Lessons on Forgiveness Stop punishing your future and move forward with the ones you love. BY LORI S. RUBENSTEIN, JD, CPC
In order to move forward, you must open up and take responsibility for your past.
“ As long as I was blaming him, I did not have to look at myself. I did not have to take any responsibility at all for my piece in the break-up of the marriage.”
Weíve all seen people who walk around with a chip on their shoulders. People who never get over a wrong or a hurt. You know exactly who Iím talking about.
As a divorce attorney, I came into contact with many people who built great big walls around themselves to avoid getting hurt again. In fact, I myself discovered the art of building a fortress around my own heart. It contained a tiny little door that only my children, dog, and cat could squeeze through. Heaven help the man who tried to love me and knock those bricks down!
I wanted love, but I didnít want to be hurt again. While I remained imprisoned inside my walled-fortress, thinking I was punishing my ex, who in reality moved on with his life, I was withering away emotionally.
My story is not unusual, I know that, but one day it hit me! I was destroying my future by playing the victim. Poor me! My husband did this to me. As long as I was blaming him, I did not have to look at myself. I did not have to take any responsibility at all for my piece in the break-up of the marriage. How convenient.
The truth is, and Iím embarrassed to say, it took my second husband to teach me the importance of forgiving. I met Michael in Israel on a volunteer program. He was wise and gave me space and time to learn how to trust, be vulnerable and love again.
As the walls came down, my heart opened and I allowed him to lead me through a forgiveness process. We took out my box of past memories, which was actually a box of past hurts! It held notes and letters from everyone who wronged me or hurt me. I held onto them because they were the proof of how they all hurt me. We had a ceremony. I shared the notes with him, I asked to forgive myself and we burned them.
It was the first layer of forgiveness. As I forgave, I stopped being a victim. I found my real strength. I started liking who I was. I softened. Iím not saying all this happened immediately, but over the next year, the bricks on my wall began to disintegrate and I stopped punishing my future!
With forgiveness I learned that I could be hurt and heal again. It was within my ability to bounce back! Now that is real, authentic power!
Here are three helpful next-steps if you are ready to forgive:
1. Set an intention and vision for where you want to be and then ask what is the next step? Remember the past does not equal the future.
2. A door must close in order for a new one to open. When they first close, itís scary, later the blessings are revealed. If we focus on our fears, on that closed door, we leave no room for the new one to open. Donít let your past punish your future.
3. Accept the past as fact, donít try to change it. From a spiritual perspective, there is no right or wrong path, all are lessons. From a human perspective, some paths are easier than others. Itís nice to be able to learn lessons in a more gentle way rather than the banging our heads against a wall way. Acceptance allows us to be on a gentler path, where we no longer beat ourselves up.