Welcome to a new chapter in the story of our country, a chapter starting with possibility and hope, as well as unrest. As we watch and wonder how long it will take for our country’s division to be resolved, we can turn our attention from the television, phone, iPad, and other devices, and look inside of ourselves right now.
As part of my new year commitment to myself, I have been taking extra time every day to ingest spiritual teachings that resonate with me. One such reading is from the book Discourses, by Meher Baba, whose place of final rest I was privileged to visit one year ago. In the chapter called, “The New Humanity”, Baba explains that wars and conflict stem from the human tendencies of competition, conflict, and rivalry; and by the time there is a large war or division, these tendencies have long had their way in the hearts and minds of individuals. Wars, Baba states, are just the out-picturing of these states of mind and behavior. Elimination of these tendencies is what will resolve all need for war.
In reflecting on this reading and my Unity-raised background, over 2,000 times in my life singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (I calculated that number!), I took inventory of where I might be perpetuating competition, conflict, and rivalry. It didn’t take much looking! There are so many avenues of expressing these little human traits: Age, politics, values, beliefs, and even food choices! I’m sure my list would be unending.
Are you willing to take that inventory? I invite you to look at the ways you compete with others, even if in your own head! Do you feel superior or inferior to someone else? The popular catch-phrase in recent years could be included in this inventory: FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Are you afraid someone will get something (an experience, a thing, an attention of some kind) that you might miss out on? That’s competition and rivalry, too!
Once being aware of these divisive tendencies, our challenge is to weed them out of our internal common practice. We could ask ourselves:
If wasn’t looking at this [person, situation] through the lens of “them versus me”, how would I approach it differently?
Can I see that “they” hold their views as tightly and righteously as I hold mine?
Can I have compassion for human opinion because it has ever been thus?
Can I see that the only person I can truly change is myself?
What constructive action can I take with my human opinion, instead of using it to separate “me” from “them”? (Volunteer? Vote? Teach? Forgive? Release my own fears? YES!)
“Be not afraid”. If you look this phrase up on the internet, you will find it in hundreds of passages in the Bible (and many other wise, spiritual teachings), always offering us assurance that everything will work out for good. Jesus, a Divine Spokesperson in human form, encouraged listeners to have faith and be strong—don’t let your fear swallow you whole!
Don’t let fear or anger swallow you whole.
Remember and hold consciously, there is a Divine Plan to wake us all up—even “them”! Join with me in seeing that without conflict, we can’t see what needs to be healed. We are seeing it. Now we can help heal it, beginning with “us”—you and me.
Peace begins now.
Photo by Lynn Barrette, 2020. Meherabad, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India. 51st Celebration of Meher Baba’s Mahasamadi. OM.
We are experiencing a unique time. We all have a great need to connect and support each other, even when physical connection is necessarily limited right now. I offer you what I am practicing myself, and sharing with others in my work.
The pandemic is a global issue that is affecting EVERYONE on the planet right now; and we are all in shock. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are in shock. Whenever we experience something that we don’t know how to fully wrap our minds around, our brain/body system goes into a state of shock of self-protection until we can fully grasp what is happening or has happened to us.
Fear is contagious; so is PEACE. Everything we do right now to support ourselves in maintaining our own calm is supporting humanity. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to help everyone.
How has the pandemic affected you so far? Have you noticed any of these:
Left to our own thoughts
More intense relationship time
Less positive validation from others
Easy to forget our impact
Depletion of positive activities
Decreased human touch / Hugs
Touching on old issues/trauma
What positive outcome can you see coming from this time?
Re-evaluate priorities – What is really important to you?
Let go of bad habits
Reinforce positive changes
Commit to being good to yourself
Remember your basic self-care right now:
Maintain healthy hygiene
Maintain good nutrition
Do those little things that help you feel extra good about yourself
Keep moving! Go for walks as available
Get outside, get sun
Take advantage of YouTube: Yoga, exercise videos, variety of movement
Laughter and play are essential!
