drunk driver that deliberately went for it. What a jerk! Why do (all) people have to be so cruel to animals? Somebody should do something about people like this. How would he/she like it if somebody did this to them? The world is cruel. Where has our society gone? This must be part of the whole meltdown of the world — Do you think this driver was on drugs? Or part of a secret cult? Maybe he/she is getting back at his parents for his childhood? Or maybe he is running from the law? What if ……”
Get it? Meaning, interpretation, drama …. It robs us of our power and distracts us from the very essence of living a life we love. We are too busy being resentful and angry at life and what has happened. (to us)
This is NOT to say that those things haven’t happened. This IS to say that you can either live your life inside of anger, resentments and regrets … or you can set yourself free.
It’s up to you. It’s your life. Are you free to create? Or, are you consumed by resentments and regrets and the burden of bitterness?
1. Reflect on the following categories of life:
Job, career, education, goals, dreams, weight, self-esteem, family relationships, finances, romance, adventure, sex, exercise, etc.
(Feel free to add more categories! Raise the lid! Go for it! Let’s be thorough about this look-see!)
Now, go to your trusted journal. Use all the pages you need, and answer, for yourself, the following questions, using the categories you have identified, above:
What’s working about my life?
- Who/what do I appreciate?
- Am grateful for?
What’s not working about my life?
a. Who/What do I resent?
b. What do I regret?
You might find it useful to actually note Resentments and Regrets in two different columns or pages
Resentments & Regrets
Now, in a column next to those identified “resentments” and “regrets” what actually happened? Versus, what does it mean that that “thing” happened? What evidence does this give you about life, and how life “is”?
- If you were to forgive someone or something, or even if you were to forgive yourself, what “truth” or “belief” do you have about that circumstance or situation that would you have to let go of to actually be able to even “look” at forgiveness? What belief are you invested in? What viewpoint are you committed to? I am not asking you to actually “forgive.” I am only recommending that you put your resentments or regrets on “pause” long enough to look newly at that the “what happened” versus being hooked by, and embroiled in, your meaning or interpretation of “what happened.”
- If you WERE able to forgive, yourself or others, what would become possible? If that resentment or regret were not there to deal with, and got put away, how light would you be? What could you get an action around, now that you are free?