The first segment is about a young woman who keeps getting “ghosted” by her dates. It’s starting to impact her self-esteem and she’s wondering if she’ll ever find a life partner.
In the second segment, I reply to someone who wants to hate those who’ve wronged her, but her spirituality says it’s better to forgive.
Sounds like a great subject to talk about.
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
Someone wrote to me and said, “I love your show. You’ve helped me so much and I tell all my friends and family about your podcast, feel free to use my real name. I’m 25. I’ve gone on about 10 to 12 days. In the past two and a half years, every single time I get ghosted, or will date for a few weeks, and then I’ll get ghosted…
Just in case, somebody’s not heard of that term. ghosting is when somebody pretty much disappears. You’re getting along great. Maybe you talked to him a couple days ago, and now they’re not answering texts, they’re not returning your calls. They just simply slip out of existence.
You have no idea where they are and you have no idea why they’re not calling you back. You don’t know what you did wrong, and you wonder what the heck they’re thinking. They don’t share anything, they just disappear.
Some people do this because it’s easier than facing reality. I’m not making an excuse for them and I’m not giving them any leniency because I think ghosting is kind of wrong. It’s not a good thing to do unless you are being harassed or abused by the person.
If they are intimidating, harassing, or just scary to be around, then ghosting is perfectly welcome in my book because that means you’re avoiding something that could be very harmful to you. But we don’t call that ghosting, we call that no contact when it’s like that.
In this person’s case, she’s saying “I get ghosted. This person is disappearing, and I’ve gotten 10 to 12 dates in the past two and a half years and I just get ghosted.”
She goes on to say, “I like to think of myself as chill, emotionally intelligent, an old soul for my age… I want to meet a guy who can be my best friend and life partner. I always think back to your episode when you talk about the 10 things to look for at the start of a relationship. And every time I look for those signs, and when things seem to be going well I still get ghosted. What am I doing wrong? I know it’s their problem, not mine, but I can’t help but think it’s me and it’s seriously affecting my self-esteem. “
Okay, so that was Morgan. You said I could use your name Morgan.
Thank you so much for writing this. I feel for you, definitely. First of all, you’re at the age were the guys in your age range, they’re not going to be the “old soul” that you are maybe? You’re going to find them, but they’re fewer and farther between.
What I mean is that it’s harder to find guys your age that are, perhaps, as emotionally mature as you are. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, they absolutely do exist. It wasn’t me at that age. If you’re looking in the 22 to 28 range because you’re 25, you’re going to hit a lot of misses, or you’re going to miss a lot of hits or something like that. You’re going to not going to have much of a great selection of people that might fall in the same type of personality that you’re looking for.
I’m taking a guess here though. You could be looking for somebody completely opposite of what I’m thinking. But that doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is that you find someone that you get along, with that you’re compatible with and that’s actually going to stick around and not ghost you.
But yes, the younger male generation typically has more growing up to do. And I don’t mean to be offensive to any younger males listening to this. If you’re a younger male and you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “What? That’s not me! That’s not who I am!” Then kudos to you, you’re about a generation ahead of me when I was that age.
I was certainly immature at that age. And I don’t mean you’re playing with your Matchbox cars or anything like that, although you could be I don’t have anything against that. I’m saying “immature” as far as the emotional spectrum on connecting with people, and really understanding and being sympathetic, and showing emotional intelligence without getting angry at people for no reason.
There’s a level of emotional growth that has to take place that sometimes doesn’t, especially in men. There does seem to be a different journey for a lot of men – the emotional intelligence journey – knowing how to connect with the opposite sex (or the same sex that they’re gay), as far as looking for love, looking for connection, and knowing how to be a good romantic partner.
That’s how I look at things is that a lot of young people don’t have too much experience being an ideal romantic partner. This is where I’m going to go with you. This isn’t going to be a long answer because I don’t have enough information like, I don’t know what you’re doing that might turn guys off or something. It may be nothing you’re doing that turns them off.
It may be a certain dating app that you’re using that is you for other things like hookups and that’s what it’s known for, but you’re trying to find a long term boyfriend, or I don’t know.