Connect with others via telephone, FaceTime, Skype, etc
Be productive – Get those home projects done!
And, be extra aware of what is happening on the INSIDE of you during this time. How you are feeling and coping with our current reality will likely change every day!
Have compassion for yourself right now.
None—NONE–of us know what we’re doing!
Write down your thoughts and feelings about what is happening and how it is affecting you
How are you different because of this? How might you be different?
Look for positive possibilities within the upheaval
Embrace the moment / BE HERE NOW more than ever
Listen to your inner voice and follow that inner prompting
Here is a simple guide to be aware of your inner process:
Proceed from your calm state
Know Yourself: In order to manage your own emotion, you must first be aware of what emotions are arising in you. Pay attention to yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, your body tension. How does feeling stressed or affected by the pandemic show up for you? Other questions to help you be aware of yourself include:
How are you dealing with what is happening? Serious? Flippant? Afraid? Superhero? Numb?
What in your life has changed already because of this?
What might possibly change in the near or distant future?
What do you need during this time to care for yourself?
Be aware—you might not know the answers to any of these yet!
Have alone time if you’re at home with others — Be with YOU!
Stop. STOP. STOP! : Regaining clarity to your body means moving from a state of dysregulation (agitation) to regulation (calm). Your mind-body system will follow your focus. Step away from the thoughts.
Go for a walk and pay attention to the nature that you see.
Notice that birds are still singing, clouds are still blowing by, grass is still growing green, flowers are emerging
Get up and clean something – you know, THAT closet… Be productive!
Quiet mind, quiet body / Quiet body, quiet mind
Proceed from Your Calm State: When your mind-body system is calm, your thinking is clear, “Proceeding” can mean:
Take an action – Reach out, rest, write your thoughts, be productive,
Let go of believing that there is something you can control
Be there for someone else – Get out of yourself
Did I mention, “Let go”?
Flow with the current reality
Your best support of yourself, your loved ones, your community, your global family right now is cooperating with the public safety measures and taking the best care of yourself that you can, with love, compassion, and supporting your own peace daily.
Let’s break this down: How you ever found yourself in a transition that you chose? Have you ever found yourself in a transition that you didn’t choose?
Those can feel a lot harder, can’t they? Transitions we choose can sometimes feel exciting, empowering, refreshing. But if we didn’t choose it, it can feel like the rug got pulled out from under us. Those can also be the best spiritual lessons ever!
Chris Chenoweth, who has spoken here in the past and was the minister at Unity Village Chapel for years, called these kind of lessons “Blessons” because they were both blessings and lessons all in one topsy-turvy package.
I recently moved from an apartment to a house with my son, and it’s been a whole bunch of blessons left and right and it’s been a great time!
While I was packing, I somehow managed to pack all of my coffee filters two weeks before my move, or at least I thought I did. And let me tell you why this is a big deal. I’m the person who sets up the coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is push a button because when I mess around with ground coffee before my coffee, I end up making a mess all over the place. That’s the kind of morning person I am. I’m cheery and pleasant, just don’t ask me to make any major life decisions before at least half a cup of coffee.
I was packing and taping boxes together with a tape gun. You know those large tape dispensers that get the job done fast? I’m taping up boxes and somehow I pick up this tape dispenser by the sharp edge and poke a couple holes in my finger. So now I’m bleeding everywhere, and do you know what else I packed?
No, I hadn’t packed my Band-Aids because I hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. The things I barely use, like Band-aids, were right where I needed them in the moment; while the things I use every day, like coffee filters, were packed in a taped-up box somewhere. So, lucky me, right? The Universe was watching out for me that day, right?
Yes, so I bandage up my finger, not because it was a bad wound, but because I didn’t want to bleed all over everything as I was boxing things up. So I bandage my finger and I’m finishing boxing up the kitchen, and guess what I found? More coffee filters. Doh!
