Leggo my Ego

This morning, I was reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.  The part that stood out to me was about nonreaction to the ego.  The way that he describes it really helped me to clearly see how often my ego gets in the way.  I am not my ego, but I tend to live through it at times.  The words “Leggo my Ego” keeps popping into my mind. 

This process of change is lifelong.  However, I believe that gaining awareness is the seed of change.  In order to put that change into action, I need to be ready to change, willing and patient with myself.  I also need to be able to see when my ego gets in the way or takes over and not react to it. 

Below is the powerful portion of the the book that I read earlier:

“Nonreaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego.  But you can only be in a state of nonreaction if you can recognize someone’s behavior as coming from the ego, as being an expression of the collective human dysfunction.  When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were.  By not reacting to the ego, you will often be able to bring out the sanity in others, which is the unconditioned consciousness as opposed to the conditioned.  At times you may have to take practical steps to protect yourself from deeply unconscious people.  This you can do without making them into enemies.  Your greatest protection, however, is being conscious.  Somebody becomes an enemy if you personalize the unconsciousness that is the ego.  Nonreaction is forgiveness. To forgive is to overlook, or rather to look through.  You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his or her essence.” ~Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth

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Forgiveness

This article was written by Life Coach Jennifer Bridge

forgiveness

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis Smedes

At some point in our lives, we all get hurt emotionally.  Until we forgive and get to the other side, it is nearly impossible to see the hold that it had on us.  Whether it is a friend acting disloyal, a significant other cheating, an employer laying us off or some other painful situation, life happens.  When we hold on to these experiences and become resentful, angry and re-feel the hurt and pain, we suffer even more.  It is easy to get caught in this vicious cycle of negativity.  For some people, it is easy to forgive.  For others, it takes a lot of work and time.  And some people never allow themselves to get to a place where they are able to forgive.

I think of forgiveness as an internal action that allows us to release negative emotions and reconnect to our spirit. Holding on to those painful parts of our past keep us from moving forward.  We get stuck in those overwhelming feelings.  We shut down and put up an emotional wall for protection.  But in reality, we shut out love and new opportunities to grow.

It is important to clarify what forgiveness is not as well.  Forgiveness is not forgetting.  As time goes by, it gets easier to ignore what happened and not think about it, but it is still there.  Forgiveness is the only way to free yourself and move on.

Forgiveness is not making excuses for what happened.  “They didn’t really mean to do it” or “They didn’t know better” are examples of some excuses you might tell yourself.  This mindset does not allow you to acknowledge the hurt and see it for what it really is and in turn, let it go.

Forgiveness is not justice or revenge.  Paybacks or getting even will not help you heal.  Hurting the person that hurt you might temporarily feel better, but it will ultimately bring you more pain. Forgiveness is a moral response to another person’s injustice.  It’s an inside job.

Forgiveness has the word “give” in it.  We give a gift to ourselves when we forgive others.  We give ourselves the freedom to move on and break the cycle of hurt we have been caught in.  We give ourselves a new perspective on life.  The darkness fades away and the world looks a little brighter through forgiving eyes.

7 Steps to Forgiveness

by Mark Linden O Meara

Much has been written about forgiveness. Everywhere you turn people are saying you have to forgive, yet few people likely understand the process of true forgiving. For true healing, forgiveness is essential. The same holds true for the idea of compassion. Yet I have learned that going from anger straight to compassion does not bring about true forgiveness. It only creates a sense of pseudo forgiveness. Many people try to go from hurt or anger straight to compassion.  It most often fails unless they fully understand the deeper process. In most cases the shortcut backfires or they have only repressed their anger. While you maintain an air of forgiveness, you may find yourself easily triggered when speaking of the original event, or you find yourself reacting emotionally when the issue is raised. I have found that the following steps bring about lasting forgiveness when implemented and practiced on a daily basis. I’ve had many things to forgive, so I’ve had practice. I’ve noticed that it is easy to fall back into a trap of non-forgiveness and resentment unless you make it a daily habit to forgive. Why forgive? You forgive so that you can stop harming yourself through resentment and begin to move into a state of happiness and gratitude.