I don’t know how you’re meeting these people, if they’re blind dates. I think the things I just listed might have something to do with it… or not. The first place I go to when it comes to anywhere in the teens and 20s, is that because you’re young, the selection is going to be much different, especially if you are what you say, an old soul, which tells me that you have probably a mature perspective of the world, you have a mature perspective of relationships, and you know what you’re looking forward probably in a relationship. And you are dealing with a segment of the population that probably just wants to have fun and connect, and just wants to take it day by day and see what’s happening. And maybe for them, if the connection doesn’t work, they’ll go to the next person. I don’t know.
I don’t know if that’s the case with these guys. I know you will meet the right guy soon enough but the good news is you are in your 20s so this means that as you grow older and as your selection of men changes (because that’s typically what happens. We certainly have our preferences in what we look for in a romantic partner), your taste and what you look for in a partner sometimes changes.
In my youth, all I cared about, and the first thing I looked at when it came to a romantic partner was their body. I’m serious. It’s shallow and I hate to admit it, but I was a young guy, my hormones were on fire, and I was just in that space. At that time, that’s what I wanted. That’s what I was looking at. That’s what I was focused on. That’s what I couldn’t get off my mind.
That’s why I moved to a beach state, Florida. I wanted to be near those bodies. I have a feeling there’s a large segment of young men out there that, like me at that time, that’s the first thing they look at. But I will tell you my excuse: I was hard-wired that way. I was hard-wired to procreate. I was a young male on the prowl, even though that sounds very predatory (I wasn’t a predator. I’d say a lot of men probably aren’t predators.)
There is a segment of young men that the body is the first thing they see. The reason I say that is not because that’s what you’re dealing with, although you will have to deal with that. To be honest, there will be young men out there that you will have to deal with that about them. And there will be older men out there that you will have to deal with that too. But some men know how to control it, keep it in check, and not let it be the primary reason to be in a relationship – There are a lot of men like that too.
The other side of this is that, yes, there are men that see that first, and then there are men that see that first and it may not be the deciding factor. I saw many bodies when I was younger that I was definitely attracted to but I would not be in a relationship with some of these people because I just did not like their personality.
The reason I’m telling you this is because there are men out there that may not get to the personality part. There are men out there that do want the hookup. Because they’re younger and their hormones are raging, you’re going to run into that part of the male population, and hopefully, who you’re meeting are nice guys and are going to keep that in check.
I know this sounds disappointing. It sounds like I’m painting a picture that maybe you should just stay out of the game but that’s not it at all. I’m just giving you the hard facts that there are guys like that and you may be selecting from a pool of guys that are in that type of frame of mind.
If that is the type of selection you have, then I want you to be cognizant of where your selection is coming from. Are they all your close friends? And do all your close friends like to party and hook up?
I promise, I’m not trying to throw any assumptions or judgments your way. I just want to have you think about this stuff. Where is the pool of man that you’re selecting coming from? Is it on a dating app? If it is, maybe switching apps and finding one that is more in tune with you might be helpful.
I got that out of the way. I don’t know if any of that applies. It may not. I just wanted to throw that at you because I was 25 once. And when I was 25, I was really 18. I was really a lot younger in maturity and it took me a while to mature. It’s taken me decades.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find a young guy that has a childlike personality but makes adult decisions and wants a long term relationship. That is absolutely out there, I know it is, because some young guys write to me and they sound much more mature than the way I was back then.
There are guys out there that are opposite of the maturity level that I’m talking about now. They are out there. It’s just that they’re scattered about, and you may have to go on date after date. That might sound like bad news, but you might have to go several dates until you find the right guy, until there’s someone that really stands out and you realize, wow, this person isn’t ghosting me. They’re paying attention to me. They care about me. They want to see me. There’s a lot of compatibility. They’re saying the right things, they’re doing the right things, they’re not being overly aggressive, they’re not being overtly love-bombing and gift bombing (and things like that I talk about on my Love and Abuse podcast).
You could find a guy that is doing a lot of things that are right in alignment with what you want in a relationship. If you’re anything like my girlfriend before we met, she said she wasn’t going to settle. She said, “I will not settle and I would rather be single for the rest of my life.”
That is hard for some people, but she chose not to settle for anything less than what she wanted. In this world, when you don’t settle, you don’t get what you don’t want. Do you get what you want?
If you don’t get what you don’t want, then all that’s left is what you want.