So why am I telling you all of this silly stuff? Because things can be topsy turvy in times of transitions! That’s part of the fun!
St. Francis advised his followers to“wear the world like a loose garment,” What he meant was that in order to be free, you need to be in the world without being attached to how it hangs on you.
Transitions, times of change, are those times when we are pushed to hang more loosely, loosen our grip on what we thought was solid ground, because there is no permanent solid ground in life! Things are always changing, and if one thing in your life isn’t changing now, just stick around–it will!
Wear the world like a loose garment. Jesus demonstrated being in the world but not of the world. That’s not so hard when it’s a simple move and we’re talking about coffee filters, but what about losing a job, or a loved one, or a minister, or a house in a hurricane?
I learned from my meditation teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, to manage change with grace and wisdom. She taught me about her “Seven Steps” process soon after I first met her 25 years ago, right before I got married because it was a big life transition, and the whole title of the original Seven Step process is “Seven Steps for Moving through Life Transitions.” That’s exactly what it’s for!
It came to her in a vision when her mom passed. She was grieving and didn’t know what to do. She saw these Seven Steps and the different facets of a grieving process: Gratitude, Good Times, Hopes and Dreams, Disappointments and Difficulties, Forgiveness, Release, and Completion. She knew she had to work those steps, too, so she journaled them and was able to move forward after losing that outer connection with her mother.
Over the many years or working with this process, for changes big and seemingly little, I learned that embracing any change is part of life, and it is possible to flow with it, even when you puncture yourself with a tape gun!
In my therapy practice, I share the “Seven Steps” all the time because it’s a great tool for working through all the emotions and confusion that come up during times of change. Doing this work does, indeed, make the crooked road straight! So I share it with everyone I possibly can, as often as I can!
Whenever we have something in our life that we have invested time and energy into, it becomes part of who we are; be it a relationship, a home, a car, a job, anything! When something becomes part of our identity, it’s a garment that we’re wearing. When it’s time to change, we need to take it off the old garment, appreciate all its aspects, then let it go, so we’re ready to put on the new and improved garment of the next scene in our play.
Anytime I’ve ever moved, I’ve taken the place I was moving from up those “Seven Steps” in order to release the attachment and emotion from the current situation so that I’m walking into my new circumstances as clear and open as I possibly can. Before I started packing my coffee filters prematurely, I took my condo up the “Seven Steps” to let it go and move forward.
Our road is clearer when we aren’t taking our emotions, positive and negative, into our new situation. But we have to do our part on that.
I don’t always quote the Bible in talks—I usually leave that to the professionals—but when I do, it’s because a quote or a story has stood out to me and meant something significant to me over the years.
One story that I both love and resist (and you’ll find out why shortly), is Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins:
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (NIV)
1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Why do I resist that? Because it’s a great story about being prepared for the next step that’s coming, and that means work on my part, and I’m human, so I resist that! Isn’t there enough work to be done during a transition? Why would I put myself through more work?
Because, like the women in this parable, we have to be prepared for our next step. If we’re not clearing the way for that step to happen as seamlessly as possible, we could end up missing something very important—like making our transition much easier on ourselves!
What’s one thing we can be fairly certain of in times of transition? Uncertainty! We’re moving from one thing to the next, and we have only an imaginary idea of what’s coming, based on the little information that we have.
In times of transition there is so much going on already, why would we want our emotional baggage to interfere and put a hindrance there that isn’t necessary? Why do that to ourselves instead of doing what I call the “front-end maintenance” of the spiritual/emotional/mental work of releasing the old and preparing for the new?
Right now, think of a life transition that may be coming in the future, maybe a making job change, getting a new car, moving to a new home, perhaps someone in your life is preparing for a life transition that will take them out of your life somehow. What in your life needs releasing? What garment needs to be worn more loosely, or replaced altogether?
Use the “Seven Steps” or some other conscious, thorough release process to let it go so that you can walk forward free and clear. Then when you prematurely pack your coffee filters, it’s no big deal! You can adjust and keep moving forward!
