Acceptence, letting go and forgiveness

I have found through the years that life is what we tell ourselves about what ever is happening to us. Whether that is good, bad, right or wrong.   That doesn’t mean that we have to be happy about someone hurting us, betraying us or blaming us for something we did not do.  It means that we will initially feel hurt, angry or betrayed,  What we do with those initial feelings is a decision we make,  to either hang on to them or let go.  Letting go involves an acceptance of the situation and the ability to forgive.  For whatever the reason, a lot of people in this world view acceptence and forgiveness as a form of weakness.  i know for a fact that  it is not  It has taken great courage at times in my life to tell myself,”let it go”,  “It’s not worth it”, “Why are you hanging on to this?”  So, today i would like to talk about why I feel acceptence and forgiveness are courageous acts.

When I have done therapy with people, a lot of them are very angry about things that have happened in their past.  They hang on to the angry because it makes them feel strong in a situation that they had not control over and felt weak while it was happening.  No one will every make them feel that way again and so they hang on to the only thing they feel helps them to feel strong.  There is nothing wrong with anger by itself.  It is an emotion like any other emotion, designed to let us know something just happened and we should pay attention.  Anger means someone just stepped on our toes.  Sitting with the anger long enough to alow us to understand what just happened and why we became angry about this situation is a good thing.  Staying in the anger for weeks, months or years is not a good thing.  The anger begins to change who we are as a person, usually not in a good way.  Anger can physically change us as well, giving us ulcers, high blood pressure and an assortment of other ailments.  Psychologically it can make us bitter angry people.  If I have been your therapist, you have heard this analogy before, it goes like this:  Anger and unforgiveness is like carrying around a sack of rocks on your back.  Every time someone does something to us we put another rock in our sack and throw it over our back and carry it around.  Each time somethng happens that hurts or angers us we place another rock in the sack.  Pretty soon we are bent over trying to carry around the sack of rocks.  We are now angry and bitter about not only those things in the sack but having to carry around this heavy sack.  The people and situations that are in the sack are done and gone.  The people involved may  not remember what happened and may not even care about them if we bring them up.  We are the only ones that remember and are carrying this burden.  We are actively making a decision to do so every single day.  We can actively make to decision to put the sack down.  We can also make the decision to accept those situations for what they were and learn from them.  We can also forgive those people involved in those situation, whether they own what they’ve down or not. It takes courage to put down the sack.  it has given us a sense of security for a long time.  It has kept people away from us so we will never be hurt again.  But we are, over and over again.  The same situations will come up until we deal with the root cause of it.  We don’t see the signs of the same thing happening because we have not really looked at it, sat with it.  We have thrown it in the sack and carried it around, but not looked at it and why it is repeating in our lives.   We have not looked at our part in the situation, we have played the victim.  Putting down the sack frees us.  It does not make the other person less responsibile for their part in the situation, it frees us from carrying around the burden any longer.  Accepting something for what it is, does not mean will have to accept unacceptable behavior.  It means we accept that others do not think the way we do, act the way we do or respond the way we do.  Our decision then, is not to hold on the anger and hurt we feel but to decide what we will do about the present situation and then do it without acting out of the anger we feel.  When I am angry, i will remove myself from the situation, work off the anger I’m feeling in a physical way, going for a walk, run, etc.  When I have cleared the anger, i can then see the situation clearly and know what to do about it.  So, acceptance is not about swollowing things whole and shutting our mouth.  it is about accepting the fact that we have no control over other people and cannot change what they think, say or do.  It is about making an unemotional decision about what we will do about a given situation and then doing it.

Forgiveness is much the same thing.  Forgiveness does not allow the other person(s) off the hook for what they have done.  it allows us to put down the sack and move on with our lives. Forgiveness is about us and our freedom to not allow whatever was done to stop us from whatever life has to offer us.

Letting go of those things that have hurt us allows us to learn from the situation and move on with our lives.  We tend to see things as winning and loosing in this world of ours.  So if you follow that premise and belief, let’s make an analogy.  Hanging on to the hurt will make you bitter and angry, so when the person that hurt you sees you in 10 years, will they be able to say, “See i told you they were angry, look at how bitter they are!”.  Or will they say ” Wow, look at how they’ve succeeded and how happy they are!”.  Someone once said that the best way to defeat your enemy is to succeed.  To show them they did not stop you from living your life in a happy manner.

Pain is part of life.  It is not something we should be running from, but rather learning from, making decisions about it in actively conscious manner.  If we are not learning from it, then it is wasted and it will repeat itself over and over again in our lives.  These video’s will help you relax and give away what you have no control over.  Link to the video’s.   Enjoy!

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dtoomey2015

I became a therapist in an attempt to understand my own childhood and what happened there and how it made me who I am, exhibiting the behaviors that were not always positive, very often self-destructive. I used Art Therapy to help me understand things in my past that were stopping me from making better decisions in my present day. I used Behavioral Science to help me understand underlying causal factors, roots to the present day behaviors that I was seeing in myself. Both help me to change those behaviors/thoughts that were causing me to make self-destructive decisions that were causing pain in life. I have been a therapist since 1985 and have an undergraduate degree Art and behavioral science (double major) from the University of Maine. My graduate work was done at Marywood university and I have a degree in Art Therapy. I have certificates in Forensic Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy. I have 22 out of 30 credits toward a degree in Trauma Therapy from Drexel University. I started out as a Community Support Worker, Program Manager/Clinical Supervisor, Family therapist and Outpatient therapist.

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