I won’t try to put together that puzzle but that is something I’ve learned is that when I decide not to take what I don’t want, then what I want is the only thing that’s left over and what I end up with. So there’s a little bit of spiritual aspect in there, maybe you could look at it that way but it’s also scientific because it’s a process of elimination. It’s a practical way to look at things as well.
But yes, you may have to go on a lot more dates if you’re looking for someone specific. I’m not going to just leave it there because there’s one more thing that I need to say about this. There are a couple things that you said in your email that may be interfering in some way. That is you’re looking for a life partner and you’re an old soul for your age.
This tells me that maybe you are looking for a very long-term relationship and that vibe is coming out while you’re dating, especially the first few weeks.
Does it have to come out that early? Maybe you’re not saying this; Maybe you don’t say that at all but I bet you there are certain things that you do say that maybe come out while you’re dating that, I don’t know, maybe scares some people off?
I swear I’m not trying to blame this on you or make you the reason people are doing this because I don’t believe in ghosting. I think they should have a talk about and say, “Hey, we had a great time. I just don’t feel the compatibility.” Or “There’s something that you said that kind of scares me and I don’t want to go in that direction. So I don’t really want to see you again.” Hopefully, they say it nicer than that but it’s so much nicer to have some closure from someone instead of them just disappearing.
I really want you to check in with yourself and be aware of what you’re talking about, how you say it, and what you’re saying just in case you’re saying something to people that might want to live day to day and just enjoy the moment, instead of what they might fear like talk about you wanting a life partner and maybe kids and you want to get married and you want a home in the suburbs, etc. If you’re saying all this stuff, it’s great that you can share stuff like this and just let it all out because the right person is going to resonate with that and connect with it.
But the right person may also want to just live for today and be present with you today, and then go on another date and live for that day and be present for that day. They may not be thinking about the future.
I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying that in your 20s, you’re still young. You’re still trying to figure out the world and figure out your place in the world. If I was in my 20s, and I was on a date and she said, “I really want to get married someday. In fact, the sooner the better. And I’d like to have some kids, the sooner the better.”
I’m not saying you’re saying that but when I hear that, I’m thinking “Whoa! That’s a little too fast for me. And why are we talking about this so soon? I thought we were just going to go to the movies!”
If that kind of conversation is coming up, any of the long-term stuff, then you find that people ghost you, it might be that. But, I can’t say. I don’t have enough information about what you’re doing, what they’re doing, if there’s something else happening that makes them disappear.
You might want to start taking notes. Like, “Okay, the last thing we talked about was this and this, and then they didn’t call me anymore.” I will say this if they are more interested in having sex with you, wanting a hook up, and you want to wait, and they say, “Okay, that’s cool, no problem,” but then they ghost you, I can pretty much connect the dots and I hope you can too.
What I mean by scenario is that it does sound like they’re after just one thing. If you’re not into that one thing, then what’s happening is you’re weeding out the people that you don’t need in your life. I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want you to just give in if somebody wants it and you don’t.
Weed these people out. And as you do, the people you end up with will be the ones that will respect you, treat you nicely, honor your boundaries, give you the space you need, be interested in you but not be aggressive or assertive or anything like that. They’ll just enjoy your company. So those thoughts (about the long-term stuff) came to my mind too.
Let me just end talking about this email with this comment, which is something that I learned very late in life: Any time you go on a date, you don’t treat it as a date, you treat it as meeting a friend. Or you’re trying to be friends, learning about your friend, being interested in your friend, being interested in your friend’s history and what their life goals are, and not trying to compare them or synchronize them with your life goals and your journey and what you’re going through.
What I mean by that is, if you were to meet someone that you would rather have as a friend, and they would rather have as a friend in you, how would you act then?
This is the difference between going to a job interview, wanting the job so badly that you’re nervous, and going to a job interview and telling yourself “This job doesn’t matter. I don’t even care if I get it.”
The difference is how you show up. It changes how authentic you are going to be. I’ve tested this. I’ve gone to job interviews where I told myself, “Look, I don’t care if I get this job. If I get it or not, it doesn’t matter because I don’t want to spend my time trying to impress them. I’m not going to care if I get it.”