Note: This is not a verbatim transcription of the talk. In preparing for a talk, one often prepares far more than needed, and remembers far less than desired. At least, that’s true for me. So this “article” is based on my rough notes before the talk, which is not exactly how the talk went. But, I’m a busy professional, so this is the least time-intensive thing I could post with the video. I hope you enjoy it!
You are a soul in evolution, awakening over time to who you are as a human being, and who you are in your divinity.
Our friends at Mirriam Webster define evolution in this way: “To develop by evolutionary processes from a primitive to a more highly organized form.”
Soul Evolution, then, is the process each soul goes trhough to develop from lesser to greater awareness of itself as Pure Energy, part of the Infinite Presence of the Universe.
We are all in this process together; so, you might be a Soul Evolutionist if…
You want to be connected to that Infinite Presence, and want to develop that connection even more.
You have a desire and longing to feel your connection to something greater than yourself, and feel that longing in your heart and whole being.
When I was 19 years old, I had just completed my term as International President of the Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.), the youth group of my denomination. It was a fantastic year, filled with joy and loving connections across the country. I felt satisfied as I entered my sophomore year in college. Over the second weekend, my roommmate had gone home, and I decided to clean our room (primarily my mess!). I put in a cassette tape (eek) of some of my favorite spiritual chants to listen to while I was cleaning. My favorite one came on, so I sang along with the words: “I surrender to the Love of God, flowing through my life.”
I sang these words over and over again as I moved around the room picking things up. Suddenly, I started crying and dropped to my knees. As I watched myself cry from the inside, I wondered, “Why am I crying? Everything is going well; I have no reason to cry.”
I then “heard” a loud, booming voice. I turned to see if someone was in the room with me, but knew it was coming from inside of myself.
“Don’t be done with God, just because you’re done with Y.O.U.”
A montage of images flashed through my mind, showing me how one part of me thought I was doing my spiritual service for the accolades from family and friends. What this “voice” was showing me was that I was acting out of the deepest desire of my heart. MY heart; not anyone else’s. I adjusted my life plans to align with this desire from that day forward.
What is your deepest desire, and how do your actions align with that?
You might be a soul evolutionist if…
You know there is a “morfe” to life than what you experience with your five physical senses.
We call this intution, and it is an innate appendage to who you are. The more you use it, the better it works for you. Call on it. Ask for guidance in the little things to help hone and strengthen your awareness of and trust in your intuitive promptings. The Soul Evolutionist knows to turn to that inner resource in life circumstances, big and small.
You might be a Soul Evolutionist if…
You want to understand why things are happening inside and outside of you.
You see the injustices of the world and wonder why they exist. Why is my son a natural musician and I fizzled out of my piano lessons when I was ten years old? Does God love him more than me? Is he special and I’m chopped liver? Or, did he work hard to deveolp that talent before he came into this world?
There are answers to these questions, and the Soul Evolutionist is no longer satisfied with the mystery. You ask “Why?” and forge your way deeper into learning the workings of the Universe, while at the same time beginning to understand your own inner workings.
You might be a Soul Evolutionist if…
You know that you are responsible for taking part in the awakening of yourself to your Self, and you embrace that active participation.
It’s not just about knowing a little bit about meditaiton, or forgiveness, or intuition; it’s about realinzing that with that knowledge comes a palpable responsibility to do something about it–to put your spiritual understandings into everyday practice. How do you use meditaiton to support your awareness? How do you use forgiveness when up against someone who is really pushing your buttons? How do you incorporate your intuition in every area of your life?
How do you consciously, willingly, triumphantly support your soul’s evolution?
Lynn Barrette, here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor, talkiing to you about how it takes a whole lot of “no”s to make a “YES”!
As we set up a goal, the first thing we do is have an idea for a goal. Perhaps we’d like a new job, behavior change, relationship, or life tranisition of any kind.
