Forgiveness is not about other people, it’s about you. When you can learn to forgive yourself, even when you aren’t the one to blame, you let go of the negative emotions so that you can take the learnings into your future.
Also, I talk about John Gibson, the pastor who committed suicide after hackers revealed millions of user names and detailed information about the users from the Ashley Madison infidelity and cheating site.
Forgiveness is never about the other person, it’s about you. It’s giving yourself a break because you ended up in a situation that won’t let yourself live down. Forgive yourself for not being conscious enough to make different decisions.
One of the first things that happens when someone does something that we don’t like, or maybe even hate, is that we get a feeling inside. We get a negative emotion that starts to spring up where that anger or sadness or fear or whatever it is… we might feel betrayed or upset. That first feeling usually builds to other feelings too, but that first feeling is what we hold onto until we forgive.
And the longer we hold on to that feeling inside of our body the more sabotage we bring into our life and the more bad luck we have. And, the more our decisions don’t turn out the way we want them to turn out.
Another thing about forgiveness is that it’s not an excuse to release the other person of their responsibilities: They’re still accountable for their actions, but forgiveness is a way to release yourself of pain and hurt.
Remember, forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is about forgiving yourself for being the way you were at the time. I doesn’t mean you were wrong, it just means sometimes we have expectations of ourselves that we don’t meet.
Like, I know people who have been hurt by other people, and they say “I should have known better. I should have made different decisions. I should have done this instead and that.”
All this self-blame. You’re hurting yourself and have a lack of compassion. Forgiveness is all about being compassionate towards yourself, being loving towards “you”, so that you can feel better.
Once you start to feel better you can let these other people go. You know how works, right? If you don’t forgive someone, they end up staying in your life longer than you wanted.
Sometimes a really long time!
Sometime think about someone that you can’t forgive haven’t forgiven if you have anybody like that in your life and think about how often they come up in your life how often maybe they call or they appear or hot and you think about them and how it still hurts you today that you’re still thinking about them where they’re still up here and why is that why did these people show up the longer you hold on to the stuff but longer these people are in your life
Why? What cosmic reason could it be that these people stick around in your life?
Well, the practical reason that I see is that as long as they still bother you they are still somehow connected to you.
I know, that’s not very practical sounding. But what happens is that they’re always on your mind, so the more you think about them, the more they are going to be referenced in your life. You’re like, “Oh, that reminds me of so and so.”, or “I bet so and so is going to call”, or this or that. And other people are going to hear you talking about so and so, and that person’s going to get talked about more often, then the word spreads that you’re talking about them, and it they continue to show up.
What you’re doing is keeping that person’s presence in your life alive. You’re keeping them prevalent in your life.
So the question is, Do you want to hang on to these people that you can’t seem to forgive?
It doesn’t mean you have to be nice to them, and you don’t have to be mean to them either. Besides, when you behave negatively towards them, it makes you feel a certain way inside.
That feeling isn’t good, so when you feel negatively, you haven’t forgiven yourself, because the feeling is inside of you and forgiving yourself for the way you responded and the decisions that you made, and your role, if any, in what happened is what releases you and starts to let them go from your life.
It’s like cutting the energetic tether from you to them that, as long as you’re holding on to what they did and keeping that pain inside of you, that tether never cuts.
Remember forgiveness is about forgiving you.
Give yourself a break for ending up in a situation that you refuse to let die. You don’t have to forgive the other person at all in my opinion. They’re going to be who they are and what they are, and they may never change.
But forgiving you allows you to clear your conscience of toxic thoughts and bad feelings. You need more self compassion, more self love, and just give yourself a break.
Maybe you made a bad decision. Maybe you even saw the signs but didn’t do anything.
Maybe you did feel stupid but can just brush it off yourself saying, “I forgive me. I should have known better” or whatever words you come up with, just so you can let go of the hurt.
And by letting go of the hurt, you get to see a bad situation as a lesson that you can bring forward into your future. This is part of the forgiveness process. You can’t learn your lesson until you forgive yourself.
Once you forgive yourself you can move on. You can get out of the stagnation. You can stop being the victim.
Once you’re not the victim anymore, you’re no longer sabotaging your own world. Your decisions and behavior are causing the outcomes that you want.
When I was married, my wife wanted to get a divorce. I didn’t want to forgive. I figured, as long as I held on to the hurt that she made me feel inside, I can continue blaming her, which is what I did for the next 2 or 3 months.
