Continued from: The Traveler’s Gift- Decision Five

The Compassionate Decision

I Will Greet This Day With a Forgiving Spirit.

For too its long, every ounce of forgiveness I owned was locked away, hidden from view, waiting for me to bestow its precious presence upon some worthy person. Alas, I found most people to be singularly unworthy of my valuable forgiveness and, since they never asked for any, I kept it all for myself. Now, the forgiveness that I hoarded has spouted inside my heart like a crippled seed yielding bitter fruit. Decision Six

[**Wait… I am warming up. 😀 **]

No more! At this moment, my life has taken on new hope and assurance. Of all the world’s population, I am one of the few possessors of the secret to dissipating anger and resentment. I now understand that forgiveness only has value when it is given away. By the simple act of granting forgiveness, I release the demons of the past about which I can do nothing and create in myself a new heart, a new beginning.

[A few years ago I was practicing my own anger management strategies and was studying the reasons for my anger. I found that I got angriest when someone spoke a truth that made me look stupid, naive or disempowered. The first thing I decided was to feel free to reject a opinion (of what was stupid or naive) which I felt was unjustified. Maybe the person assessing me was  clueless about the pressures which acted upon me and prompted me to take the decision I took. Maybe they would have taken a different decision because their priorities or motivations were different. The second thing I decided- if I felt the other person was correct in their assessment- never to get angry with someone for speaking the truth. If the truth hurt me, instead of being resentful towards the person, a better idea was to make sure that I would change myself so that I would not make the same mistake again- or be in a position to be criticized for the same thing again.

Either way, there was nothing to forgive, because there was no hurt. This made me understand something First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said: No one can make you feel small (or angry) without your permission.

I decided to reject an unfair assessment, or to take it to heart (without resentment) as a lesson and bring about a change in myself; and thus to withdraw my permission from others to hurt me.

**Think of the wear and tear it saves. Get hurt- forgive- get hurt- forgive. With two related changes in my paradigm, I got out of that cycle. Yes, now that you ask, I do have a halo round my head. No, I can’t give you mine, go get your own. 😛 **]

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive even those who do not ask for forgiveness. Many are the times when I have seethed in anger at a word or deed thrown into my life by an unthinking or uncaring person. Valuable hours have been wasted imagining revenge or confrontation. Now I see the truth revealed about this psychological rock inside my shoe. The rage I nurture is often one-sided, for my offender seldom gives thought to his offense!

I will now and forevermore silently offer my forgiveness even to those who do not see that they need it. By the act of forgiving, I am no longer consumed by unproductive thoughts. My bitterness is given up. I am contented in my soul and effective again with my fellow man.

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive those who criticize me unjustly.

[All to often we are hurt by someone who genuinely has no idea that they’ve hurt us. Suppose I have a raw wound on the sole of my foot and it is hurting. I am traveling in a crowded bus and someone steps on my foot inadvertently. Surely I would be in immense pain… but the person who hurt me did not do it with malicious intent. He was clueless I had a wound there. It would be a good idea to tell the person who stepped on my foot (without anger) that I had a wound and will he please be careful not to step on my foot again..? This could be true of emotional wounds too.

Bottom line for me is, I would rather not be hurt than to hurt and forgive. Even with the best intention to forgive, sometimes a trace of resentment remains. And things that remain residual, always rot and fester with time.

Don’t they say prevention is better than cure..? That’s one more reason I’d not be in the hurt-forgive loop. There is a simple device I use- you are welcome to use it too if you like.

There are exactly 6 people in the world who are close enough to me to hurt. Three of them are my kids… and the other three are friends who have stood the test of time- and the rough passage of life. None of the six would hurt me deliberately- or wantonly. Someday if they DO hurt me, I would look at it as an issue important enough for me to pay attention- trusting in their benevolence implicitly. And I am close enough to them to tell them that they’ve hurt me and they’d bloody well make sure they don’t do it again or else….! I wouldn’t really call that forgiveness, but I suppose we could call it that. In which case, these are the only six people whom I can forgive. As for the big wide world beyond… I can take their criticism with equanimity knowing they are not really a position to evaluate my actions and choices- or to sit in judgment upon me. That finishes the issue for me.

