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.
We have all been in situations were people have treated us harshly. Sometimes we deserved it. Sometimes we didn’t. It is only natural that we are going to react defensively when we perceive someone is attacking us, even if it is only with words. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up and anger kicks in.
But this is not a state of mind or body we should hang on to. Holding on to old hurts, nursing those grievances for weeks, months or even years, is always going to hurt us more than it will ever hurt the perpetrators of the original hurt.
We cannot all exhibit saintliness and constantly react well to bad situations but the art of moving on quickly is the key to our own health and happiness. Nurturing anger, jealousy or hate will only reverberate negatively within us. Make peace with your anger and let it go. Try to understand that the person or people who have done you wrong were probably hurting themselves, lashing out at whatever was in front of them, weighed down by their own troubles. Few people in the world are truly evil. Most have simply had the odds stacked against them since birth and are overburdened by the memories of traumas we could not imagine unless we walked in their shoes.
Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
I have a friend who came to me recently wanting my advice. We met up for a drink and she talked me through the situation she found herself in. I nodded as she spoke, asked questions were appropriate but mostly I just listened.
She gave me a potted history of what had led up to the latest drama, where she was at now, what the problem was and what the possible solutions were. I interjected very little letting her give full vent to her feelings. I got the distinct impression she had been putting a lid on her feelings until she met me and so, like a pressure cooker that has had the lid firmly clamped on for a little too long, once the pressure was released and she was in a safe environment where she could talk without being judged, she rattled away, letting off all that pent up emotion.
I have had a lot of experience of the ups and downs of life but I am no wiser or better informed than the next person. I am as capable of stuffing up as everyone else. I could offer no dazzling insight or straightforward solution just a dollop of common sense. But as it happened, I didn’t even need to give that because my friend, as her discourse was winding down, reached that conclusion herself without any prompting from me.
Looking far happier by the end of our time together than she had at the beginning, my friend gave me a hug. “I knew you’d be the right person to talk to about this. You always give good advice.” I felt flattered by her comments but thoroughly undeserving of them. I had hardly offered any advice during our time together, good or otherwise. I’d barely got a word in.
Are you one of those people who others turn to in times of crisis? Are you the shoulder to lean on? The one who sorts things out and makes people feel better? I am one of those people and I like the fact that others feel they can rely on me and that they see me as someone who they can trust to help them. But what happen when it’s you who needs the help?
It is one thing to give help to others, it’s quite another to accept help in return or even to ask for it. To those of us who think of ourselves as strong it’s hard to let go and admit there are some things you simply cannot handle on your own.
Strong people often take pride in their strength and their ability to cope. They feel sorry for those weaker than themselves who cannot ride the tides of life quite so well. But even for the strongest amongst us, life can sometimes drag you down to your knees and when it does it takes a different kind of strength to reach out and grab the hands being offered to you.
So next time life batters you around the head don’t let pride stop you asking for help, give yourself permission to be weak, just for a little while because the real strength is in knowing you don’t have to be strong all the time.
When people think of indie publishing they think of one person multi tasking, swapping between being a writer, being an editor, being a formatter and being a promoter. There are some writers (and I take my hat off to you) who do all those things themselves. Most of us have a team we rely on to help us do the jobs we cannot do ourselves or don’t have time to do.
But beyond that group of people are a wider support network which form such an important part of an indie writer’s support system and most of them the writer has probably never met. I’m talking about the online support groups. Most writers belong to a few of these. They can be enriching, entertaining, informative, sometimes frustrating but always worthwhile – at least when you find the ones that suit you best.
And that’s the beauty of support groups – there are a lot of them out there and every writer will be sure to find at least one group they feel comfortable with. As with other aspects of life, one man’s meat is another man’s poison and just because your writing friend raved about a particular group doesn’t mean you will find them worth committing time to. You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince (sorry – blame the romance writer in me for that analogy!).
One group I was fortunate enough to discover very early in my indie writing career was the Alliance of Independent Authors. If you are not familiar with Alli and are an independent author I strongly suggest you check out the Alli site. If you need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new in independent publishing, best practices and so much more check out the link to their website below:-
If you have a favourite writing based group you belong to, why not tell us all about it either in the comments section below or perhaps in your own blog post and send me a link. Why not share the love?
It is his landscapes I particularly enjoy. The country scenes have a rustic charm about them which brings the subject to life. Whilst not over-romanticising the scenes, he nevertheless captures their bucolic attraction. I am particularly drawn to his landscape work because it covers a part of the countryside that I am familiar with and so there is an added bonus to recognising a little of what you see, some of it little changed from his time.
It got me thinking about how we are influenced by the surroundings in which we grow up beyond the family home itself. For those of us lucky enough to have had a happy childhood the influence of those formative years will stay with us forever. A fond remembrance of the places of our childhood indicates a time we are glad to revisit in our minds without hesitation. But can the memory really be trusted?
All those warm and happy feelings have inevitably added extra layers to our memories, colouring them more beautifully because they have such a cherished place in our hearts. Our fondness has taken the original memory and made it larger, brighter, better. Is it possible that reality could ever have lived up to that?
It is because of the disconnect between our memories and the reality that we should always pay heed to the sage advice to “never go back”. Why suffer disappointment and the trampling of reality over your memories when they can continue to exist without disturbance in the realms of your mind?
The struggles of everyday life can make looking back with nostalgia to earlier times attractive. But we should not forget what may have been halcyon days for us were someone else’s tough time. When I happened to remark on my fondness for my home village to a friend I grew up with they looked astonished and told me how they couldn’t wait to leave and never looked back. It made me realise that whilst I found the familiarity of a small community comforting, they found it suffocating.
Ultimately we all experience life through the prism of our own memories and experiences. It is why we should never rush to judgment on someone else. We are looking at their actions through our own prism not theirs. Their experiences might have been very different to ours, their perception at odds with our own. As the saying goes ‘Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.’ Sound advice indeed.