Stage 1- Admit You Are Angry!  Many of us will echo the thoughts “What? I’m not supposed to get angry! I’ve done all this healing work!” I’ve learned that it is harmful to get angry but it is more harmful to be angry and not admit it! The way to check if you are angry is to observe your inner dialogue about how you are relating to yourself and others. Are you finding yourself being negative, critical or frustrated? Do you find yourself being impatient with people and critical of how things are done? Are you constantly blaming others for your troubles, wishing that others would change? If so, then it is likely you are angry. Try to recognize what you are angry about. It may not be the little things, but something that happened months ago. Look back in time to what might have triggered your anger and where your expression has been blocked. Bitterness is anger with no outlet to be heard or feeling that you can not change anything. It is a form of helplessness. Try to discover what you are bitter about. Make a list of resentments. Don’t hold back or edit your thoughts. Being honest with yourself is the first step in healing anger.

Stage 2- Acknowledge the Loss and Consequences  In order to fully forgive, you need to look at the consequences of the event. By consequences, I do not mean just emotional pain. Look at the past and the present, and honestly note any changes. Were you physically injured? Were you emotionally hurt? Did you suffer financial loss? What other types of losses occurred? Was there harm to other relationships? To achieve lasting forgiveness it is important to acknowledge all the losses, otherwise forgiveness will have to be revisited. When listing the losses and consequences, try to look objectively at the incident without investing in the emotions around the losses at this time.

Stage 3 – Submit to a Feeling of Vulnerability The next stage in forgiveness is to open your self up to change and dissonance. You can not spread butter when it is hard and cold. Forgiveness does not come easily when your ideas, thoughts of revenge or justice are hardened. You must retreat and re-examine your approach. Just like a pound of butter, if you want to forgive and heal, you need to let your ideas thaw and be molded into a new perspective, combined with other ideas and views. You need to admit that to harbor anger and resentments violates the laws of kindness and compassion both for yourself and other people. You must realize that in not forgiving, you are now betraying the person at whom you are angry. This is not an easy step. It can be painful to realize that it is you who needs to change, and that it is you who has the poison of anger and resentment. It is easy to build up a wall of justification around your thoughts, actions and feelings regarding the harm done to you. In order to heal and forgive, you need to break through the wall and tear it down completely!  This stage of forgiveness also requires you look at whether there was any responsibility on your part. In some cases there was none, in some cases, you may have taken action which contributed to the decision. In this case, it may be hard for you to admit that you caused part of your own suffering as it is easier to blame others than to take any responsibility. This stage requires an honest, fearless, kind and moral inventory of your own actions and behavior. Sometimes you may not like what you find, but facing your shadow can be one of the most powerful healing experiences. See if you can find some common ground.

Stage 4 – Stop Punishing One of the common behaviors of people is to try to punish those who have harmed us. Most studies have shown that punishment rarely teaches anything other than to resent the person doing the punishing! Some of the ways you may punish are by withholding companionship, giving someone the silent treatment, or even giving compliments but then taking it back with an insult. You may try to go further with legal action, or you may try to damage things that the other person prizes. Another method of punishment is gossiping about the other person. In order to truly forgive, you need to give up the expectation that the other person will be punished. You can ask that the other person make amends for their harm, but if they refuse or are unable to make amends, then releasing them from the idea of punishment frees you from lingering resentment.  There is great wisdom in the following Buddhist teaching – “Should one person ignorantly do wrong, and another ignorantly becomes angry with him, who would be at fault? And who would be without fault?” It is far better to try to forgive, and reintegrate your friends back into community than to ostracize and alienate them through punishment. Try to practice compassion, work at developing a deeper understanding of how and why people behave. It seems that we prefer a simple explanation of things, yet you need to understand that human beings and the relationships between each other are complex. Understanding the ways of the world and the people in the world requires wisdom and self control. Use the opportunity to forgive as a means of growth!

