Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes and move on. – Les Brown
What does that mean?
To me, it talks of the futility of reliving the past. Dragging the anchors of your failures with you as you try to move into the future is not going to let you get very far.
After assessing a mistake (and learning from it), put it behind you and move forward with your life. Dwelling on the past and the mistakes you have made will not help you move into the future.
Why is forgiveness important?
How well does the famous Peanuts character Charlie Brown do in the “forgive yourself” category? How often does he soliloquize on his failures, or in discussions at the brick wall with his pal Linus? How often do others have to remind him to let go of the failures and try again?
Although she is normally antagonistic towards Charlie, and one of the first to call him a ‘block head’ at every opportunity, even Lucy will urge Charlie to forget the past failures and try again. And then she moves the football just as he tries to kick it. Sometimes forgiving others for being mean helps you move forward, a lesson I learned from the Peanuts gang.
And what happens without forgiveness? Do you ever get a chance to move on, or do you become anchored there, like the guy who raised his hand in the movie “Yellowbeard” (a Monty Python and friends production – the line, specifically: “nail that man’s foot to the deck” – just one, and he goes in circles – kind of corny, but if you’ve seen the movie, it makes perfect sense).
Where can I apply this in my life?
What have you done in your past that is holding you back right now? What thoughts are going through your head, what are you beating yourself up for? Make a list of all the things you are still sorry for, regretting, or hung up about.
For this one, due to it’s sensitive nature, should be done in your head (at least for the ones you don’t want ANYONE finding out about). Make a list on paper, either in code, or of some lesser offenses you are still beating yourself up about.
My list isn’t too long, and hasn’t really ever been that long. Two of my grandparents were born in another country and came to America before the Great Depression. They didn’t have time to feel sorry for themselves, as all 4 of my grandparents were raising kids during those difficult times.
I guess some of that hard-nosed attitude rubbed off on me. The biggest thing that had me upset was picking on my kid brother. I’d chase him around the house until I caught him, then tickle him until he was ready to puke. We’ve gotten over it, but for the longest time, it was really a drag on my self esteem and sense of self worth.
There was a single event that changed that. It was what came to symbolize the end of the ‘battle my brother’ stage of my life, and the beginning of a closeness not often seen in teenage boys: The Assassination of Snoopy. As teenage boys are wont to do, we’d been squabbling over some triviality.
Words escalated, and eventually, I threw a cold, wet wash cloth frisbee style, and hit my brother in the face. He responded by throwing a 3″ square chunk of plexiglass (an unheard of escalation) and I had just enough time to close my door. Thud, thrrrrrrr! It sounded like a cartoon arrow.
I was furious at him for the escalation, and threw open my door to go beat on him in person, when I saw it. The Snoopy poster on my door had the piece of plexiglass stuck in his forehead, ninja style. I started laughing. And laughed some more. My brother, sensing a trick opened his door long enough to take a peek. I continued laughing, he continued to sneak peeks.
After I fell down on the floor, pointing at the poster, he finally came out and saw what he had done. Then he started laughing. That was our last war, as we’d just have to reference Snoopy & we’d break out laughing. In a single event, we were able to forgive each other for all the crappy things we’d done to each other (well, mostly me doing to him, but he got his licks in from time to time). I’m smiling just typing about it!
What have you done in your past that you can laugh about now? Why not laugh about some of the other things? If you can’t laugh about it now, will you be able to laugh about it five years from now? How about ten years from now? If the answer to either is YES, why deprive yourself of all of those years of laughter. Laugh now!
Go through your list (both in your head and on paper) and see what you can laugh about. Take some time and really laugh. Roll on the floor, even, if it’s that funny. Now cross them off and consider yourself a bit sadder but much wiser, and move forward with your life.
If there’s an item on your list that you can’t laugh about because it hurts so bad or is so serious that laughter either won’t come or would be inappropriate, we’ll have to try other methods. For these items, consider what might help. Some suggestions include making a confession, doing penance or spending time in reflection.
In the end, you may need to resort to professional help. There are many organizations that help people with specific types of problems, and also places to go to get counseling. This direction can go all the way to a short term stint with a shrink (no disrespect intended, but a proper list would take quite some time), depending on what it takes to help you resolve your problem.
For a confession, the best might well be to confess to the person you injured (directly or indirectly) and ask forgiveness. If that’s not possible or if it’s too big a step to take, try finding someone you trust and confess to them. Most Catholic churches will take confessions from anyone, especially if they’re not busy.
They can’t see you and you can’t see them. Just explain you’re not of the parish (or even of the faith, if that’s the case) and tell them you need to get something off your chest. It might help, and it doesn’t take too much (other than personal courage), so it might be worth a try.
For doing penance, if you saw a Priest (mentioned as an option in confession, above), they might have some ideas for you. If you’re not Catholic, you might need to understand that doing a “Hail Mary” does not involve spending time on the football field. For me, doing penance (usually self directed) has always been best when it addressed the problem I had.
I had some other troubles in my youth, so I have spent a few years with kids in Scouts and other organizations. I was a little volatile as a youth, and so pursued peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible. Do what feels right, and if that isn’t enough, try something else.
For spending time in reflection, I mean to pray, to meditate, to sit quietly in contemplation, to take long walks in nature, to lay on your back and stare at the stars or whatever helps you feel better. The trick is to examine the event without emphasizing it.
One of the tricks I was taught to help with this method was to change the event from a movie to still pictures. Then muffle the sounds. Mute the colors, working towards pastels. Change them to soft focus. Dim the lights. Repeat until it’s just a soft gray blur. Learn your lesson from what you did, vow to find a better way, and move on.
In the end, hopefully, you have found a way to release the burden, and forgive yourself. With that weight off your shoulders, it’s time to move forward and get on with your life. And keep working on clearing all the items off your list!
From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lesbrown383214.html
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