The irony in writing this post is that not too long ago I was on the phone telling my mom, “I don’t even feel like blogging anymore.” I planned on starting the new year with a switch from written to video blogs but somewhere along the way, lost not only my motivation, but also began questioning my own happiness and life decisions. It was a huge deal considering I’ve kinda built my life around this subject. One could say, I had quite a few “coming to Jesus moments” these past few weeks that really required some heavy duty forgiveness. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Step One: Forgive Yourself
When I throw myself a pity party, I nerd out. I binge buy books at Barnes and Noble, don’t eat, don’t drink alcohol, and sleep to avoid thinking… until I wake up and think ughhh, fuccckkkk I just want to fuckin sleep…fucking fuck *pillow punch*! When I’m frustrated I often start a lot of repetitive self-talk..and swearing. Most of it starts with “If I were, If I did, I suck at, I won’t ever, I can’t, I’m never…etc.” The worst part about it is that 90-95% of our daily thoughts are repetitive, so they’re not even original jabs. Having monkey mind is like having the meanest, most bipolar, roommate ever. Your roommate can go from saying “you rock at life” to “you suck at life” in a matter of minutes. The biggest thing I learned is that recognizing your frustration is the first step towards forgiving yourself. Think about it this way, you’re watching a really good movie, so good that you forget you’re on your couch watching it. You feel how the characters feel, are all up in the scene with them, you’re not even aware of your surroundings. Your thoughts are like a movie, you get so lost in them that you forget that they aren’t you. The fact that you can watch them proves that. The first lesson in forgiveness is recognizing that you are not your thoughts. When you realize that your true essence is separate from your thoughts, you’ll be able to look at your emotions and say, “I forgive you crazy roommate mind for making me feel bad.” Once you’re able to separate your true essence from your emotions, you’ll be able to be compassionate towards yourself and, as a result, compassionate towards others.
Step Two: Believe That Everyone is Inherently Good
Recognizing your emotions makes it a lot easier to empathize with others. If your roommate of a mind annoys you, you have to think that everyone else is dealing with the same shitty roommate. People often reflect their early life experiences, which you can interpret as good or bad depending on your own early life experiences. Ultimately, however, everyone just wants to experience love and happiness. When you treat people with compassion and recognize that much of what you like or dislike about them, you like or dislike about yourself, you’ll be able to forgive them.
Step Three: Be The Change You Wish To See
My dad and I haven’t been close since I was little. Up until recently, I was really, really bitter about it. I felt like, “you’re the dad, you’re supposed to be the one to fix this, not me.” I resented my stepmom, him, and anyone else I could resent for it. He and my stepmom became a scapegoat for pretty much everything that went wrong in my life. Here’s the thing, feeling bitter is like creating a poison and drinking it yourself. It doesn’t change the other person. Forgiveness and love, however, can change the situation. If I wanted things to get better, I had to be the one to create the change. So I did. I now make it a point to call him once a week and he’s started making it a point to pick up or return my calls immediately. I have even started writing him letters and mailing him things to read and Google (the man is bored and retired). I recently learned that my dad calls my grandmother once a week and, rather than thinking, “well why didn’t you ever call me” I turned it around and thought, I’ll be like he is towards my grandmother. At the beginning it was painful. I really didn’t want to call him. But I’ve learned that sometimes the things you reallllyyyy don’t want to do are the things you really should do, especially when it comes to creating change. So channel your inner Gandhi or MLK and be the change you wish to see. They were both pretty baller.
Step 4: Practice Self-Care
Forgiving yourself, forgiving others, and creating change can take a lot out of you. It’s work, but good work that you’re so unbelievably capable of doing. To facilitate the process and make it easier, I’ve found it nice to practice a lot of self-care, because you’re the only person who can take care of you and you’re of no service to others if you can’t be your best self. I meditate, journal, and give myself a massage daily. Try aromatherapy, take a nice bubble bath, play sports, hang out with animals, talk to someone you love. Make a list of all the things you do to relax and do them. When you allow yourself to enjoy and experience these things, you’ll not only be a blessing to yourself, you’ll be a blessing to others.