Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Yes in saying No

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I saw this image on the internet this morning and it caught my attention as a timely reminder of the importance of letting go. Of knowing that I can’t always make it okay for other people, I can’t always keep on giving or solving others problems relentlessly in the hope of being liked or respected in return. It is not my job to do that beyond a point at which I am comfortable or able to without detriment to myself. I hold both hands up and admit I am hopeless at setting my personal boundaries and have a long history of allowing people to invade my personal space when I didn’t want them to. I have changed and moulded myself to suit others and to say yes when really I mean a loud and definite no. I have often found myself giving far beyond the point of what is needed or what is healthy and always regardless of how the recipient treats me. On my journey towards setting important boundaries and living a life that is true to who I am, not who I feel I ought to be, I have come to know that I did those things in order to feel a greater sense of self worth.

 

Day by day I am learning that I don’t need to give just because someone asks me to do so. I know that true giving comes from the heart and not from neediness or a feeling of obligation. I can decline respectfully when I need to and hold something back for me. I can say no with politeness and grace and choose to say yes to my needs instead of throwing them to the wind in favour of pleasing others. As I practice the art of saying no and of letting go where my fear asks me to give more when really it is not my place to do so, I am learning a new form of self respect and worth. And interestingly I then have more to give and I do so freely with a huge sense of joy and love.

 

What made me write about this was hearing from someone in my past whom I had stopped being in touch with a long time ago. There had been much hurt between us; that person had turned my life upside down and left me and my life in tatters for me to rebuild. Until now, they had held back from offering any apology or compassion. That person had walked away when I was on my knees and they hadn’t looked back. They had got in touch two years down the line to apologise and wished to renew our friendship. I suspect that fairly radical and recent changes in their own life had brought about a sense of wanting to find peace and heal their past – great stuff. I am appreciative of that apology and it must have taken courage to get in touch. The old version of me would have leapt to be their friend and make it okay for them. A part of me wanted to do so, almost did as much, and then suddenly I realised one simple fact.

 

It is no longer my responsibility

 

It is not my responsibility to heal their wounds and offer soothing words (which may not have been needed or asked for anyway). They didn’t jump a puddle for me when I was in much need of support (or wellingtons) and yet there I was, for just a moment, willing to cross oceans again to help them. Today I chose to say thank you and no, politely, and I reigned myself in from trying to fix it for them. I wished them well with a genuine sense of compassion in my heart and let them go with love and hope for their future. And the best bit of doing so? It feels fantastic. I am amazed and in awe of the fact that a simple two letter word NO can bring such peace. I am in my wellies, I have drawn a mark in the sand called ‘my personal boundary’ and I am merrily skipping onwards. May you have a lovely day, draw your own line in the sand if you need to, and practice saying no. 

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A Little Perspective

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“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aureliu

 

Perspective

It’s all a matter of perspective and I was wrong. Again.

I am embarrassed to admit that actually yes it was my mistake and, through looking at the situation from my perspective only, I got it wrong. I hurt someone just as much as they hurt me yet I failed to see that this week. I simply didn’t recognise that my actions had hurt them, that my actions had been part of the problem as well as theirs. I had only thought about my hurt, my pride and hadn’t even considered anything outside of ME. I was staggered when someone pointed out a different perspective from mine regarding the situation and I realised I had been a touch narrow minded (to say the least!) and was well overdue offering an apology. I generally consider myself open minded and thoughtful, yet clearly not then. I brooded momentarily and asked myself

 

Have I overreacted and shown such a lack of perspective before? Do I often get it this wrong?

Um, yes.

 

I looked back over the years and asked myself if there were times when I had made similar mistakes, purely because I didn’t step back and look at the situation from the perspective of others involved. I am sad to say I counted a number of those occasions where, in hindsight, I should have looked at the situation differently and put things right more quickly than I chose to. I should have had enough self-awareness to recognise my part in the drama and apologised. I lost one of my oldest and dearest childhood friends after a series of decisions and an argument that resulted in us not speaking for almost two years. TWO years. We had seen each other through tumultuous teenage years, university adventures and the world of being adults (read drinking coffee at Starbucks and going shopping – we had that down to an art form I can tell you). I missed out on her marriage and the birth of her beautiful daughter. She missed out on, well, one or two disasters in my life when I needed her more than ever. Put simply, we missed out on each other and that still pains me. I am incredibly thankful that she had the courage to pick up the phone one Christmas and say hello. I had missed her so much and hadn’t known how to say

 

I am sorry. I was wrong. You hurt me, I hurt you but I still love you.

 

And it really was that simple when we reunited in person and said those words. I was terrified as I sat in the cafe awaiting her arrival, fidgeting nervously and tearing at my flimsy napkin. She walked in, beautiful and smiling as always and we held each other as those two years melted away. All we had needed to do was talk, express our hurt, apologise and move on. We had barely changed and slipped back into our old, comfortable friendship quickly. Neither of us understands to this day what really happened between us that had created such a rift. But when I consider how I treated her I am forever humbled by her forgiveness and friendship. I remember apologising again after our reunion and she simply said

 

It is okay. I am in this for life and I’ll always be here

 

What an incredible woman. Heaven help me I then remembered other occasions where close friendships had drifted since then; misunderstandings had begun due to cause hurt but thankfully we had put them right and moved on. We had the ability to look at the problem from perspectives other than our own, talked it through without judgement, apologised and laughed our way through it. It seems obvious to say this now but I began to realise that relationships of all kinds have ups and downs, misunderstandings and narrow mindedness on occasion. Ego and Pride get in the way and 99% of the time all that is needed is a little perspective, an apology and a hug. Again, it really is that simple. How do we not all know and practice this simple act more every single day?!

 

 Perspective + Apology + Hug = Problem solved. Happy Days

 

 Forgiveness

 

With this in mind, I decided yesterday to say sorry from the bottom of my heart. I apologised to the first person I mentioned in this post and, no surprises, we hugged, laughed and moved on. I wish we had spoken a number of weeks ago rather than letting things fester until now. My second apology was more difficult; it was for my ex-partner who at times had been very abusive to me. I have no doubt now that he had not intended to hurt me. He was simply hurting himself and projecting his own insecurities onto me but I played my part in that. I had feared getting in touch for a long time given the impact he had on my mental health previously but it was time to apologise. So I sent my apology for the hurt and pain I had caused him, forgave him silently inside and wished him every happiness in life. I wish I had done that sooner as well.

This led me onto my third apology of the day; one for me. Whilst I may not be able to hug myself I at least gained some perspective and apologised to myself for every time I looked at my behaviour and said ‘I wish I had…’ ‘I should have…’ ‘Why didn’t I..’    Why did I do that?

Because, quite frankly, I am only human. It is clear I make a LOT of mistakes at times but I deserve forgiveness as well. We all do. A big part of my own journey in life, as well as learning the art of Sorry towards others this week, is accepting myself and offering up forgiveness of me for my own shortcomings. I am not perfect and mistakes will continue to be made by me and my pesky Ego. But I hope that through forgiveness, acceptance and understanding I can learn and lessen the impact of my mistakes in the future. Offer up my apologies and hugs more quickly as it were. To return to a sentence earlier but slightly reworded:

 

 I am sorry. I was wrong. You hurt me, I hurt you AND I still love you.

 

The AND is everything. Love isn’t about being perfectly flawless, not making mistakes, not hurting anyone. It isn’t about ‘but I still love you’. It is about loving one another because of our innate humanness. Recognising that yes we will hurt each other AND we will still love each other regardless; because that is what unconditional love does. It forgives and just carries on giving. As my dear friend said

 

I’m in this for life and I’ll always be here