I would just hang on to this hurt. Then she would reach out to me and try to be friendly, and I would bite back and say something like, “Why didn’t you want to get therapy? Why didn’t you give us a chance?” and other accusatory questions.
Then one day, I wrote her an email blaming her for everything that went wrong in the marriage. And before I sent it, I read it. I changed some words because I wasn’t so angry anymore, but I was still accusing her of different things.
Then the third time I rewrote the email because I read it again and I realized, “Wow, I’m not as angry or as hurt as I used to because I just wrote that email and expressed all my emotions…” The third time I read it and rewrote it, I wasn’t blaming her at all all.
That hurt and pain came out through the expression in my writing, because I was able to slow down my thought processes and write or type them out in an email. I wrote everything I felt. It was a process of self forgiving.
That’s self-compassion and self-love. I allowed myself to release the pressure by venting the negativity out of me. Then, being in that space, I was much more forgiving. And, I made it all about me.
I was forgiving myself, and I was able to also say to her, “Look, this is probably not the best time to talk and be friendly because we just went through a lot, so why don’t we just go our separate ways, and maybe someday we’ll meet again and we can be friendly to each other at that time.
And that’s what happened. We parted ways. Since then, I’ve felt pretty good.
You don’t have to be a victim. You’re allowed to be a victim, but you don’t have to stay the victim. And you know when you stay the victim, you stay stagnant. You don’t go anywhere.
I would rather have you make an empowered decision so that you can create positive changes in your world, and the world of those you love.
So if you’re in a place of not being able to forgive don’t even think about the other person that you can’t forgive. The person that you can’t forgive, or the other situation, or whatever happened, think about yourself and how you can be compassionate towards you.
How can you forgive yourself and give yourself the power to move beyond the pain?
How can you give yourself a break for not having all the resources you needed at the time to make different decisions, or to see the signs of whatever was going on. Forgive yourself and you can move forward.
Let’s go to our next segment
I get a lot of emails and instead of answering them in email, I prefer to answer them on the show, keeping anonymity of course, I value your privacy, so I don’t mention people’s names or details. Answering them on the show allows you to maybe learn from someone else’s challenges.
So here we go, I’m going to read today’s letter which is from a girl that I’m going to call “Jill”.
Hi Paul, I recently realized that I have a lot of self doubt about my life and wanted to be able to have a career that I enjoy, that I can also earn enough money from to one day own a home in maybe even have a family.
I’m in my twenties, still young, but I feel like no matter what I do to try and work towards my goals, something always comes to smash them a bit. Whether that’s financially, health wise, or something else.
I’m wondering if you could maybe do a show on the fear of failure, and feeling doomed to fail, on how not to put so much pressure on yourself.
If you’ve done something like that, can you please direct me to it? You would be a wonderful help.
Again, that’s not her real name.
Well Jill, one of the first things that strikes me about your letter is that when you make decisions, you don’t get the results you want.
I kind of touched upon this in the last segment. When you’re not getting the results that you want from the decisions that you make, it usually involves not being an alignment with what’s important to you.
What’s most important to you are what I call your values. When you’re not in alignment with your values, you will sabotage yourself (see the Values worksheet on stopping self-sabotage).
And what I mean by that is if you make decisions based on fear, and not in your highest interest, you set yourself up for failure.
For example, one of my highest work values is that I’m respected and that I feel significant in some way.
So when I was completely broke, when I was married, we were going to the soup kitchen every morning. This is a story I’ve repeated over and over again, so there are probably listeners going , “Oh great, here’s that that story again!”
But it was a good time in my life because it was a pivotal moment of learning a lesson.
Back then, I would go to the soup kitchen every morning. Then I finally got a job.
Week after week, I was enjoying what I was doing and enjoying having work. However, they misrepresented the position to me.
So here I am, doing what I’m doing, and they said that I was going on the phones in a few days. They said I’m going to be a support person on the phone.
My heart sank! I really didn’t want to be a technical support person on the phone. I started the job thinking I’d only be working with hardware. That’s what I loved, working with my hands. But when they said that I would be answering phone calls, I was like, “Well, that’s not how the job was represented to me. I thought I was only going to be working with hardware.”
But they told me I’d be getting on phones. After that day, I felt really bad going to work. Knowing that I’d have to be on the phones very soon made me feel awful.