Next we define that goal: What it looks and feels like, what action steps are involved, and so forth.
Then the tricky part comes in: Keeping your focus on your goal, and aligning your actions and choices with that goal! That includes saying “no” to anything that doesn’t back up your goal.
Let’s take, for example, the goal of eating healthier foods. You say “Yes” to healthy foods, and “No” to all the tempting sweets and processed foods that aren’t going to fit your goal. Yes to greens, no to cookies. Yes to whole fruits, no to that third piece of bread; and so forth. Each time you say no, you are brining yourself back to your goal and strengthening your resolve and building confidence and assurance wtih it.
In this video, I give a personal example that I’ve been working on, that came to a wonderful fruition just this week. As I describe my process, as a side note I mention a journaling and release process called “Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions“, and promised to include the link, so simply click for a pdf download of the wonderful tool.
Through the process of saying “Yes” and “No” toward your goal, you define and refine your focus, then you know when your goal is achieved, that it is exactly what you are looking for. Be willing to say “Yes!” but don’t forget that your “No!” is just as valuable on your journey.
Are you aware of the spiritual school of life that is teaching you all the time?
Every day you wake up is a new day in spiritual school. Your life is your classroom, and all those around you are your classmates! This spiritual school has structure, lesson plans, and homework!
What does spiritual school structure look like? Since you don’t have a specific, physical classroom to go to everyday, you have to create your own daily structure that supports the rest of your learning. Lessons are always coming your way; having a daily structure in place gives you the mental and emotional space to be aware, receptive, and ready to tackle the lessons that arise.
Do you have a daily prayer or meditation time? A 10 minute time set aside to journal about your day, what came up for you, what you learned, or what you’re grateful for? Do you make your bed in the morning as an outer ritual representing setting the intention to be responsible for what belongs to you in the day’s lessons?
A few years ago, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven shared with University of Texas, Austin, graduates that making their beds in the morning was the best way to start their day. Among chuckles, he reiterated that making your bed is “accomplishing the first task of the day”, giving you confidence and motivating you to accomplish your next several tasks in your day. One accomplishment leads to another, and each “little thing” you do for yourself supports the bigger things that arise.* Every step we take to be on target with your day, supports your spiritual growth as well!
Having structure holds the space for everything else you do during your day. If you don’t have at least an idea of how each day flows, you have to spend time each day figuring out your structure–with less time left to handle the lessons that are taking place all around you! You don’t want to be rigid with your structure either, however. Then you are spending all your energy controlling your structure, which also takes your focus away from what you’re really supposed to be doing–learning!
And oh, those spiritual life lessons! The major lesson in spiritual school is mastering yourself. There is a lot floating around in your mind/body system. Your job is to learn to sort out what is real and what is not.
There’s a saying that goes, “God made man in God’s image, and man returned the favor.” Everyone has a false “god”, or authority figure, in their minds that erroneously critiques along the way. Your spiritual school lesson is to kick out that negative voice and replace it with what is real and true about you. If you believe what created this universe is loving and wise, then so that must be true about you.
As a therapist, I can often sense that when people first come in to see me, they are expecting me to confirm that negative voice in their heads. “I’m disorganized, I don’t eat right or exercise, I yell at my kids…I’m a mess!” But what I see is a soul in evolution doing the best they can, while that critical voice in their heads is telling them everything they do is wrong. It’s lying to them, just as the negative voice in your head is whispering “alternative facts” at you throughout the day. Pay attention to it–then say, “NO!”
Spend some time daily “marinating” in the feeling of being 100% okay, even as you are learning and growing every day. Have a meditation practice as part of your spiritual school structure, and sit with the feeling of peace, even if you have to just pretend what that might feel like. Cultivate the opposite sensations of “I’m not okay”, and watch that new experience support you fully!
The next chapter to that lesson in mastering yourself is to practice forgiveness. The need to forgive is all around! Parents, kids, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, other drivers on the road, pets… Ev. ‘Ry. Where.