Sure, I wanted it but I didn’t want to be nervous. I don’t want to try to impress them. I don’t want to say stupid things and say Yes, sir or Yes, ma’am. I’m just going to act like myself. I want to go in there and act like myself. And how would I act if I totally didn’t care?
If I were dating, that’s how I treat the date. I would treat the date as if I did not care if we were going to be a couple or not. That wouldn’t even be on my radar (though it might be deep down because I really want a romantic relationship) If I go into a situation, wanting something, and hoping it works out, then that energy is going to come out of me.
That energy is going to come out in ways that will be picked up by the other person. They may be in a space of “I just wanted to enjoy this date” and you might be in a space of “I hope he really enjoys this date and he asks me out again because I really want someone as a life partner.”
Putting that out there, thinking “Maybe you’re going to be my life partner!” That kind of vibe might scare some people off. It may not even be in the words you say. Maybe it’s way you look at them like, “Oh my God, this could be the one. Is he the one?” and your face shows that, if that’s being picked up, then it could be scaring some people off. Maybe they don’t want to think that long term. Maybe they’re too young to think about life partner stuff.
This is what I get from your email. Like I said, there’s very little information for me to work on here so I’m really reaching and trying to grab at anything I could get out of your message so that you have something to work with, something practical.
Maybe what I said today helps, or maybe I’m way off. I’m open to being wrong about everything I just said. Because again, I don’t have enough information. I will say this, you did say it’s their problem, not mine and you also follow that up saying “I can’t help but think it’s me and it’s seriously affecting my self-esteem.” So if anything I said was true… if anything I said about you giving out that vibe, that energy that you want something long-term, that this could be the one, that maybe you could be married someday… If any of that’s in there, then it is possible they’re picking that up.
And if you already have a low sense of self-esteem or self-worth going into it, then it’s possible they’re picking up on that vibe too. I know that sounds like I’m pointing at you again, but you’re the only person I can talk to right now. I can’t talk to your dates.
If you’re going to work on anything, it’s to be secure in yourself knowing that you are a damn catch. I don’t care how tall you are, short you are, big you are, small you are, skinny, fat… doesn’t matter. I don’t care if you’re bald or have hair down to your butt, it doesn’t matter.
I’m just saying all of the above doesn’t matter because if you know you’re a damn catch, and you just wear that proudly and not let it go to your head, but you just know you’re a catch and you’ve got a great personality and you care about people and you’re respectful and kind, if you know this about yourself, then that vibe doesn’t come out at all. You just carry yourself well.
If somebody ghosts you again, they don’t know what they’re missing! And you wear that proudly. Like, “Whoa, they don’t know what they’re missing. That poor guy! That poor guy is going to miss out on this.”
You may have to do a little bit of ego work. If your self-esteem is really being affected, I want you to look up anything where I talk about ego on my website. Because the opposite of low self-esteem is a healthy ego.
Once you have a healthy ego, your self-esteem will rise. So listen to those episodes on ego and make sure that you do have a healthy ego and healthy self-perception so that when you go into situations knowing there could be ghosting or rejection or anything like that (and you may have to go through it another 10 or 12 more times because you’re weeding out the bad to get to the good), then when something doesn’t work out, you can pick yourself back up and keep going because you know it’s not you.
I know this is a process. And I know if it happens 20 more times, you’re just going to be down in the dumps. I get it. I know what that feels like. When it was happening to me when I was younger, because when I was in my 20s, that was happening to me, too. I was getting rejected all the time. I did take a hit.
Then I realized, “Oh, I’m getting rejected a lot because I’m so desperate.” I’m not saying you are, but I felt way desperate back then and I was giving off that vibe, that energy. I was kind of like a lost puppy looking for an owner and it wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t a good way to look for a date or a new friend.
In fact, I didn’t even treat potential partners as friends. I just treated them as future partners. I mentioned that earlier. When you treat somebody as a friend, you come off a lot different. When there’s an issue, it’s not such a big deal, because hey, they’re your friend! When you start getting closer, then you start treating your friend a little bit differently and it turns into something more.
Let me give you one last piece of advice: fall in love slowly. Don’t see all the great stuff in someone on the first date, or the fifth date, just fall in love slowly. Start having feelings very slowly because if you’re anything like me when I was younger, I fell in love so fast. I kept getting my heart broken, and it just felt awful.
