Forgive, forget, or both?

The holiday season is upon us once again. A time of rushing around, stressing out about family get-togethers, shopping, end-of-year bonuses (will they or won't they?) and...oh yeah, the peace and love and joy that we find so hard to remember amidst all the chaos.

I'll be the first to admit that I do find it hard to be happy around the holidays. Generally speaking I think I'm a pretty happy and optimistic person — I believe that happiness is a choice; a cause rather than an effect — but, well, when people around you are unhappy, it's really hard to always maintain the smile on your face. It starts to feel exhausting. It starts to feel fake.

I go through all of the requisite steps to try to determine what I should do or say or what I should have done or said. I think about it, pray about it, sleep on it. I'd love to see things change and move forward, but I just don't have the answers. When I ask these questions in my head, or to a higher power, usually the answer I think I hear is Do Nothing. Close your eyes and rest. Nothing. Don't do anything. Which is SO against my nature.

Then I start wondering, What does "Do nothing" mean? Don't say anything? Don't keep the arguments going? Don't speak, like, give the cold shoulder? That can't be right.

Maybe it means I just need to look inside to find that peace. Get quiet. Literally, do nothing. Erase all thoughts, meditate, sleep.

Sounds like a luxury with a teething 6-month-old and a very clingy 2-year-old.

So isn't there some sort of passive karmic action I can take? I thought praying for people was enough? Do I also have to wish them love and light, even when all I want to do is yell, fight or get back at someone? Do I really have to...forgive?

The problem there is that when I think about forgiveness it's usually myself I find I haven't forgiven. I'll forgive so-and-so for forgetting my birthday, forgive this guy for not living up to my expectations, forgive her for letting me down. It's me I blame for X choice I made, not saying Y, somehow always ending up with Z problem because of how I've handled things. Trust me, I think about this a lot, and what I most often find is that while I know "everything happens for a reason," I always feel like I'm still waiting to learn the big lesson. Waiting for that a-ha moment. Expecting something to click — about how to deal, what to eat, who I am, heavy and light stuff alike.

I did finally realize one time that I don't think it's forgiveness I want from the people I think I've hurt or treated badly or haven't served well in the past (although that would be nice); what I really wish is for what I did to just never have happened.

And we all know that's impossible. I can envision other situations and life paths all I want, but it's torture. What's that saying, the quickest way out of something is through it? Sure doesn't feel quick to me.

So while we're here, this year, in the season of such dramatically juxtaposed emotional states — feeling, again, like I alluded to yesterday, that we should be calm, peaceful, joyous and happy but we're maybe not quite there yet, maybe feeling a little bit like a phony — I think, again, the only way you can handle it is to go inside. Don't avoid the feeling; ask yourself what thoughts you're thinking that have caused you to feel that way. Have a conversation with an objective outside observer, even if they're literally just repeating back to you what you're saying. Or make a half-hour phone appointment with a life coach, who does this for a living — gets you to step outside of yourself for a moment to realize what kooky things are going on in your head and what small changes you can make toward progress.

The holidays are tough. We all want that picture-perfect Norman Rockwell scene, and usually it ends up looking more like a sad combination of Parenthood, Saturday Night Live and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Don't use food to feed your fears. Instead, outwardly, at least, do nothing. And on the inside, turn off your thoughts as often as possible, say a little prayer for peace and forgive. Your mom, your best friend, your fourth-grade teacher, yourself. We all know we're not perfect, but we often say that too defensively instead of softly and purposefully. This season can be a time of peace and love, but it all starts with you. Find that split second when you can catch your breath and be grateful for all that you DO have, and maybe, just maybe, by doing nothing at all this time, next time that little voice tells you to act you'll actually be able to hear it and move according to plan.

Feel that?

That's a deep sigh of relief.

Aaahhhhh.

Filed under: Chasing peace

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