Our family dog has had issues with his ears since he was a pup. My job was to put medicine in his ears, a process he actively hated early on. We had some pretty serious tussles. We struggled and growled at each other, but I never bit him back. I did, however, realize that there was a very thin line between “I’m not a violet person” and “Worth it”. I finally realized that since I am the more evolved species of the two of us, it was up to me to do a little forgiveness work on this canine so that at least one of us was mature and calm. After that, I was able to take less personally his survival instinct struggles and administer his ear medicine. Today, he is patient and happy to get his bribe, er, treat afterwards.
There are a couple tools that I like to use, both personally and in my practice, that help master emotions. So here are handouts for your spiritual school assignments!
You can use this graphic to measure where you are on the emotional mastery scale at a given moment. A “5” on the thermometer is a neutral state. Anything below a 5 is emotional overload, whether the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, or ecstasy (read: mania). Above the 5 is your clear-thinking state. The higher you go, the more intuitive connection you can experience. When you feel yourself in your emotions, or below a 5, don’t take action. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask, “What emotion, if any, is running me right now?” Use the emotion to discover, process, and release what you need to as part of your spiritual school homework. Lighten your load!
Another handout for this spiritual school lesson is called the “Agitated Energy Process”. I use this simple, three-step process frequently in my practice, as well as with myself. It goes like this:
1. When you feel agitated (stressed, tense, emotional), ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I am feeling?” (Use emotion words to label what you are feeling; i.e., anger, hurt, sadness, fear, frustration, etc. This is a brief one or two word response. Take emotions one at a time and keep it simple.)
2. Then ask, “What story am I telling myself that is causing me to feel this way?” (What is the emotion telling you/saying? Remember, sometimes this story has some facts to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always telling the truth about those facts. Even when it is telling the truth, the awareness that the “truth” is agitating you means that there’s a perspective shift that needs to take place.)
3. Then, “What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?” (What comes up as your new way of looking at the situation?)
Do you feel calm once you’ve walked through the process? If so, you’re done! If not, repeat the process until you feel relative peaceful and calm in your body. This is a great daily emotional/mental/spiritual hygiene practice!
Spiritual school is like a Montessori-style classroom: No matter where you are, there is someone you can help along the way; and, there is someone who can help you take your next step. Spiritual service to others is part of our spiritual school homework!
When you wake up in the morning, spiritual school is in session! Set your intention for the day. Make your bed and say, “Okay, Universe, help me see my lesson today, and give me the support to master today’s lesson!”
How do you hear your inner authority? How does your inside speak to you?
And most importantly, do you listen? Do you follow the inner promptings of your soul? Do you pay attention to what is going on on the inside of you, as much as you are paying attention to the outside?
Just like all the social media, politics, or cell phone games that you might keep track of, your inner Voice is speaking to you, wanting your attention. The wonderful difference is that your inner Authority will give you useful information!
Just like our streets have limits and guidelines to keep us safe and on track on our automobile journeys, so too does our inner world have its needs, guidelines, instruction that keep us safe and on track on our life journeys!
Two years ago, my dad had part of his esophagus removed due to a growth found at a doctor appointment. I detoured my family vacation to go help out after his surgery.
My inside was telling me that I felt afraid for him. What would happen? What could happen? What if he dies? All these worries went through my mind over and again, and I knew what I had to do. I took the “Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties” journaling process by Jane Elizabeth Hart, and used it to write my way through my fears. Actually, I had to go through that Seven Step process twice because I didn’t get it all moved through the first time.
As I worked through my fears, I came to realize that his well-being had nothing to do with me or my desire for my dad. His wellness, his life, was between him and his soul; no one else. If he was going to live, awesome! If it was his time to pass on, then ultimately, that was for the best possible outcome for him and his soul awakening.
