First, if you’re reading this, you might have the feeling that you want to change some of your parenting practices or, perhaps, you're curious about “mindful parenting” and what it could be. Well, congratulations for taking a moment from your day to click on the link. Erin of it’s OK and I are going to be working together over the next 40 weeks (!) on a journey toward more mindful parenting and would love to have you join us. To learn how we envision The Mindful Parenting Collaboration working, please read the introductory post HERE.
There have been many instances in my life where I've had to forgive. I think that's true for everyone. No one goes through life with no one doing something to them - even if it's a tiny little thing. I've had some pretty big problems with people. Sometimes I've been embarrassed, other times I've been hurt. Sometime during my 20's I realized that forgiving those things is the best way to go. Stewing in anger or trying to figure out how to get back at someone only causes stress and an overall bad temperament. Even if you let the issue drop on the outside, but harbor bad feelings inside, it can eat you alive. Letting go is so freeing!
So, "forgive and forget" became my motto. It worked so very well for quite a while. I could easily forgive - even when someone did something mean and nasty on purpose. I just felt sorry for them. I mean, how terrible must one's life be that they feel they must make someone else miserable? But, I learned that the forget part isn't all that great. I've been burnt by the same person for the same reasons repeatedly. There's a line you just have to draw to protect yourself from further abuse.
This is where I have a problem. I look at forgiveness as completely dropping the whole incident. I can't put a relationship straight unless I can start anew with the person. Constantly being on guard against another wave of trouble hampers that relationship. I'm looking inside and trying to figure out how I can do this. It's not easy and I'd love anyone who has figured it out to PLEASE help me! (I'm not talking about silly little things. I can get over those. It's the big ones that rock my life, and sometimes mu family's, that I'm talking about here.)
Now, let's turn to me. I have worked hard to learn how to forgive myself for the stupid mistakes I've made. I used to just treat myself like crap because I didn't think I was good enough for the blessings I had. Then, I realized that those mistakes were important to create who I am now. First, I have learned from them. I know better to do the same stupid junk again. I think that, if I can say I've learned something, then the mistake was probably worth it. Next, I realized that you can't go back and change things. No matter how much guilt I laid upon myself, I could never, ever change the things that happened. If I can't change it, I have to let it go. Guilt can make one feel the way I did - worthless and undeserving. Finally, there are a couple of things that I won't let me forgive myself for. Yep - I said it. I'm not going to tell you what they are, but they're not pretty. I'm waiting patiently until I can right those wrongs. Until then, I just cannot let these go. I will try to fix them, or at least do my best to do so. But until that time arrives, they'll stay in my heart.
I also want to tell you that I think that showing forgiveness is the best way to teach my children how to do the same. I don't want them growing up and carrying guilt around. We talk about hypothetical situations in which their decisions could hurt or help someone. We talk about things that have happened to them that are causing sadness and anger, then we figure out how to forgive. When I make a mistake, I admit it to them. I'm not to pompous and stubborn to make them believe that I'm perfect. Showing them that I'm sorry (not just saying it!) helps them let go and forgive me for screwing up.
Lastly, I need to share the whole "I'm Sorry" thing. I don't make my kids apologize for things. They do it on their own. In this house, "I'm sorry" means "I screwed up and learned from it. I will try my best not to make the same mistake again." I think that children who are forced to apologize without really knowing why and then let off the hook learn that those two magic words erase all wrongdoing. The problem is they don't learn the part about not doing it again. I was raised this way and so was my husband. I learned the difference. He is still learning. When he says "I'm sorry" to me, it is just words. I tell him so. I remind him that he has to show me he's sorry because the words aren't an eraser.
If you've written a post on forgiveness, please add it here. It does not have to be a new post. This is a collaboration and all aspects are welcome. We can learn from each other and help one another on this journey toward more mindful parenting!If you'd like to add this linky to your own post(s), click HERE to grab the HTML.