It is helpful to just take things slower, and hopefully that will allow you to continue filtering men out that are won’t fit your criteria. And know that now that you’re really dealing with this, now that you’re really addressing it, just realize that as you address this in yourself, as you reflect on it, as you realize ‘you’re right, it’s not me. It’s just an incompatibility.’ Or ‘we’re not meeting in the same place.’
Try to experience the moment, try to be present, and just try to connect at the level you’re at today. If future has in mind for you to be in a relationship, then maybe that’ll happen. I know you’re 25 and you’re looking for the right person, but sometimes it does take a little longer.
The good news is, and I know you don’t want to wait, you really have a long time. You really have a long time to find the right person. It’s more fun with somebody else, yes, as long as they’re the right person. I don’t want you to end up with the wrong person, I want you to end up the right person.
I don’t know if this helps. You may have to write me back and fill me in about exactly what else was going on but I hope this does help. Send me an update sometime.
Now I’ll read you the second message I received. In fact, I’m not going to read you the entire email. I’m going to read you one line from the email because this line stuck out to me so much that I think I need to talk about it.
I’ve talked about it in the past, but not from this angle. The line in this email says a lot. I want you to hear it, I’m going to read it now:
“I hate them so much. Yet as a spiritual person, I know I need to forgive.”
I want you to soak that in. What does that mean to you? If you’ve been listening a while, you probably know what I’m going to say about forgiveness but let me just answer this person without reading any of the rest of the email because this person is struggling.
In that one sentence, I can read she’s struggling with being spiritual and hating them. Let me say this, and this might be controversial, it is not not spiritual to hate.
I know it might be a surprise to some people to hear me say that, or maybe some might think, “That sounds like something Paul would say.”
It is not not spiritual to hate.
In fact, I would say it’s anti-spiritual if you ever want to be in a place of Zen, in a place of peace, to not hate.
What do I mean by that? I’m not saying that hate is a great thing and we should all do it, well, I am sort of saying that only if hate permeates your very being. If hate is in you and you have an internal resistance to hating because you’re spiritual and moral, and you’re a good person… if any of these exist inside you and you’re a great person otherwise, and hating is against your values, then what you might be doing (and in this person’s case, I believe she is) is carrying around a conflict and resistance so that you’re never able to be who you want to be. For this person, she may never fully realize her spirituality because she won’t allow herself to go there.
She wrote, “I hate them so much, yet as a spiritual person. I know I need to forgive.”
No. You don’t. You don’t need to forgive.
I know that’s controversial. I know that’s against maybe a lot of spiritual teachings. You don’t have to listen to me. You can shut this off right now and say, “What? How dare he say that! Everyone should forgive. Everyone should have the ability to forgive. That’s how we move on.”
My take on forgiveness is no, that’s not how we move on. It’s not about forgiving someone. It’s not about forgiving the other person. My take on forgiveness is always looking at who you were at the time and how you showed up at the time of the event in question. That’s one part of this.
The other part is, if you don’t allow yourself to hate, it will never be released. It will stay in there and it will fester and it will continue to be a conflict inside of you. It will continue to feel like a resistance and a bad feeling inside of you.
You will get emotionally triggered by the person in question or the people in question. If you never allow yourself to fully hate, it stays. That doesn’t mean you can’t forgive for the hate to go away. I’m not saying that at all. If you are the type of person that can really soak in forgiveness and forgive someone else and have no ill will or ill feelings toward them, don’t listen to me.
But if you are the type of person like I’ve always been, this is how I am, if somebody wronged me or someone I love so badly that I just hate the person, then I need to be allowed to hate that person, and curse them in my mind and really want them to be hurt, or maybe my mind will go into a space of wanting them to die.
That sounds so awful. That sounds so anti-spiritual. I know it does. I don’t even like saying it because somebody might take it wrong. Somebody might think I’m giving the worst advice ever. And it might be the worst advice ever, I’m open to that.
But let me say this, if you have hate in you, then you should allow it to come up, really feel it, allow yourself to hate. Don’t stop yourself from hating. Allow it to come to your mind. Allow it to come through you and out of you in a safe place, maybe not around other people unless they’re safe too and you can express it.