So the day before I was supposed to transfer to phone support, I called my wife from work. I said, “I am feeling miserable. Tomorrow they are going to put me on the phones and it’s not something I want to do at all. ”
There were other things that were going on too, like every time I gave my input to improve a process to, for example, add videos to the website to help people out, they said, “Nope, we’re going to do the things that we are used to doing so everything has to stay status quo. Just put your head down and keep your eyes on the horizon.”
I just felt insignificant. I felt disrespected because they weren’t listening to me. These things were against my highest values, yet here I was having to make a paycheck.
I had to stay there, otherwise we’d end up back at the soup kitchen! So I called my wife to share this with her, and share my feelings about being stuck.
I told her, “Working here is against everything I believe in and want for myself.” She told me to do what I had to do and that she trusted my decision.
In one hand, I had a job that was making money. In the other, I would have to go back to the soup kitchen and stay broke.
But, I thought about what my highest values are in work work – one was to feel significant. The other is to be respected. I have a few more values in there two, but those were the top two I felt being violated.
I knew I’d be miserable if I stayed. So, the next day, I quit. I went up to one of the co-managers, and said, “Well, this isn’t what I expected . You want to put me on phones and I don’t want to be there. So, I have to go. ”
He was very surprised. But I did it. I went home, with the full support of my wife (which is fantastic) and we went back to the soup kitchen.
We had no money again but I felt better about myself. I didn’t want to go back to the soup kitchen. I didn’t want to be broke, but I felt good about myself again.
When you feel good about yourself, you can move forward with confidence. Quitting that job opened the path for something else to come my way. If I was still working there, I wouldn’t have been as receptive or looking for work.
I’d be like “Finally, I have work, I’m making money, and this is where I’m going to stay”.
But instead, I opened myself up to be more receptive and it was very soon that I had another job paying almost, well actually, double what I was getting.
It doesn’t always work out that way for everyone, but I really do believe that if I had a job that I hated, but knew I was at least making money, then I probably wouldn’t have been looking for other work because. After all, I wanted to avoid the soup kitchen!
In the end however, I chose to go back to the soup kitchen rather than stay in a job where I compromise myself day after day.
So, back to you Jill! One of the things that stands out in your letter is where you talk about self-doubt which no doubt comes from worrying about your decisions, because they aren’t in alignment with what you value most
If one of your highest goals in life is to be thin and energized, but you eat a lot of cake, you might be surprised to find that you have an even higher value that overrides being thin and energized.
What I mean by that is, let’s say I have a value where I want to be respected at work. If someone disrespected me and I didn’t do anything about it, then there must be something else more important that allows that to happen to myself.
Does that make sense?
If you are allowing things to happen to you then, what is more important than those bigger visions (values) for yourself?
If you have a vision of being thin and healthy, in this example, yet a tasty cake comes along that you can’t resist, there must be something more important than being thin and healthy.
Maybe what you need to do is think about these two things:
- What are you not doing enough of right now? Or what are you not getting enough of right now?
- What are you doing too much of right now? Or what are you getting too much of?
If you say something like that “I’m not getting enough comfort in my life”, maybe you’re not getting enough sleep, or maybe you’re not getting enough self-nurturing, and because of that, you eat cake to feel self-nurtured.
And how about What are you doing too much of? Maybe you’re doing too much work, maybe you’re doing too many dishes everyday, or maybe there’s something that just feels overwhelming or too much and makes you tired all the time so that you don’t get to comfort you.
Maybe you don’t get the sleep you need or the rest you crave. When you are getting those things, you have more balance in your life, and you’re not so tempted by unhealthy choices when they come along.
If you came home from work every day, and you felt no stress and overall, you just felt good about going to work, then you probably wouldn’t be (again using this food example) enticed so much to eat a cake!
You would instead enjoy it as a snack on a special occasion. It wouldn’t become a medication for you.
For example, some people will come home from work and want to drink just to medicate – just to relax and unwind. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; If it’s not a problem in your life then it’s not a problem but if it overrides those values in your life, then it’s time to consider what you’re doing too much of and what you’re not doing enough of… and what you’re getting too much of and what you’re not getting enough of, so that you can start making getting more balance in your life.
When you have balance, when you do have a hard day, you’ll be able to make the right decisions for yourself.
I hope that makes sense.
Now, you talk about fear of failure. Fear of failure is really about fearing who you are when you fail.
I mean, everyone fails, but who do you become when that happens?
