That blog spoke about the need to let go of anger and bitterness because nursing old hurts and grievances reverberates negatively within us and ultimately hurts us far more than the original hurt perpetrated against us.
This week I want to talk about forgiveness again but this time a different aspect – forgiving yourself.
We all have instances in our lives where we wish we had said or done something at a particular time but, for whatever reason, we did not. The guilt associated with missed opportunities particularly involving loved ones who are no longer here can be sharp. We know if they were here they would tell us not to worry about it and yet we still beat ourselves up.
I am not a person who generally holds grudges or nurses bad feelings. I am quick to forgive and yet I do not tend to offer myself the same compassion for my own misdemeanours and transgressions.
This is because I hold myself to impossibly high standards. I always expect to excel and should I fall short, I berate myself about it:- I’m not good enough, I didn’t work hard enough etc.,
The trouble is I always reach for the stars and because I am only human, I am consequently setting myself up to fail more often than not. Why is it I always think I can cram so many things into a limited number of hours and wind up feeling tired and dispirited when I haven’t ticked everything off my stuff to do list for instance? Sound familiar?
So I have decided to make a concerted effort not to be so hard on myself in the future, to be a little bit more compassionate and kind to myself as well as to others. We all fail and make mistakes. It’s how we learn to become better people.
Forgiving myself for such mistakes is a small step but an important one.
It’s a life changing sum of money but there have been plenty of instances of lottery winners who thought their dreams had come true only to see that dream turn into a nightmare because money isn’t everything and a large sum of money can bring with it a complex set of problems alongside the flying champagne corks and I’m not talking about whether you should buy a yacht or a sports car or both.
Squabbles amongst families and rising tensions between husbands and wives are the stories that hit the headlines months and years after the champagne has gone flat. It isn’t the money itself that tears people apart rather it has a way of exacerbating the fault lines that already existed in a relationship before the potent mix of lots of money got added to the pot.
It’s good to aim high. It’s lovely to have dreams. Just make sure your foundations are solid before you start reaching for the stars or have them handed to you on a plate.
Be true to yourself.
Tell the people you care about that you love them.
Show that love in what you do not just in what you say.
Take pleasure from the simple things in life – a leaf caught on the breeze, a beautiful sunset, a roaring fire.
Cherish happy times.
Look for the good in people.
Give second chances to yourself and to others.
Smile even if your heart is breaking
Practice random acts of kindness.
Remember that somewhere inside all of us there is a clock ticking so don’t waste precious moments on those who don’t deserve your time.
Never be afraid to live, laugh or love.
Don’t strive to be happy because happiness is ephemeral. Strive for contentment instead.
A few years ago my Dad put up a bird house in the garden. It had a little front step and a beautiful roof made of twigs and I couldn’t imagine how any prospective little bird parents could not fall in love with it and move in.
Sadly, the years went by and although the little bird house got several visits from curious birds sticking their heads inside they ultimately decided it wasn’t for them. Perhaps it was a problem with the neighbourhood – too close to the trellis and thus vulnerable from attack from cats or too close to the trees. Whatever the reason, the little bird house remained vacant and available to let.
Over the years it started to look a little weathered and worn but that just added to its character. It still had a good roof and was water tight. I still lived in hope that one spring the right little bird family would move in.
That was until this spring. I have mentioned the doves that frequent my garden in previous posts (you may recall their forlorn attempt to nest in the satellite dish). Well, they returned and took an interest in my little bird house. This despite the fact they could barely get their heads inside the entrance.
I watched over a fateful weekend as they carefully began to deconstruct my little bird house. The roof took the worst as they dismantled it twig by twig and carefully carried these up into one of my trees to build their nest. I could only watch from the house and smile as they worked so hard to tear apart one house to build another better suited to their needs (perhaps they had been watching one of those home makeover shows on tv).
Once they were done my pretty little bird house was not so pretty anymore. It is what they would call in the property trade a doer-uper. I did get a little blue tit come to investigate. He seemed to find great delight in hopping through the front door and exiting via the roof. Needless to say, he did not move his family in.
Ultimately, the little bird house served its purpose just not in the way I intended.
The moral of this tale? As much as we want something to be a certain way in life, it is not always within our control to make it happen. Sometimes we just have to accept things are the way they are.
Anyone who has been through the mill of submission to agents or trad publishers will know the routine of a rush of activity in the lead up to submission, followed by a strange mix of excitement and terror when you actually post your manuscript or press send.
Then comes a few days of fevered anticipation as you check the post/inbox on an hourly basis. The logic being that your manuscript when it arrives at its destination is going to scream such quality that someone important will drop everything else they were doing to read it immediately and respond with similar alacrity.
When those first few days pass, the enthusiasm levels take a dip. You remind yourself that the people you are submitting to are busy people. You’ll give them a week. But a week turns into two. Then a month. Make that six weeks?! Slowly the horror begins to dawn on you that you may never hear back.
Was the package lost in the post? Was the email lost in the hell of internet limbo or worse languishing unloved in a spam folder somewhere? You resolve to find out whether it safely arrived but that usually opens up a whole new round of playing the waiting game.
Sometimes you’ve waited so long that by the time a form letter/email arrives thanking you but telling you that your manuscript was not for them you are almost relieved. At least you can stop wondering now.
Waiting is intrinsic to writing so you’d better get used to it and find ways to cope with it because even though the advent of email may have speeded up some things the wheels of publishing still turn pretty slowly.
They say that patience is a virtue but it’s a hard one to cultivate. Waiting for something can be incredibly frustrating particularly if you are not sure of the outcome once you get there. Counting down to a big event such as departing on your summer break or the lead up to Christmas can bring its own stresses and strains. As we rush about to get all our plans in place, you wonder if the extra work these events entail makes them worthwhile. Hopefully the break is a positive one and you return ready to build up to the next big event.
Waiting for something you care about or that is important is tough. I fought cancer nine years ago. Form me the hardest part was waiting for test results and as anyone who has had cancer knows you undergo a whole lot of tests at the point of diagnosis, during the treatment and when you are in remission. I well remember having to psych myself up to attend for each test just wishing they could magically produce the result on the same day so the stress of waiting didn’t gnaw away at me in the meantime. When I was in remission I had to go for a blood test on a Friday and didn’t get the results until the Monday. Those were the weekends from hell while I tried to keep myself occupied with inconsequential things. For me it made a bad situation so much worse.
As you might have gathered, I’m not a patient person but I am trying to bring my impatience down a few notches. I’m trying to remind myself that the world won’t end tomorrow if my package doesn’t get delivered on time or that meeting I had scheduled is junked or the release date for my favourite TV series gets put back. Getting impatient about things you cannot change is ultimately futile. It will only serve to raise your blood pressure and being the health conscious person I now am that is never a good thing.
I am proud to report that I have recently been displaying a huge amount of patience as I waited for the blackberries in my garden to ripen. I have watched them carefully for many weeks from their humble beginnings to the green berries and finally as they started to darken. The hot weather we have recently enjoyed has brought them on a treat and this weekend the moment had come to pick the first modest crop. They were delicious and there are more to come. If I had picked them too early they would not have been anywhere near as tasty. There’s a lesson in life in there somewhere. I just need the patience to heed it.