I've known a piece of the puzzle was missing for a while.
When these words were spoken, they hit me in the heart. They even left me with an action step.
"Just as we exercise and eat well for the health of our body, we practice forgiveness for the health of our soul."Three things I have to say.
1. Forgiving yourself is the first step to loving yourself and having happiness.
Oh man. This one is tough. Not forgiving yourself is a surefire way to fall back into your old ways, your old hurts, your old habits. I've been dealing with a cycle of depression and pain, and while it is not clinically bad, at the heart of it is this inability to forgive myself for the hurt I caused myself and for the guilt. I chose to stay in a state of wallowing in heartache. I did not accept the truth. I chose to blame others for my feelings. That doesn't make any sense! And it doesn't solve any problems. The answer is Forgiveness.
2. Just as there are no levels of love, there are no levels of forgiveness. It's a sliding scale.
I have done research on the types of love. The problem all researchers get into is how to define and classify love. They break things down into 3-6 categories, then when two of them interact, they call that another form of love. It's all true and well and good, but just as the eyes can see variations in colors into the millions, so love feels and is different in variations outside of those combinations. There are more intense colors and more intense feelings of connectedness than can be classified.
3. You have to PRACTICE.
Love in a marriage is hard to maintain. You have to work at it. That's because it is beyond the emotional highs that got you there. The love changes. It becomes something more comfortable and less exciting. Forgiveness requires that you practice it to do it. It is beyond the emotional lows that got you there. Forgiveness is more than the quick "I'm sorry" that slips out when you break someone's prized vase. It requires that you choose to actively not remember, yet still learn from it. It requires that you not hold something over another. You let it go. Don't hold grudges.
That being said, I find it easier to forgive others than myself. It's easier when the hurt you feel is caused by some small infraction.
The same holds true for yourself.
Never are my students more mad than when they are mad at themselves. That disappointment shatters your world. The fact that you are less than you thought you were, when your self-esteem crumbles, it breaks you. But you have to forgive yourself. Sometimes that means talking to others that you were angry at. You might see the folly of your feelings.
So what's my action step?
Well, I need to stop blaming my feelings on a sweet, innocent person who has no idea that I am projecting my feelings onto them. See, I assume they would feel and react as I would if our roles were reversed. I admit that I would act terribly and feel some negative things. But without asking or talking to them, I'm left with speculation and assumption. That's foolish. People are all different. I might find it easier to forgive myself if I am absolved from my thoughts that this other person would react negatively to me.
Your action step is to Extend Forgiveness, not when you feel like it, or when you feel like they deserve it, or even wait until they ask for it. Extend it now!