Do you become the person that gets up and says “Well damn it, I’m going to try it again!” Or do you fail and stay down, feeling defeated?
I used to skateboard when I was a kid. I did it for quite a few years. I would fall a hundred times or more trying to land the same trick over and over again. And it would hurt!
But I would still go back day after day after day trying to learn that trick. I would fall on my butt, I would fall forward and hurt my wrists, I would I scrape my knee because the board would come up and hit my knees. My shins were always beat up, but I kept doing it over and over again even though I kept failing.
If you fear failure, then you also fear success. I know this sounds weird, but without failure, there is no success, because how would you get to success if you don’t know failure?
This is this is simple Personal Growth 101: You can never know success without failure. Then, after you fail many times, success tastes so much sweeter.
When I finally landed that 360 kickflip on my skateboard, that success was so sweet.
Then, I would try all over again. But the point is to develop an attitude of “Well damn it, I’m just going to get up and try again!”
Now, you also said something along the lines of talking about about being doomed to fail. That’s good, because when you believe you’re doomed to fail, that’s because the visions of your success are so grand, and so far off, that you can’t even see a small step in the right direction as a success.
I usually give advice opposite of many teachers. For example, I say, Don’t make a vision so grand that you set yourself up for disappointment. Make a vision so easily attainable, that when you achieve it, you celebrate.
If you want to lose five pounds, lose one pound first. If you want to make a million dollars, make one dollar first.
I know, I’m really saying “baby steps”, but I don’t like that term. I prefer the term “milestones”.
For example, I had back surgery in 2010. When I got home from the hospital (I was in there for 5 days), there were four flights of stairs to get into our condo.
I looked down at the first step, then I looked up at the rest of the steps, and I really wasn’t sure how was going to do it.
It was cold out, I was in Portland Oregon at the time, and it was starting to rain. And here I was, at the bottom of the stairs, just having had my back opened and worked on, I have this titanium rod in there now, and I’m scared to take the first step!
But I looked down at the first step, and I said, “if I can make this first step, I can make it all the way.”
I didn’t make the goal to make it to the top step. I didn’t make the goal to get through all four flights of stairs, I made the goal that first step.
And so I lifted one leg, put it on the first step, and pushed my way up. And… I made it! I made the first step!
I just knew that once I made that 1st step, I could make the 2nd one. And that became my 2nd goal, and of course, I made that 2nd step. Then I made the 3rd step. And pretty soon, I was on flight 2, then flight 3, then I was at the top of the 4th flight of stairs!
I made it the entire way.
My vision was to make the first step. I knew once I made the first step I could make it the rest of the way because if you can do it once, you can repeat it.
All the pressure that you’re putting on yourself has to do with a vision that you really don’t believe you can achieve, otherwise it wouldn’t feel like pressure, it would feel like progress.
Even the failures feel would feel like progress. Every time I failed doing a trick on my skateboard, I learned something a little different… a little nuance with me feet, a little nuance with my balance.
Those learnings I took into the next failure, and into the next failure, until it became a success.
Now the way you make sure that you make progress is to use F.O.C.U.S. acronym.
FOCUS, Follow One Course Until Success, means letting something else go for a while so that you can focus like a laser on what you need to focus on.
This is what you need to do. It’s what I had to do last year when I was writing my first book, “Clear The Path To Happiness.”
I decided to say “no” to everything else that came my way. I tell you what, when you start to focus like that… when you focus like a laser, very tempting things will come your way.
I don’t know what it is, but as soon as you decide “No, I’m going to do this and deny almost everything else that comes along”, as soon as you decide that this is the only thing you’re going to focus on from this point on, very tempting things come your way.
So you have to learn to focus. This is what I did when writing my book.
When I started my new book, one of the first ten things things that came my way was to speak at a business conference, overseas, on a tropical island.
Talk about temptation! But I stayed laser-focused.
This is what you need to do.
If you focus, and follow that course until you’re successful, you’ll be a success. And, you’ll have no choice to be a success, because you’ll be saying “No” to so many other things anyway.
So that’s my reply to you Jill. I hope that helps you and anyone else listening. Thank you for writing.
Alright, this segment is what I call News and You, this is where I share a current piece of news, and how it affects your emotions, and how it affects your personal growth.
So today’s news is about John Gibson. He’s a pastor, a seminary professor, and he had an account on the Ashley Madison website.
