Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where, in spite of your best efforts, things from your past seem to pop up at the most inopportune moments? Of course, I’m speaking of things that weren’t some of your finest moments in life. Usually, it involves another person and sometimes many people. Think of something from your past, someone you might have hurt, even indirectly, either emotionally, personally, or financially, and what you did or said can’t be changed. What did you do when you found out the other person was hurt? Did you “own up” and apologize? If the answer is yes, good for you! And it’s you this post is directed towards.
I’ve discovered in my own journey that the people I love the most are often the people I’ve hurt the most. In turn, these same people have the hardest time “letting go”, forgiving, and moving on with their lives in a positive fashion, leaving the sad baggage behind, taking only the good memories with them in the present. One of my favorite sayings is this: “I can’t change what happened five years ago, let alone five days, five hours, or five minutes ago!” Here’s another favorite: “The past is gone, the future isn’t here yet. So, don’t piss in the present. It’s all you got anyway!”
“Being in the moment”, and living in the present is tough. I know you’ve heard of the phrase “forgive and forget.” Perhaps you even believe in that philosophy and practice it daily. Personally I do as well but not the second part of that phrase, though I might have at one time. The reason is because the past is part of WHO we are TODAY. And no matter how hard any of us try, the human mind makes it utterly impossible to EVER forget. So, what’s the solution? Took me awhile to arrive at the answer. In fact, it took nearly two years before it finally sunk in. Here’s where the explanation gets a little tricky.
For instance, when someone asks me: “Do you have any regrets, either with what you’ve done or said that might have caused someone pain?” Here’s my stock answer: “No. Because if I did, it means I didn’t learn a darn thing.” Think about that statement for a second. Seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? But if we are to truly “live in the moment”, we have to realize that the past is part of that. What I’VE chosen to do is bring ONLY the good and positive memories with me into the present, leaving the painful ones behind. But I will never forget them. Rather, I’ve chosen to use those mistakes of the past and turn them into assets TODAY. In the simplest terms, we learn from our mistakes. Not brush them aside or sweep them under rug as if they never existed. Fact is, they DID. I can’t change that. What I CAN change is how I choose to use those mistakes as assets today to help myself, my friends, and most importantly, my family.
So, going back to my original question then. Think of someone, someone you’ve caused pain in whatever fashion in the past, someone you THEN made sincere amends to, and they, at least on the surface, appeared to ACCEPT those amends. Then something happens years later, something is said or done that “triggers” that old wound to open in the other person, and suddenly their innermost feelings of anger come gushing forth, spewing out harsh words to you. How did that make you feel? Would it make you angry? Would you want to lash back and say, “Hey! I thought that was behind us! What gives?” I think most people might. Not me and here’s why.
Recently, I found myself in that exact situation as I’ve posed to you. Less than two years ago, my reaction would have been much the same as yours might have been. I might have lashed back verbally to this individual. But, I didn’t. Sure, I was mad, hopping mad in fact. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! And then all of the training and growth I’ve accomplished came to the surface. Rather than fighting back, I ACCEPTED the fact that the other individual has still not truly ACCEPTED my amends. I did my job then. I made my peace the best I knew how long ago. What the other person does today when those feelings of pain come to the surface for them is THEIR feelings, not mine.
Similarly, the same goes for you. If you have or ever find yourself in a similar situation, ask yourself this question: Is my emotional peace worth it to react negatively? Perhaps the following lesson about “Expectations and Serenity” might help:
One of the best things anyone should remember is that your serenity is inversely proportional to your expectations. The higher your expectations of other people are, chances are that your serenity will be lower. You can watch your serenity rise when you discard your expectations. But then "rights" try to move in, and they too can force your serenity level down. You have to discard your "rights", as well as your expectations, by asking yourself, How important is it, really? How important is it compared to your serenity, your emotional peace? And when you place more value on your serenity and inner peace than anything else, you can maintain them at a higher level, at least for a time. So keep your magic magnifying mind ON your acceptance and OFF your expectations, for your serenity is directly proportional to your level of acceptance. When you remember this, you will see that you never had it so good!
But also remember this, something a wise man once told me after reading that paragraph above to me one day: “Just because I read all this to you doesn’t mean if I walk out that door and some dog pees on my leg, I’m not going to kick his butt into the next county!”
He was kidding, of course! What I think what he was trying to say is this: “Hey, just because I read all this doesn’t mean I won’t get angry. I will, trust me. After all, I’m human, just like you.”
Fortunately, we ALL are, right? Live and let live. Let go, and let God. Easy does it. That should be our motto. Have a great day!