I originally wrote this in April 2020, but as we enter into another tumultuous time, that’s even more divisive than I could have ever imagined at the time of writing this, I feel it’s an appropriate reminder to all of us — especially right now.
In a time that is like no other we’ve experienced, we may be seeing parts of ourselves we’d rather not see, or things in others we’d rather forget. All of us are affected by an experience that is potentially taking away our freedoms, livelihoods, relationships and social networks as well as our sense of purpose and stability in the world.
I have experienced multiple events that have turned my life upside down. Over the last decade I lost my parents, had a child, ended a marriage, lost money on an investment, experienced love and the trauma of heartbreak, felt devastated by lost friendships and everything in between. Through all these events I felt very alone as my world unraveled, but in many ways I also unraveled my sense of self and gained an understanding that no matter what happens, I have it within me to make it through difficulties.
What I now realize is that the world was still moving during these events; I could reach out and pull myself back onto the ‘Ferris wheel of life’. Now there is nothing to grab onto. We’re all watching life as we know it fall apart and we can’t just jump back on when we feel ready because the world has slowed to a near stop. The way we lived no longer exists.
As my own world came to a screeching halt I could see immediately how this event would impact my own world and the greater world, not only in economics but in our human rights as we’ve known them. I could see how this would impact our global mental health; I could imagine the unknown of how this could create a new world.
I’ve been sad, depressed, reactive, entitled and scared. I’ve watched in horror as people I respect say things that made my jaw drop. I’ve felt myself fight for the right to have an opinion in a world that seems to want to muzzle all opinions. Yet I continue to see people judge, criticize and discipline others on social media. They believe that being judgemental is a righteous way of having a voice; dismantling others’ ideas, recreation choices or beliefs makes them feel powerful and entitled to be cruel and shame others.
What if we could use this time to be kinder and more open-minded than ever before? What if instead of feeling like you must police others, appose others’ ideas or be critical of others you stopped and took a moment to think about why you feel called to behave that way? What if you understood that everyone is doing the best they can and your job is to manage your own anxiety, pain, stress and trauma? What if, instead of projecting your struggles onto others, you were to focus on healing your own wounds?
What if this is the time to own your life and your inner challenges instead of indulging in believing you are better than someone else? What if your truth has nothing to do with that’s happening on the news? What if you tune into your own inner frequencies and learn to get calmer instead of angrier? What if your sorrow is begging you to forgive your own misgivings and your own miss-steps and to not worry about what other people are doing? What if you are being called to be a leader of love, compassion and understanding? What if you’re destined for great things in your community but you’re being seduced by a need for control?
What if the only person you need to forgive is yourself? No one else. With your own forgiveness you can find a softness like you’ve never experienced. In order to find that softness you have to go into the flames of your anger, resentment and frustration. Instead of pushing those feelings aside and trying to be kinder, your own evolution depends on your willingness to feel and process your pain, in whatever format it’s presenting. The deeper you allow yourself into the dark places within, the more grace you can bring and share when you emerge. Find ways to be to be grateful for who you have already become and nurture the parts of you that are growing and evolving.
Your ability to forgive yourself is the medicine we all need for the future. If we earnestly request our own forgiveness, we may be able to lift up our communities as the supportive, gentle and open-minded people that our world desperately needs. Less power over someone else and more unity by acknowledging and celebrating our differences. Instead of trying to make everyone else wrong for not seeing the world you do. Maybe you’ll be able to see how your willingness to face your own pain and suffering could bring an unimaginable amount of relief to the greater world.
All I know is that hurt people hurt people. If we’re all going to emerge without being at war with each other, we’re going to have to be brave enough to allow for our own faults and failures so we can find grace in ourselves and others.