By the time I arrived at the hospital, my dad was walking around. I was able to be present, aware, mindful, faithful, and strong as I did what was in my power to do to help out. I didn’t drown in my fears, nor did my judgment get foggy because of my emotional attachments to him. I was able to use my love for him in the highest, most useful way possible. Plus, we had a great time laughing at all the food commercials that one doesn’t notice until sitting with someone who can’t take in solid food in that moment!
What if I hadn’t listened to what was going on with me? What if I tried to ignore the feelings that were there, and just tried to listen to my inner Voice? Knowing myself the way I do, I imagine my emotions and fears would have out-shouted my calm, subtle, inner guidance. I imagine I might not have been much help or moral support for anyone during that time. My fear energy might have stressed out everyone around me, especially my dad who was busy working on his visualizations and healing processes.
It was hard to release my dad, to let go of my attachment to him being around for a long time. It was scary. But, it would have been harder to move through that time in fear and despair. I did my “front-end maintenance”, a car term for keep your vehicle tuned up so you can avoid unnecessary problems. I am so glad he and I had that time together for his healing and our closeness.
What is your inside saying? Is it telling you that you have work to do, like I did with my dad? Is it giving you encouragement in a direction that you might not want to listen to? You don’t have to listen, but your life will be much simpler if you do.
Watch the video and learn a few ways to practice listening to your inside!
Let’s talk about how to forgive! In this video, I give you a few specific processes for how to work your forgiveness need, covering the steps from previous videos in this series: Acceptance, Compassion, Release.
In my previous video post, we took a thorough look at what forgiveness is not; this time we are going to look at what forgiveness is, in a way that is healthy and palatable.
Forgiveness is the process of Acceptance, Compassion, and Release.
The first part of forgiveness is the acceptance that something has happened. If someone has hurt me, for example, I can’t do anything about that fact; it is what it is. I don’t have to like it, approve of it, or try to get anyone else to see or understand it.
When we’re dealing with the facts of what has happened, we are willing to be honest about those facts overall, not just the facts about what the other person did, or what the circumstances threw at us. Maybe I lashed out when I was hurt by another person, maybe I withdrew for a while, maybe I stood up for myself in the moment, maybe I was the one who screwed up first. All these are part of the facts that we accept.
Why is acceptance important? If we deny the facts of a situation, we’re not fully able to deal with our responses or the other person’s behavior, or process the forgiveness need. We know what really happened, even if our thoughts—or those of people around us–try to turn it into something else.
For example, if someone was sexually abused, but their family members are giving an alternative reality to that situation, it becomes difficult for the victim of that abuse to make peace with their own internal experience and reaction, which affects the healing process–which in turn has lasting side effects. When our experience is denied, by others or ourselves, we don’t have the clarity necessary to deal with the otherwise heal-able trauma around the event.
We must give ourselves permission to acknowledge facts. That goes back to what forgiveness is not, right? It is not denying ourselves the truth of what happened, or pretending nothing happened. Working with the facts helps us through our own emotional responses more efficiently.
Forgiveness is acknowledging the facts of your experience.
The second part of forgiveness is compassion, being able to look at the whole situation beyond our own emotional experience of it. This is where we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to try to see what they might have been intending or going through in that moment. We also try to see where we were coming from in the moment. We look above the facts in this step, to try to see the hurtful experience within the context of the time it happened, as honestly as possible.
In this part of the forgiveness process that we can learn what we need to about ourselves, about the other person. We see what we need to about our part in the situation, and what the event triggered in us. We see what we need to about the other person, and learn how to adjust ourselves given the new information we have gathered. (See my video post on Discernment versus Judgment for how to see behavior for what it is without getting all judgy about it.)
I’m not saying this is easy! Often it’s harder to have compassion for ourselves than it is to generate it for others. And sometimes we don’t want to have compassion for the other person; we want to hold on to the anger and resentment. But that’s why forgiveness is a process, right? We work at it until we are ready to rise above our emotional response. We don’t forget what happened, remember? We simply work with forgiveness process so that we can come to this point of compassion, and the next step, release.