If you don’t know what the Ashley Madison website is, it’s where married or unmarried people go to find partners outside of their relationship.
Make any judgment you want about that site, but bottom line is that’s where you could go if you wanted to cheat or find someone else that wanted to cheat.
Supposedly, that site would partner you up with someone and you could meet and cheat.
John was a member of this site too.
Now the big news is that the Ashley Madison site was hacked.
And guess what happened?
The hackers released the user names and information of millions of users, basically revealing everyone who was allegedly cheating on their partners.
No one suspected John Gibson, a respected, seminary professor but he knew his name was on the list, so he killed himself.
He was ashamed that he was on the site.
There are several painful angles here:
- He’s a pastor, a person of authority, who typically would be respected as a holy, honest man.
- He’s married and has a family!
- He committed suicide! That’s another angle that we could talk about for a whole ‘nother show.
- Now the family has to work through the pain of the affair and the suicide at the same time I should say alleged affair, because I didn’t read any where we actually had an affair.
His name appeared on the list, so I don’t know for sure.
- He chose to end his life rather than face it.
Shame, now let’s talk about that.
Shame borders both the worst that can happen, and the best that can happen.
In fact beyond shame is resolution. Shame is at the bottom of the emotional barrel. Once you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere left to go so you can either be honest and admit to all your fault so you can either admit to all your faults and start rebuilding your life, or let the bottom fall out.
Either way, there is resolution on the other side. But taking your own life shouldn’t be a choice because once you’ve faced shame, full on, you can start over.
You may not have the same friends and you may lose people that you love, but at least you have a chance to prove something to yourself. You can prove to yourself that you’re not the person you used to be, and you’re going to change who you are.
Or maybe don’t have to change anything. Maybe you can just feel shame for another reason, but you have a chance to start over – start fresh.
Taking your own life doesn’t give you that starting point again. Yeah, it’s going to hurt people and people are going to judge you. That’s what happens when you are ashamed about something.
But if you decide to face shame full on, you can just take the brunt of what happens, and start again.
John Gibson’s family said they would have forgiven him. Remember, they’re really forgiving themselves to get over the shock or hurt from his behavior but by forgiving themselves there also loving themselves enough to allow him back into their life.
He felt shame for what he did, and he didn’t want his family to find out and if he did he probably would have felt worse. And it sounded like his family was ready to help him and work through the tough time she was going through as well.
Like, one of the things that happened was that his family found a letter that he wrote that said he was depressed and was going through a hard time. Now if that’s true, and the family was ready to forgive, even though it might have taken a while to rebuild everything, then he could have had a chance to rebuild his life, rebuild his family, but he just didn’t want to face that shame.
He didn’t want to face the fire!
I’m here to tell you, if you’re willing to face the fire, you can start over again. It may hurt, it may feel awful, but that awful doesn’t last long.
You go through, and it’ll feel a lot better afterward.
Even if you still feel bad after, if you’re willing to go through the “fire”, then there’s some sort of resolve on the other side because there’s nowhere to go but up.
I hope that makes sense. Sometimes we’re so clouded by shame, we don’t realize how amazing the people that we love can be towards us. They may not like our behavior, and they may not want us in their lives right away, but they most likely don’t want us dead.
Shame causes us to hide the truth from others so that we can avoid judgment. When we feel judged, we feel unloved, unwanted and unsafe, so we tend to keep shame to ourselves.
I shared a shame that I had in my childhood with my girlfriend, something I’ve held onto for a long time, but I chose to tell her and I chose to be judged and just let the chips fall where they may.
The reason I did this with her was for self-forgiveness. I didn’t need her to forgive me, I needed to forgive myself so that I wouldn’t hold on to any more pain.
Admitting shame is an escape from pain and a path to self-forgiveness. And, you’ve got to know that when you admit shame, not everyone will be able to let it go easily. In fact, some people may not want you around anymore, so you can either stay in their lives in a dishonest way, not in integrity, or you can leave their lives showing that you want to be honest from this point on.
That doesn’t mean you have to leave their lives, but if they don’t want you in their life, then there’d be no reason to stick around. But the point is you can either stay in someone’s life but be dishonest and feel shame, or talk about your shame and get it out in the open, and just see what happens.
Once you release that shame, the pain can start to go away. The hurt and whatever else you’re feeling embarrassment about can start to dissipate and you can start to heal, that is if you’re ready to be healed.
