I do consider this probably the most important mindset shift to be accomplished for 2021 although, it has never been unimportant. After the challenges of 2020 and what has seemed almost like an alternate reality we have been facing, most of us are very determined to make a fresh start in any way that we can.
Of course, many of the challenges of 2020 have not disappeared and it can be difficult not to be painfully aware of those continuing changes to our old normal. Every now and then I catch myself looking around at people walking down the street, masked up and going through their normal routines and I have a brief moment of shock and disbelief. It’s as if I had briefly forgotten that this is how it is now and the reality comes flooding in unexpectedly. At the other extreme, I’ve occasionally been aware that I’m watching a movie or television show and people are hugging each other or not maintaining any sort of social distance and I think, “Oh no, be careful,” at least for a split second. Our awareness of the changes to our lives brought by the pandemic, which will not be over anytime soon, can swing from briefly forgetting that new reality to thinking that this is the new normal and everything has changed and may not return to the old normal for a very long time.
Of course, my tendency to be as optimistic as the law will allow, as often as possible, leads me to expect that things will get better, much better, and that we will be changed in a good way from the trials of this last year or more. I’ve rarely seen a challenging experience that did not ultimately bring some new knowledge or strength or resilience that would not have occurred in the absence of the challenge. So, in my better moments, I try to think of any good things that can come from the difficult losses many of us have experienced that feel perhaps worse than anything we have faced in our lifetimes.
So, what is this most important thing we can do to make 2021 different and better? What can we do to make the changes in our lives that we would really like to make in the midst of what feels like bizarro-world?
Our mission, and something that is always our mission, is to move our gaze from looking backward at all of our losses, our missteps, or difficulties, that is, to let go of the past. I’m not suggesting it’s simple, only essential. Creating change that can lead to much more happiness requires a forward focus. We can’t be focusing forward and remaining mired in the past at the same time.
We’ve all experienced loss and have some things we regret or that cause us sadness when we focus on them. The key is to think, in each case, what did I gain from that? What did I learn? How am I a better person for having experienced that challenge? That approach is vastly different than obsessing about the past and the problem as if it has a hold over us that will never allow us to be the person we want to be. It can be as if we are chained to that old reality when we are not. That chain only exists in our own outlook, the way we choose to view the challenge, and whether we decide that we are strong enough to break any chain.
There has been so much anger and rancor and blame and resentment over the last year for most people that it can feel like we are chained to that view of reality. But we’re not. That’s just not true and the more quickly we can challenge that assumption, the more quickly we can begin to make changes in our lives that will move us to a whole new level, where more happiness and joy become our dominant emotions.
It’s been my experience in dealing with lots and lots of clients and friends and family and, of course, myself, that there is often an act of forgiveness that needs to take place to break that chain. As long as we hold that resentment we have given away our power. It is as if we are saying that a person or a situation is bigger and more powerful than us. I’m not sure about you, but I am so unwilling to give up on myself in that way or to not use my full power in this world.
So what can we do with this need to exercise “forgiveness” when it seems so loaded and almost impossible to pull off? I was thinking about why forgiveness often seems so difficult or impossible when someone has done something that feels so, well, unforgivable. Sometimes that word “forgiveness” just seems like an insurmountable obstacle.
I have what I personally think is a stellar idea for looking at forgiveness in a new way, which can make it MUCH EASIER to actually forgive others as well as ourselves and to move forward.
How about if we looked at that word in a whole new way? If we look at the words that make up the word “forgive” or “forgiveness” we can find “give” and “forward.” I realize I added the “ward” to “for” but bear with me for a minute ( the quick kind of minute, a NY minute).
When we decide to exercise forgiveness toward ourselves for what we perceive as our role in allowing things to happen or others who caused us harm, we are GIVING OURSELVES PERMISSION TO MOVE FORWARD. We are in no way saying that we are burying the emotions or condoning someone’s terrible behavior or suggesting that we would allow that to happen again. We are just deciding that we don’t want to carry the weight of that in our lives any longer.
And, then we are in a position to actually move forward. We don’t need to keep thinking about it any longer. It’s done. We’re done. We know we did the best we could at the time with what we knew. We even know that the person who may still seem like a jerk was doing the best they could with what they knew at the time. It was the best they had. Of course, we can go around and around thinking they should have known better or we should have known better, but we didn’t and they didn’t. Otherwise, we all would have done better.
So, we can decide to draw a line in the sand and say I forgive that whole situation, that person, my role in it, all of it because I am focusing forward, not looking backward, which would only keep me chained to the past and what I think went wrong.
Forgiving is the essential act that allows us to reclaim our power and be free. Without the weight of that unpleasant past constantly resurfacing in our thoughts, we are free to be who we choose to be now. That other stuff is irrelevant to where we are going.
If you find yourself dwelling on past mistakes or people who made your life difficult, remind yourself that you are not in any way saying that what happened was okay, or that you didn’t deserve better. You are forgiving all of it, the person, the circumstances, yourself because you are GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO MOVE FORWARD. Period. Done. You no longer have to keep dwelling on that stuff that you feel is keeping you stuck.
The idea of forgiveness, defined in this way, no longer feels like such a big deal. We are just giving ourselves the freedom we deserve. And, life has a great chance of becoming better and better with that focus on our future.
Let me know if this feels like something that makes you feel lighter and gives you a sense of relief. Susan@howtoallow.net I feel lighter and freer and I’m betting that you will feel that too.
In my new book, You’re Not Stuck—Let the Law of Attraction Allow Life to Happen for You and Start Living an Awesome Life, I spend quite a bit of time on the subject of moving forward and letting go of the past. It feels nothing like being stuck. You can find it at https://amazon.com/dp/B08LQTLJBC
If you’d like some support with giving yourself permission to move forward you can learn about coaching and schedule a free exploratory session at howtoallow.net