**Didn’t I tell you just three seconds ago that I have a halo…? Jeezz…!! And stop eyeing mine will you…? 😐 **]

Knowing that slavery, in any form, is wrong, I also know that the person who lives a life according to the opinion of others is a slave. I am not a slave. I have chosen my own counsel. I know the difference between right and wrong. I know what is best for the future of my family, and neither misguided opinion nor unjust criticism will alter my course.

[One thing which I find amusing (now) is the way we disregard our own assessments of our actions and choices and give (too much) credence to the assessments of others. It is almost as if everyone and their wife and uncle and dog (not necessarily in that order) have a right to sit in judgment upon us- though they may not know anything of the pressures under which we live. The only person not qualified to hold an opinion is we. I no longer permit myself to think that way. If I am able to make rational value judgments about people and events not directly connected with me, then I can trust myself to be objective enough to evaluate my own actions and choices with no unfair biases. And that, is what I do- consistently and fairly. To my surprise, I find that I am harsher on myself than on others. I might find excuses for another person to have done what they did, I am not so free handed with excuses for myself. That made me trust myself more- not that it is the right things to do. Oh no…!

**You don’t listen do you…? I can’t give my halo to you honey… mine is driven into my skull with spikes. To give you the halo, I’d have to cut my head off and give THAT to you as well. And you DON’T want my head. Trust me… you do NOT. Bad idea…. really bad…! 🙁 **]

Those who are critical of my goals and dreams simply do not understand the higher purpose to which I have been called. Therefore, their scorn does not affect my attitude or action. I forgive their lack of vision and forge ahead. I now know that criticism is part of the price paid for leaping past mediocrity.

[I now know that criticism is part of the price paid for leaping past mediocrity. That made me grin from ear to ear. No, not now. One day… long back. This guy was really mad with me because I was asking him for data so that I could to test my software. He didn’t want to give the data, because then I would catch the places where he had changed the original figures and pocketed the difference. (Turned out to be a 4 lac difference in an audited balance sheet… such fun it was when the sh*t hit the fan… he he…) I asked my client to instruct this guy (head accountant) to give me the data. Of course he was mad. He began shouting and abusing me in front of the entire staff. Those days I hadn’t acquired the halo and had a temper like a perpetually lighted tinder. I don’t know what happened to me that day. (Preparing for sainthood to come I guess). When he began shouting and abusing, I suddenly realized how comic he looked with his bald head glistening with honest sweat, arms flying in a towering passion and face screwed up like a wizened monkey. I grinned at him with benevolence. (When he was hoping to provoke me into a similar passion and let loose few choice words of my own). As long as I live I will not forget the disbelief in his face. He simply went berserk.

The rest, as they say, is history.

**Now you know why I can’t give you my halo…? You gotta earn it with blood and tears…! :D**]

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself. For many years, my greatest enemy has been myself. Every mistake, every miscalculation, every stumble I made has been replayed over and over in my mind. Every broken promise, every day wasted, every goal not reached has compounded the disgust I feel for the lack of achievement in my life. My dismay has developed a paralyzing grip. When I disappoint myself, I respond with inaction and become more disappointed.

I realize today that it is impossible to fight an enemy living in my head. By forgiving myself, I erase the doubts, fears, and frustration that have kept my past in the present. From this day forward, my history will cease to control my destiny. I have forgiven myself. My life has just begun.

[God knows I have made mistakes in my life, plenty of them. Being the kind of perfectionist I am, the most difficult thing was for me to learn to forgive myself. As I said above, I never let myself hide behind excuses (even justifiable ones). I was not objective when it came to myself- I was bigoted and biased and very critical. Now when I make a mistake, I try to project the mistake on someone else. I ask myself if the mistake was such an unforgivable sin if someone else committed it. I haven’t found myself saying yes to that question, yet. In a strange way, this exercise helped me get a different (and a more generous and fair) perspective on my own actions. Why should I be ready to forgive someone else for a mistake and expect myself to commit hara-kiri if I made it myself…? Hardly fair, was it…?

**Praised be the Lord..! You’ve got the point about the halo…! Fabulous…!! 😀 **]

I will forgive even those who do not ask for forgiveness. I will forgive those who criticize me unjustly. I will forgive myself.

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.

 The Traveler’s Gift- Decision Six