Recently I wrote an article for an on-line magazine for its spirituality section. Although the piece was about forgiveness and love, the editor wanted to put my photo in front of the word hate to accompany the article. After much discussion and protest on my part the photo was changed, but he did so begrudgingly.
One very huge thing bothered me about this that eluded the other party. I know every photo put on the internet stays on the internet forever. The photo of me smiling with the word hate behind me would have gone out onto the internet without the accompanying article and would have stood alone without explanation. People Googling my name would see photos of me and there would be my smiling face with the big word HATE behind me.
You may not remember, but I do, the negative impact a standalone photo had on a very young Jane Fonda when she held up a rifle in Vietnam during the war. A photo was snapped of her smiling face holding the rifle and to this day she is still thought by some a traitor. And this was way before the internet.
To lead with our heart we use that wisdom and put ourselves in the position of others to determine, the best we can, how what we say and do will impact them. We take time to determine the possible consequences of our actions before we act. And, we stand up and defend ourselves against those people who do not have the heart-awareness to be the higher, more loving and positive way of being.
Today, take time to evaluate what you put out on the internet. Not from fear, but simply from the perspective of knowing it will be around forever. Make certain you are proud of what you are saying and doing. And, make sure you are not allowing other people to have control over the image you are leaving in the world.
Someone is angry with me and yet he has, so far, not had the courage to tell me why. Apparently something I did, that I am unaware of, made him mad. I’ve reached out asking for an explanation, for him to tell me what he thinks I did. I am willing to listen. And I am willing to peacefully and respectfully talk through the situation so we can reach a point where we both feel comfortable again. But I am not being given the chance.
Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect. But both parties must respect themselves enough to want to deal with the negative that sometimes arises in relationship. When one person in the relationship is unwilling to honestly address issues he or she has, then the other person is left helpless to do anything to help resolve the discourse.
It is not easy being blamed for something that you are unaware of you did. But when you have asked, when you are willing to do whatever it takes to heal the relationship, and you meet silence the only choice you have is to let go. Have faith the truth will come out. When it does you can make amends if you have indeed wronged someone. Until then remember that you are showing your true nature by wanting to resolve the issue. And, the true nature of the other person is being revealed too.
I saw on the news about a high school basketball team who got together and agreed to turn over the ball to the opposing team so that one of the players could try and shoot a basket. The young man was mentally challenged and was put into the last game of the year by the coach.
I will never forget the roar of the crowd when the rival team gave the ball to the boy and he took the shot and miraculously made the basket. The stands emptied. The love in that high school gym was immense. And all who witnessed that game learned the truth of this.
We often hear that we are supposed to forgive and forget. While I do appreciate the benefits of forgiving as a way to cease feeling resentment against those who hurt us, I do not believe it is possible or healthy to try and forget. The memories may continue for the rest of your life but that does not mean you must continue to give them power.
At 57 I still remember hurtful things from over 50 years ago. Yet by forgiving (releasing the bitterness and anger for what I think should have been different and how other people should have known better) I am no longer emotionally attached to the memories that occasionally surface. When a memory does come into my consciousness, instead of allowing myself to relive the hurt, anger and pain, I remind myself, “I have forgiven you. You no longer have power over me in this moment.” Then I shift my attention to something else. I do not allow myself to remain in the past. I do not allow myself to wallow in what was back then, and ruin what is real now, in the present.
This week remember that forgiveness is an ongoing, life-long process. Releasing our resentment does not mean we condone what happened or discharge those who hurt us from the karmic liability they have for their actions. Forgiveness is the action of intentionally moving ourselves beyond the resentment and anger so the memories no longer hurt our present.
I smoked cigarettes for twenty-two years. I disposed of the vast majority of my cigarette butts irresponsibly; on the sidewalk, in the street, etc. When I was downsized from an executive position right before 9/11 the only work I could find was picking up trash and cigarette butts before a lawn mowing crew. I was grateful for the job and figured it was a way to make amends for my former unconsciousness.
Each of my actions, no matter how large or small, has a consequence and returns to me. So today I do my very best to make certain I do not mind getting back the returning effects of the behavior I put out.