If you’ve done something that caused you to feel shame in the past, but you tend to still do that behavior today, then you’re not ready to heal. You really have to reach a point where you’re ready to heal and know that you’re ready to face your shame so that it can be addressed.
It’s really a matter of checking in with who you want to be. Hiding truth and holding onto pain isn’t always the best course of action. Sometimes we do it to protect others like children, but many times we do it to protect ourselves.
Face the shame and get it out of the way, or keep it and go through life in pain. The choice is yours.
Alright this last segment of The Overwhelmed Brain is called What’s On My Mind Right Now.
Like I said last week, I don’t know if this is going to be a segment that sticks around because usually what’s on my mind is what I just talked about. But I do have something that is on my mind right now, and that is how fast life disappears from us.
If you go to work every day, it’s amazing where those last 8, 10, 12, or however many hours just disappear.
Where did they go!?
And then you come home you like, “Wow, my whole day just disappeared, and now I have to take a shower or eat or do laundry or go to bed. Where is my life going?”
That’s when I hear people talk about being grateful for every moment in your life because that moment doesn’t exist again. But suddenly you’re doing the same thing the next day and you’re going to work and you’re coming home and you’re doing laundry and then you’re going to bed.
It’s sort of unavoidable sometimes because we need money. the world goes around with money so we have to do what we have to do. But sometimes we tend to forget that there are other people in our lives because we’re so consumed with what’s going on.
Now recently, if you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw me post something about my cat. This is what’s on my mind. My cat’s name is Ming and he’s been with me probably probably 17, 18 maybe 19 years or more! I don’t know the exact length of time, but he is an older guy.
This is the third relationship we’ve been in. We’ve been across country in several different states, as he travels with me everywhere. So he’s been my buddy! And I just found out a few days ago that he has cancer.
It has filled his abdomen area, his belly area. I’m not sure what it is, or what it’s attached to, but he now has cancer.
He’s been getting weaker and very thin, and he doesn’t appear to be in pain, but I have cried about this. I have been very sad to see him go like this because where has my life gone in the last 20 years?
I’ve been with him for almost 20 years of my life, and now he’s leaving. He’s going away, and he’s not going to be in my life anymore.
So what’s on my mind right now is that I don’t know life without Ming.
I don’t know life without my cat. He’s been such a good pet and friend to me, so I think about how many times that I could have maybe treated him a little better, thinking about how many times that I just didn’t want to be bothered by him.
I’d arrive home sometimes and hear him meowing, and I’d be like, “Alright, calm down, I’ll feed you!” acting all bothered. But now that the end is very near, I mean we’re talking the next couple days, I feel bad for being bothered.
I don’t know if he will last, but he’s not in pain. I’m watching and monitoring him very closely. I think to myself, Jeez, I could have been better to him. I could have been a better person. I could have been a better dad to him.
So when I think about all the time that has passed, and all the things I could have done, it really brings to mind what I need to do for the people that are in my life and other animals that might come into my life, and who I need to be at present.
I need to be there for other people no matter how bad my day was. Yes I’ll probably need some time to unwind and vent just to detoxify from the day sometimes, but if I have a tough day I need to find the time to be appreciative and grateful.
Life is so precious, and you never know when the people or animals in your life won’t be there anymore.
There’s not really much I can do for my cat right now except be with him every day and every hour I can. I always check on him to see what’s happening with him.
He’s still purring and he still responds. I don’t have to take any drastic steps yet, but I am ready to do what needs to be done to make sure he doesn’t suffer. And if there’s a person or animal in your life that is healthy and good, then take those moments that you can even when you don’t feel so good to be with them – even for a minute, or even 30 seconds!
Just give yourself that moment. Give them that moment, and acknowledge them.
So, that’s what’s on my mind, and that’s the show for today. Thanks so much thanks so much for joining me.
You know, we talked about forgiveness and shame, and all these things that don’t feel very good, but once you forgive yourself, you really do release so much.
I remember for the longest time I couldn’t forgive my stepfather. I didn’t even know I couldn’t forgive him because I didn’t even know I had anything against him!
In my thirties, sometime in 2005 near the end of my first long term relationship, after that relationship ended I started getting depressed. Well actually, before that relationship ended it started, but it got worse and worse.
Then, I met the person who would be my future wife, and she was this very high energy, happy person who met this slow, down, depressed guy. So at the time, she was realizing that she didn’t want to be around someone who was depressed.