Stage 5 – Identify Some Good in the Other Person This step, finding some good in the other person is probably the most crucial step in bringing about lasting forgiveness. It can also be the hardest depending on the severity of the event you are trying to forgive.  According to Francis Bacon, the key to forgiveness is in “not expecting the other to change, to give love, to be kind and develop the ability to see that in everyone else’s eyes and heart there is some good.” In forgiving, you try not to think of yourself as being good and the other person bad. You can find it easier to forgive if you can understand that the other person has difficulties too, or was harmed in the past. If you do not practice this step, then forgiveness will be futile because it will be done with a sense of contempt for the other person. If you can not find good in the other person, then at least pray for them. A wonderful technique for developing your vision of good in another is to imagine a seed of goodness in their heart, and in prayer imagine that both you and God are watering it to make it grow stronger. Better yet is to image that each person already has this great flower of goodness in them already. Admit that it has been obscured from your view because of your anger, resentment and justifications. Learn to look for the good. At first, like developing any skill, it is challenging. You will become better at it with practice!

Stage 6 – Develop Genuine Neutrality  Hopefully in the process of forgiveness you will come to resolve any negative emotions and thoughts about yourself and the other person or organization. To do so requires that you do not expect or demand any payment or restitution after forgiveness. You must assume that there is no debt owed to you. Mother Theresa once said “it is between God and myself, it was never between me and them anyway.” This must be practiced daily. It is easy to slip into anger and resentment if you do not cultivate a practice of neutrality. Depending on the severity of the event, you may choose to not have any further contact with the person, but if you meet them by chance, you want to have a sense of neutrality and a sense of calmness instead of avoidance.

Stage 7 – Stay in the Present “Bury the hatchet” is a phrase you may have heard many times. There is wisdom to this phrase if you understand its original meaning. The phrase comes from spiritual traditions of North American Indians who would put all weapons out of site while smoking a peace pipe. For your own forgiveness work, you must keep the original wound out of sight, or out of present mind. It is necessary to acknowledge what happened, to not forget it, but also not drag it up again as a fresh wound. Resurrecting the event and bringing it up again with the person who harmed you will cause you to feel the associated feelings again. Balance your memory of the event with your memory of the forgiveness work you have done. Practice loving those you don’t feel warmth towards.  All of your forgiveness work can be undone, and the resentment rekindled if you begin to dwell on the event again. If you begin to rerun your mind’s movie of the harm, then you may find yourself in an angry and hurt state again. It is the nature of your mind to ruminate, and therefore you must develop self-discipline and remind yourself that you have completed forgiveness work around this issue. Thank your mind for the intrusive thought, and send it off into the far reaches of the universe! Refuse to bring the past into the present again, as it will re-trigger you back into hurt and anger. Continually rise above the injury! Practice compassion and unconditional love towards all people!

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Spring Cleaning windowSpring is here! Although it seems more like back and forth between winter and summer in Maryland lately with temps ranging from the 30s to the high 80s.  It’s still April.  To many April is that time of year when we get the urge to do some spring cleaning around the house. You know, open the windows and let in the fresh air. Then put away the winter clothes, boots and coats. After that it usually leads to getting out the cleaning supplies and trash bags, turning up the music and jumping into another round of spring cleaning!   It is also the perfect time to do some spring cleaning in your life. That’s right, in your life.  Many people spend the winter months hibernating behind excuses, losing motivation and filling their lives with piles and boxes of mental, physical and emotional junk to clear out in the spring.  Here are some ways you can spring clean your life.

  • Air out your attitude. If your attitude is closer to “scrooge” from the holidays, then let that negativity blow away with the spring breeze.
  • Lighten up your life with more laughter and joy. When was the last time you let your inner child out to have some fun!
  • Clean out your emotional closet. Holding on to old emotional baggage does not leave room for you to fully enjoy life in the present moment.
  • Rid yourself of resentments. Start out the season with forgiveness and lighten up your spirit.
  • Throw out unhealthy or expired relationships. There may be some friendships or other kinds of relationships that you have outgrown and no longer fit you this season.
  • Open up the windows of your mind to new and refreshing ideas on living healthier, happier and easier.
  • Dust off old dreams to follow and take action towards making them reality.