What is more important: your relationships or your perceived past grievances?
This is Thanksgiving week and some of us don't look forward to the get-togethers. I have learned that families can carry a lot of emotional baggage about the past. Thanksgiving brings out the carry-ons, the rollaboards and the biggest checked baggage pieces you can imagine.
Personalities, past slights, injustices....does it help to carry those pain points forward year after year? What does it serve to emotionally pigeon hole someone into a grudge from a past event? Nothing.
Holding onto a grudge or a slight means you have to re-live that event over and over. It doesn't allow space for things to change. You can say to yourself "If they would only say -this-", or "If they would only do -that-" I can forgive and forget. What if the person never does? You are left to sit and spin and stew in those feelings of anger. Where does that leave you besides stuck in the past? Who does that serve?
Consider a shift this Thanksgiving. One of these options can result in huge progress in the quality of your relationships:
1. Let the other person know how much it hurt you when they did "-blank". Share with them that you can understand that they may not have meant to hurt you but you are left with those feelings. You have let it affect your relationship with that person and you would like for that to change so from today forward you are taking a new viewpoint and moving beyond your hurt feelings. You want them to know your relationship means more than a past pain point. You will find this approach clears the air and gives the other person the opportunity to apologize for and take ownership of that event. They may not even know that they hurt you (really, it happens). Maybe they don't apologize for it and that is okay. The important thing is for you to say it to yourself (and them) and then honor your intentions of letting it go.
2. Intentionally and internally make the same decision above and let it go. Sometimes we may not feel comfortable with a face-to-face chat and that is okay. Forgiving does not mean that you condone the behavior. To forgive means that you are letting go of the wish for a different outcome. As you let go, so does the negative energy you have been holding inside. This shifts your behavior toward the person and in turn, this will naturally begin to shift the way they respond to you. As this happens, repair begins very slowly and naturally.
3. Sometimes relationships are meant to pass. If a relationship isn't that important to you it may be best to just let it go to make room for cleaner and healthier energy. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay forever. We learn from them and move on. If you choose to move on, please review option 2 above. Letting go through forgiveness clears your mind and energy and opens space to allow better and more fulfilling relationships to take hold.
If you feel that the world has done you wrong and has given you the short end of the stick, go volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Visit with kids in a pediatric cancer unit, pets at the Humane Society or an Alzheimer's unit. Spend some time with others who are struggling too. It helps show us that we all are bound by the struggle of this world, this life. It is through this struggle that we learn about ourselves. How can we make peace, make a change, and make a difference?
There is always something to be grateful for, of only for the ability to be grateful. We are all in this together and it is important to keep that thought top of mind. Remember what is truly important: Love and each other.
Happy Thanksgiving and go make some change!