So one day she told me, “You know, I don’t know what’s happening with you but I’m going to leave. If you ever figure it out, give me a call.”
I realized that I was starting to lose her, and something triggered inside of me. Something happened where I was like, “Oh my God, I’m losing another relationship.”
For some odd reason though, the feelings that were coming up somehow connected to how I felt about my stepfather. I know it’s strange, but you know, pain knows pain.
Having that pop up in my mind, I realized why I’d been depressed and why I’ve been not as happy as I could be, then suddenly getting more and more depressed recently.
The reason I’d been getting more and more depressed was because I had a hatred towards my stepfather. And that came as a complete surprise to me, because I really thought I had nothing against him.
But it turns out I did!
You can release what you’re holding on to today! I know, I make it sound so easy. I just cried and released years of pain and hatred.
Let me tell you what happened after my divorce though, that was hard. I had anger then too, but I was I wasn’t ready to forgive. I was just angry: “Why did you leave me? Why didn’t we work this out?”
So for about 2-3 months, I just held on to this anger. I didn’t like it, but I also felt like that I was doing better than I was after my last relationship ended.
One day my ex-wife reached out to me and tried to be friendly. I was like, “Okay, this time I’m going to tell her everything she did wrong and I’m going to accuse her of everything I can just to make her look like the bad guy and that I’m not responsible for what happened in our marriage.
We were chatting online and she got upset by what I said so she closed the chat window. Now I was really angry, so I opened up my email program and wrote everything she did wrong in the relationship and how none of this was my fault.
I told her, “You shouldn’t have done what you did, you should have given us a chance! We should have had therapy or something. This didn’t have to end!”
I wrote this three page letter and expressed everything on my mind. I really put her in her place.
Then I re-read the letter to make sure it said everything I wanted to say. However, I noticed that I didn’t have such an emotional charge anymore, so I changed things a bit and softened up. I still laid most of the blame on her, but I wasn’t as awful this time.
I reread the letter again, but this time, I didn’t feel at all what I felt earlier. In fact, I had completely released all the anger and blaming just by writing all the stuff I wanted to say to her!
I rewrote the letter for the third time and took almost all of the responsibility for the problems in our relationship. I said that we both did things that could have been better, but I take responsibility for my part of the problems.
Then I wished her well. I told her that I just want to disconnect for a while so that we can go on with our lives and maybe meet again in the future when none of this stings anymore.
And we stopped communicating.
And that’s when the healing really started.
I just finished listening to your podcast and my heart and gut are still wrenching.
I’ve always had the good fortune when it came to getting a good job or finding a good place to live – it was only relationships I needed to work on. I thought that was the universe showing me what I needed do.
After working for 13 years at a company and loving what I did (until the last 2 years when I realized I should just keep my head down), I thought I was still at the top of my game.
When I was laid off, after several years of using my severance pay, savings account an most of my retirement money, I moved to a small town knowing I could always work for minimum wage. It turned out that most of the jobs were minimum wage because the biggest employers (a healthcare company and a major grocery outlet) shipped all the jobs I would be good at to corporate headquarters in other states.
I can give you a number of reasons why I didn’t want to or couldn’t move, but I don’t really think they are relevant.
When I looked at all the ads for various local and online colleges, I realized that I had enough skills to do the jobs I wanted and that switching to a new career would be a waste of time and money.
There are quite a few people who think I consider myself “too good” to take on menial jobs. I looked at the fact that I never punched a time clock, never had to wear a uniform that literally made me profusely sweat, had supervisors that couldn’t care less about my ideas to make things better and/or more efficient and that I was never aware of even after high school I was really in shock.
I was used to people treating me with respect, making me comfortable, not worrying about when and how long I took breaks and lunches and knowing that I would put in whatever hours that were needed that when I got into a world outside of small companies it was truly a shocking experience.
I am now afraid of presenting myself as a capable employee because my references were local and could go back 30 years (especially when you consider the political issues that seem to be the norm now).
I’ve tried to speak out about the issues that matter to me, but it seems that they either fall on deaf ears or that no one else cares. That was one other thing I thought I could use to my advantage.
Because I live in a small town and no longer have a mortgage payment, my salary doesn’t even matter. However as much as I think it is a good thing for an employer, I’m told that I should not only not mention that fact but that it is a bad thing for me if I appear to sell myself short (even if I was a millionaire looking for a job to pass the time).