Mar 16, 2011


Lately I've been reading about forgiveness...and the mirror concept is here too. What I notice in someone else is often a reflection of what is also a part of me. 

When I feel disgust, anger, disappointment or even rage at another person's behaviour, I take this as a nudge to look inside and see what in myself I am reacting to. What am I possibly denying exists in myself? What might I need to forgive in me?  It's been hard but I have to admit it also resonates deeply.

Think back to a situation (could be a movie scene) where someone is being bullied. Which of the behaviours do you most react to:  the person who is not standing up for themselves or the bullying behaviour of the person yelling at the other?  Would the bystander who you perceive as turning a blind eye or the one who steps in be more likely to trigger a response in you?

You will likely say 'it depends'. OK, notice what it depends on too. Is it the age, status, gender, ability of the people involved...the time of day, the context of the situation or even whether you are privy to that or not. It's still information for you.

I've always had a sense that forgiveness starts with forgiving myself. Not sure if that's something I learned or just felt intuitively. What I'm reading now* is giving me some words and concepts to understand why that might be. Acknowledging, accepting and seeking support to forgive myself begins the process of healing and releasing its negative hold on me. When we forgive ourselves, when we offer ourselves compassion, a sense of peace is often the outcome. I have no need to forgive the other anymore...there is simply compassion for us all as we try to live our lives as best we can.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning behaviour that is disrespectful, illegal or unethical or down right mean. Boundaries still need to be set. We each need to find our own response to any situation.  That response when from a place of compassion holds more hope for our world than when not. 

Try it. Try forgiving yourself something and see if compassion towards yourself extends to the person or persons that trigger that response.  Perhaps the peace you feel will inspire a book or a song or the creation of a piece of art...or a creative approach to a challenging situation.

Speaking of creative inspiration, let's remember too that the mirror reflects things we appreciate and love in others as well. That voice, smile, strength, way of seeing ... that's in you too ... ready to be embraced, enjoyed and expressed.

* "The Findhorn Book of Forgiveness" by Michael Dawson; Findhorn Press, Scotland, UK. 2003

Mar 10, 2011

turning point stories

The other day I gave a team I was working with the exercise of bringing in an artifact that represented a turning point in their life. I thought that would be a good warm up to our discussion on our response to change.

On the day of the retreat just about each person said how they struggled with this exercise - even the person who had helped design the theme. That surprised me. Some said it was hard to find the object to represent the story they would tell. Some struggled with which turning point to speak about. Others felt they had none to speak of. 

My guess is that sharing a story that was important to us was what was scary.  It's not always easy to reveal ourselves to others, especially something that touches at our core. Makes us vulnerable.

That morning, while the snow kept on falling outside, each person decided to take a leap of faith and told their story of change to their colleagues. With each story a new channel was opened with each person in the room. You could feel the appreciation, the respect and the warmth begin to swirl through the air as strengths and values and incredible courage shined through. 

No one had to go that deep. No one had to do the exercise at all if they preferred not to. But everyone found the inner resources to do so, each in their own way.

I'm curious as to whether the exercise, introduced with words like 'artifact' and 'turning point' was what led to such deep stories? Perhaps if I'd asked for 'objects that symbolize a change in your life,  equally interesting but perhaps more superficial or guarded stories would have come out. Who knows?

My hunch is that this particular group was ready, no matter what way I introduced the exercise, to tell these stories, to reveal themselves...and to be heard.  I also suspect that the pre-work we did leading up to the day helped create the readiness, the initial safety for such candidness to occur.

If anyone from that team are reading this, I'd love to get your perspective. And anyone else's too.