If it comes up and out of you and you just say “I hate that person so much. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him (or her).” You might find yourself finally letting go of the hate without the need for forgiveness.
Not that you can’t forgive after that, but it makes it easier. If you want to forgive after that you can if you’d like. My story around hate is I didn’t realize how much I hated my stepfather my entire life. I didn’t realize it until my mid 30s when I was in the peak of depression and I met this girl and we started dating. She noticed how depressed I was and she said, “I can’t be around you. You’re just really in this bad space and I’m in this other space, and I’m happy but you’re not. I don’t know if I can be around you at this time”.
That’s when things came to a crash in my mind. I had lost all those relationships. Suddenly out of nowhere, I had no idea where it came from, I just started crying and I yelled, “I hate my stepfather so much. I hate him, I hate him!”
It was the first time I’d ever said that out loud. It was the first time I ever thought it. I never even thought about hating him. He was an abusive alcoholic in my family. Fortunately, I didn’t take the brunt of the abuse but unfortunately, my mom did. and my other siblings had to deal with some really bad stuff.
I was scared most of my life living in that house. I didn’t realize how much hatred I developed for him. It was weird because I also loved him. It’s a strange feeling because when you bond and you attach, and you’re with someone for a long time, and they show up half the time as a nice kind person, and they seem to love you and the other times they’re a monster, you don’t know how to deal with it.
I came out of that family not knowing how to deal with these emotions that I had in me. Not even realizing I had hate. I also had a moral compass that told me “hating is bad. You shouldn’t hate anyone. You shouldn’t even say the word hate.” I was brought up to believe that hating was bad.
What did I do? I forced it back down. I resisted hating. When you resist something that’s inside of you and you never let it out, it stays in there. It doesn’t go away.
So back then I discovered that I had hate inside of me (something that I “wasn’t supposed to have”) and for the first time I was able to let it out and cry. I fell on the floor. I just was losing it. I was having a little breakdown.
It was one of the most pivotal moments of my life because it was the first time that I had released so much negative energy that I was carrying around. It was one huge step toward the beginning of getting out of my depression.
When you hold on to such negativity for so long, you could get depressed. I look at depression as the suppression of thought, which leads to the repression of emotion, which leads to depression.
So you have a thought and you go, “Oh, no, I can’t have that thought. I can’t have hate.I need to suppress that.” Then you have the emotion around that: “Yeah, but I hate! Ahh, I just have this feeling and I want to hate him (or her) so badly. That’s not right. That’s immoral. I shouldn’t think that. I shouldn’t feel that” so you repress those feelings. Then you hold on to them.
As you hold on to them over the days, weeks, months, and years, you stop feeling some things. This is what I’m saying is that, if you’re a spiritual person, I believe you should experience the entire breadth of the emotional spectrum of what’s available. Because whatever you resist persists. But it does so underneath the layers. And it persists down there creating resistance in your body and causing problems in your life.
Like this person wrote, “I hate them so much yet as a spiritual person I know I need to forgive.” I wonder how long she’s been holding on to that?
This is something that forgiveness fools us into: Thinking that forgiveness is the path to releasing these negative emotions.
I do believe that some people can do this. I’m not capable of forgiving someone else first. I first either have to allow the emotions to come up and out of me, and they’re expressed, and I can punch a pillow or I can take a run (which I probably wouldn’t do) and I would probably just somehow release it or tell my girlfriend: “I just hate them so much,” or “I’m so angry!” which helps give those emotions a voice and help them express themselves to let them out in some way. Because that energy builds up you.
What do you do with it? If you suppress it and tell yourself, “Whoa, I’m a spiritual person. No, I can’t feel that. I can’t think that because I’m a spiritual person and I’m not supposed to go there…” Then what you’re doing is forcing it back down. You’re keeping the negative energy in there so that you can’t reach a level of enlightenment, or heightened spirituality, or whatever you’re trying to attain, because what’s in there doesn’t get out. It stays in there.
I don’t forgive them first, I actually express first. Then the second thing I do is forgive myself. I know some people might think, “Yeah, but if it’s not your fault, why do you need to forgive yourself? You didn’t cause your stepfather to do any of that stuff.”
In every event that happens in your life that you have negative feelings about, there’s almost always a sliver or more of self-blame. This is so important to comprehend and really apply in your life, even if you don’t think that you are blaming yourself at all.
