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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gifts That Matter: Forgiveness

“When you know better, you do better.” 
~ Maya Angelou

When Josh was born I did not have what it took to be a good mother to any child, let alone a child with disabilities. I was self-centered, egotistical, inadequate and walking through life unconsciously. I made mistake after mistake with him. I scolded him thinking it would motivate him, but it only made things worse. I had stories in my head about his future and how he might be treated if he did not learn certain skills. Honestly, there were times when I was overwhelmed and angry with our situation. I was drowning in negativity exposing him and everyone around me to it. It impacted his life in a profound way, in that I made the decision not to have another child because I was in such a negative place. I feared I would favor him over another child, or another child over him. Because of my thinking, he will never have a sibling to watch after him when I am gone. 

My little Santa, Christmas 1989

Always wanting the best for him, I had the best of intentions, but parenting him in negativity all those years is something I have to forgive myself for. I can honestly say I did my best, but now I know better and must do better, consciously. In the opening quote, Maya Angelou is not speaking of knowing right from wrong. Sometimes my reactions to events and situations felt wrong, but my mentality, my ego and the stories I came up with justified my behavior. There may times in your life when you know the right thing to do, but you choose wrong because of your emotions. We all have done it.

Maya Angelou is speaking of consciousness; being aware of our true self as opposed to our false self – the ego. Once I learned about the ego’s control, my attitude and my behavior changed. I no longer allow the stories to control my actions. I know I have a choice to stop the stories and to choose my reactions. I know that my reactions create my world and that what I do affects Joshua and both of our futures in ways I can’t imagine. Now I choose, consciously, every word and every action where he is concerned. I know my stories are not true and I know that things are exactly as they should be. I now have compassion for the unconscious person I used to be and I forgive myself.

It is this quote that made me understand forgiveness:

“Even if blame seems justified, as long as you blame others you remain trapped in your ego. There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human consciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.” 
~ Eckhart Tolle

The gift of forgiveness will change your life if you understand the truth of what it means to forgive. True forgiveness is not what we typically think. It is not about letting the person off the hook. It is not about what they did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say that hurt you. It is not about letting them into your life to hurt you again. It is not about acting like what they did was okay.

It is about understanding why they did what they did – not in a details sense because the details don’t matter. It is about understanding their humanness, their egotistical ways, and realizing that we all behave in the same way – in varying degrees, of course – but the bottom line is that we have all been stuck in our ego at some point. It is about understanding that what they did has nothing to do with you. Yes, you read that correctly – IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. It only feels like it’s about you, but it’s not.

Think about it this way: When you take an action, who is taking the action? (That would be you.) Who is making the choice to take the action? (You again!) Where does the choice come from? (Your own mind.) What do you tell yourself to justify the action? It is your story, not the other person’s story. You can blame them all you want, but it comes from your own mind, your own story. It is the same for everyone else. You have no control of their actions, which is why it has nothing to do with you, and they have no control of your actions, which is why your actions have nothing to do with them. Knowing this, understanding this is the key to forgiving anything.

“Good men melt with compassion even for one who has wrought them harm.” ~ Buddhism

The Buddhists know that when someone brings harm upon them, that person is suffering. People don’t cause harm when they are happy. People only cause harm when they are hurting. You can forgive when you can see the humanity and the pain in the wrong-doer. Recognizing the humanity, the ego that is in them and you, you will understand there is really nothing to forgive. That is grace.

The gift of forgiveness does not mean you have to keep someone in your life. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. They don’t have to know you have forgiven them. Forgiveness is not about trying to convince yourself that what they did or said was okay because it was not okay and never will be okay. It is not about letting go of revenge. Karma will handle it. Forgiveness is about accepting that it happened and releasing your negativity, your anger, your bitterness so that you can feel better. It is a gift you give to yourself, to your family and to humanity. Your actions will now come from a positive, compassionate place rather than a negative place. Forgiveness for someone who has wronged you will lift a burden from you and those around you. The truth is when you don’t forgive you are the one you are hurting, not the other person.

The Buddhists have another saying ~ 
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

That saying needs no further explanation.

Love to you all and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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