Should we let the devil inside us win and be our master or choose not to give up that type of control?

An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer named Lao Tze once wrote:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.  If you are anxious, you are living in the future.  If you are at peace, you are living in the present” 

This statement has always rung true to me.

As humans, we tend to let ourselves suffer emotionally and mentally.  We focus our mental state on thoughts and memories we cannot change, because memories are all part of our past, and the past cannot be rewritten.

We often take for granted the beauty that surrounds us.  We allow ourselves to suffer and experience ongoing pain by obsessing on matters, thoughts, and feelings on what we once had or what had once happened.

There is a reason why the rear-view mirror in a car is so small while the front windshield is so large.  We are meant to focus our attention on where we are headed, not where we have been. 

Our past is still of great importance, please do not misunderstand me.  Our life’s journey presents many blessings and lessons along the way.  The lessons are what I would like to dive into deeper with you.

What I am about to share may not be fact to any one person.  It simply is my truth as I share my thoughts and opinions driven from my life’s story and experiences.  

Our lessons in life can be puzzling, frustrating, shocking or life changing.  Our lessons usually fill us up with feelings of anger, sadness, depression, and resentment.  We have all at one time or another, experienced these feelings, no matter how big or small of a presence.  What we do with those feelings is the difference between giving up all control or regaining control.

Memories are within us to make us wiser. What has already happened is not part of life today.  Good memories are meant to help us to re-enact joyful moments and put a smile on our face, while negative memories help us learn and serve a purpose to help protect us from it reoccurring.

Forgiveness is not for the other person that hurt you.  Forgiveness is for YOU because what we focus on becomes our reality.

Forgiveness is the deliberate decision to acknowledge your negative feelings and then letting them go and filling yourself up with the gift of peace.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning or excusing a particular behaviour or action.  It simply means not allowing ourselves to suffer over something that no longer exists.

So, do we become wise or wounded?

There is a great analogy I once heard that I want to share.

There was a university professor who addressed his class by holding up a glass of water.  All the students assumed he was going to ask the question of whether the glass was half empty or half full.  Instead, he asked the question: “How heavy is this glass of water?”.  Varying answers were shared from 8oz to 12oz.  Then he asked: “what would happen if I held this glass up for 30 seconds, how heavy would it be then?”  The students looked puzzled.  He proceeded to ask:  “How about if I held the glass up for one minute?”.  The students all agreed that his arm would feel tired.  The professor then asked:  “What about five minutes?  And how about one hour?”

The professor then began to explain that it was never about how heavy the glass was or how much water was inside it.  What mattered was how long he held onto it.  

The moral of the story is, very much like this glass of water, the longer we hold onto our troubles, the more heavily they weigh on us and before we know it, it could cripple or paralyze us emotionally and mentally.

When you go on a trip, one of the first things you do when you get back home is unpack your luggage and put your things away.  Often you may wash your clothes and perhaps even wipe down your belongings.  Have you ever gone on a trip and come back to leave your luggage unpacked for decades at a time?  So why do that with our minds?

Of course, you should acknowledge the pain, your feelings are important. The key is to unpack it, clean it up and put it away.  Not to hold onto it.  PUT THE GLASS DOWN!!!

Forgiveness is not releasing someone from the accountability of their actions.  It is about setting yourself free from the imprisonment of your memories which you have chosen to acknowledge, taken away the lesson to be learnt and then letting go of the future pain and suffering so you can live in a beautiful state.

We ALL have this choice.

Often, we carry around unwanted memories because deep down, we take some blame or guilt of what happened.  Do not punish mistakes.  Not our own and not those of others.  We are human and we are not perfect.  We need to give us this grace.

You may need to find the compassion within you to forgive yourself first before you can extend forgiveness to others.  Sometimes self-forgiveness can instill a feeling of emotional release and freedom.

A meditation exercise can help begin this journey of forgiveness.

-Leslie Carrafiello