I didn’t think any of this was my fault (my stepfather and the way he treated me), but when I think back on what I could have done differently and how I could have shown up differently, then perhaps there’s a little bit of self-blame in there because I might believe I should have done something different. I could have shown up in a different way. I could have said something. I was old enough. I was strong enough to stand up to him and protect my mom. I could have done a lot of things that I didn’t so maybe there’s some self-blame in there. So what do I need to do?
I need to tell myself, “I forgive you for the way you showed up back then. I forgive you for not being able to think of the right thing to say or not be able to do the thing that maybe you should have done. I forgive you for that because you didn’t know any better. How could you have possibly have known any better because if you knew any better, you would have done better. You would have done something different. So this isn’t your fault, Paul (or the person who wrote, or whoever needs to hear this). This isn’t your fault. I forgive you. It’s okay. You can get past this. I forgive you for how you showed up.”
I’m going to tell myself this. “I forgive myself for how I showed up that day and for the fact that I didn’t do things in a certain way didn’t say things that I should have said back then. I forgive myself for not being the person I needed to be that I know I can be now. I didn’t have the tools or the resources back then. I forgive myself.”
I might even look at myself in the second person, I’m dissociated, and I might say, “Paul, I forgive you It’s okay. There was nothing more you could have done because you didn’t have the tools and the resources you have now. You did the best you can with the tools and resources that you had, and I forgive you.”
When you can come to that place inside of you and forgive yourself for any hint of self-blame that might be going on in there, that to me is truly what forgiveness is all about. And, yes, you can also forgive the other person or people. You can! But I believe you have to get through those two steps first. The emotion has to come up and out of you, and the self-forgiveness has to take place even if you don’t necessarily feel it, just try it on and see what happens when you say that to yourself.
Then number three, if you want, you can forgive that person. But by then, you won’t even be mad at them, you won’t even hate them, you won’t have any negativity toward them at all. If you do the first two steps, the negativity is going to disappear and the forgiveness will be a given. It’ll happen automatically. You won’t even have to think about it.
When I think about my stepfather now, I have no ill feelings even though I still think he’s bad news (I know he is, he’s bad news) but I am not carrying around the burden of hatred toward him. It’s gone.
That burden no longer hinders me, it no longer creates a resistance inside my body and I can walk around more “enlightened”, whatever that means. I can walk around free of that negativity.
So that’s what I’m telling this person who wrote to me. I hope this helps, and anyone listening, I hope this helps you too. I don’t think there’s any emotion out there that’s necessarily bad or immoral because why would we have them?
Why would we have any emotion we feel if they were bad or immoral? We’re not inherently bad or immoral! We’re born an empty vessel and we experience emotions. We experience anger and hate when we’re kids. How many times have you heard kids say, “I hate you”? It’s sad of course. I don’t want to hear those words myself, but kids want to vent this stuff out.
But believe it or not, when they vent it out, when they say these things, it gives them an opportunity to release them so they don’t hold on to them.
Imagine if you said to a kid, “Never say that again. You shouldn’t hate anyone.” There might be parents out there that say that, and I’m not putting you down for that. I’m just saying if they aren’t allowed to express this stuff, we’ve got to wonder where it goes. We’ve got to wonder what’s happening to those emotions.
This will be my last thought today, and I’m saying the following from a non-parent point of view so take it or leave it:
I think that you can ask your kid questions like:
Why do you hate me? or
Why do you hate that person? and
Tell me what’s going on inside you.
When you have a conversation with them and allow the child to explore this with you to release the negative energy, because there are a lot of emotions they’re feeling and they don’t know what to do with them. They want to express them, and maybe if somebody came along and said, “Tell me more about what you’re feeling” without any judgment and without saying “You shouldn’t say that. You shouldn’t think that”, it would prevent them from repressing those feelings and give them an opportunity to express them in a safe environment so that they grow up a bit more mentally healthy.
That way they’re not holding anything back. And they’re not walking around with resistance or feeling bad, or all of those negative feelings that some of us tend to hold on to.
I know kids are still growing and they’re still learning, and they might go through this stuff and forget everything that they did in their childhood, but I’m throwing this out there just in case it’s something that you may want to try out with your kids if you have them.
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