"No man is rich enough
to buy back his past."
-- Oscar Wilde
I hear some people talk about past hurts and unfairnesses. Even though it is long over and gone, it is dragged back into the present moment to ponder, discuss, lament, laugh, remind us again. Often, people try to make sense of it and say they've forgiven so and so and that they've let go and such, but the reality of continuing to drag it back into the present speaks more to the truth that there really is not forgiveness, nor letting go, nor understanding even. It's just that the more time that has passed, the less powerful it is. Yet, that is an illusion, because it is very powerful. I have had all these experiences myself. I decided that I didn't ever want them again. It's a work in progress, but I'm ahead of the curve.
What changed for me is expressed nicely this quote from Alan Cohen: "Nobody shows up in your world except by your invitation." I have accepted the idea that I am the creator of my own reality, that good and bad are purely my own judgments or opinions, and that by acting as if I created everything and every situation on purpose, I can accept responsibility for my life, my actions, and my experiences.
At first it was challenging to seriously consider this idea, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. And the tools I used most often to create the change in me have been gratitude and appreciation. Consider this quote by Henri Nouwen: "Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint." I love how he says that "gratitude is a discipline." Choosing gratitude when things and circumstances encourage us to use different emotions is a tool to change the circumstances and things in time.
The second tool was appreciation. I have gotten into such a habit of appreciation now that everywhere I go, I am mentally finding something in every person, event, and situation to appreciate. I talk to myself mentally all the time when I'm out and about. Now, the truth is that I have always talked to myself about others when out and about, but for most of my life, it was rarely appreciation. I was usually finding fault, seeing what I didn't like, thinking I wouldn't do that or dress that way or whatever. I began practicing appreciating and it has paid off in a dramatic change in me. And it feels so good too.
So, by taking the tools of gratitude and appreciation to the past hurts and unfairnesses, puts them back on our own creation rather than being victimized by others. This is truly the only way to have control of our lives.
No One Else Can Hurt Me. I Am The Only One Who Can Hurt Me. But, I Choose Not Hurt.
Spread Some Joy Today--Take charge of your joy. Use the two tools of gratitude and appreciation.