Forgiveness is working toward compassion for the other person and yourself.
The third part of forgiveness is release. This is the point at which we are willing to release the emotional pain created by the hurtful experience. That pain is going to come up over and over and over again until we release it, so this is a vital step! We won’t forget to do our work, because life will remind us that our work isn’t done by those little triggers from the past. They poke at the emotional pain like when you poke a bruise on your arm and it hurts a little. That means the bruise hasn’t healed, right? Our emotional body is the same way. It will keep feeling sore until it is healed. But unlike our physical body that heals itself, we have to put conscious effort into the healing of our emotional pain.
When we have done the work of the first two steps, Acceptance and Compassion, the Release step is the action step of being aware when the emotional bruise gets poked at, or triggered, and reminding ourselves, “Oh yes, there it is. I am letting this go now.” And we pull ourselves back to a peaceful state of mind, not indulging in the pain or the story. This is the step where we choose Acceptance and Compassion as our reality moving forward, instead of holding onto resentment and emotional pain as our reality.
Release is the step where we choose acceptance and compassion as our reality instead of resentment and emotional pain.
And that is what forgiveness is.
In my next video, I’m going to talk with you about how to forgive. I have a couple tried and true processes to share with you to help you with your forgiveness work, so stay tuned, and thanks for watching!
Hi, Lynn Barrette here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor.
I want to talk with you today about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be a heavy topic sometimes, so this is going to be a several part series to help us break down this concept and make it palatable and accessible, because if we can’t forgive, we get stuck, and we don’t want to do that, right? So we’re going to take some time on this one.
Anytime I bring up forgiveness with clients or in workshops or classes, I always like to clarify what forgiveness means because there are so many ideas and misconceptions about what forgiveness is.
When I help someone define forgiveness, I start with what forgiveness is not. And that is what this video is about: What forgiveness is not.
First of all, forgiveness does not mean “forgive and forget”. Our brains aren’t made up to forget things unless we get a severe head injury or some other brain trauma, like a stroke. We are simply not biologically wired to forget things. We have beautiful memories, and whether you are more spiritually-minded or more scientific, we are created like this for a reason: those memories are there to ensure that we learn from our experiences and evolve as a species and in consciousness. So how can we be expected to forgive and forget when we’re not wired to do so?
Forgiveness does NOT mean “forgive and forget!” It means that we learn and grow.
Another misconception that comes up is that forgiveness means everyone gets a fresh start, even the person who did wrong, and we pretend like nothing happened. That’s not it either. If we are learning from our experiences, we take our new understanding with us every moment, and apply that new understanding moving forward. If someone hurts me, I have learned something: Sometimes this person is hurtful, and she certainly has been hurtful to me in this situation, so I need to adjust my mental, emotional, and sometimes physical behavior so that I can either deal with being around her, or make sure I am not around her anymore!
Forgiveness does not mean to pretend like nothing happened. It means adjust your internal and external behavior to support yourself, your safety.
A final myth I often hear about forgiveness is that if we forgive, we’ll be letting the other person get by with something. That’s not it either. Once we have taken care of our part of an interaction with someone—either by confronting them, adjusting ourselves internally and externally, or staying the heck away from them—our part is done.
There is a law that is scientific both in our physical and spiritual realm that states that whatever energy we put out comes back to us. And that is true at the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our existence. This doesn’t mean we turn that into some kind of superstitious curse on another person, as we often hear that “Karma will get them”! If we are saying that about someone, our forgiveness is not done! When we forgive, we are releasing ourselves from having to be a part of this person learning what they need to be learning. We don’t have to be responsible for seeing that “they get theirs”; we are only responsible for our own behavior, and what we are putting out at those physical, mental, and emotional levels. That’s a big job in itself, isn’t it?!
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that anyone gets by with anything; but it does mean we don’t have to worry about it.
So if all that is what forgiveness is NOT; what is forgiveness? That will be in my next video for you, so hold tight, it’s coming!