In most of my coaching sessions the past always creeps into the conversations. It is where the lessons were learned, the damage was done, the support and love was felt, and where the triumphs of an earlier day were won. For most people the victories get overshadowed by the pain. For most of us the things that come easily to mind are not our brilliant moments, the ones where we surprised even ourselves with our achievements. The most prominent memories are the pain filled moments where we were cut down to size and humbled beyond recognition.
When these life changing moments creep into the conversation, there is an opportunity to reflect and heal. Which is only done by opening the door to forgiveness. We must forgive ourselves for our mistakes AND more importantly forgive the person who battered us beyond recognition. This quote reminds us that we are a prisoner of our own thoughts, the ones that gnaw away at our confidence and self belief, and to kill those thoughts we must stop giving them head space. They need to disappear which only comes with forgiveness and a lack of oxygen.
Stop telling those bad stories, the awful situations, the horrible failures. Stop sharing with people “what they said” or how they treated you. Stop sharing your painful memories and eventually they fade into obscurity. I learned long ago that by not giving the bad stuff head space, air time, or even a glimmer of attention they get stuck in the dark corners of my mind and fail to pop up when the moment arises. I then have the choice to bring them out as a lesson learned or to share with someone else going through the same thing, using them for good and not as evil reminders. I take way their power to harm and have transformed them into a positive way to spare someone else that same nightmare.
I will say, forgiveness doesn’t come easy. It takes practice and consistency. When the group starts sharing their horror stories, don’t do it, don’t bring them back to light! Keep them helpless and dying in the corners of your mind. ONLY bring them out when they serve a positive purpose, when you can control your reactions, and when you have the power to control them not the other way around. Think of these horrible memories as deflated balloons that should never be inflated to full size again. Hold them up and realize how pathetic they are without air, that is when you win. You have grown, and you have been able to forgive to the point where that pathetic tattered ballon is just another object stored in those dusty trucks in our mind’s attic. The trunks that eventually never get opened and are given away and forgotten.
THAT is when forgiveness is a gift to yourself and those who are in your life. When done right, forgiveness allows you to eventually open those trunks and see all those pitiful, empty balloons and they mean nothing. They are just memories like every other memory, they no longer have power, and they no longer sting. So they get thrown away to be replaced by bright, shiny, new and wonderful stories you want to tell when people ask.
It’s time, time to set that prisoner free…and yes, that prisoner is you!