Most of us come to spirituality because we are ready to have a different experience in life. Perhaps we're tired of being angry or of feeling defeated, of being lonely or of yearning for something more. Whatever the details that lead us to the study of spirituality, one thing is the same for all of us. We have to let go of our old way of thinking in order to open up to a new paradigm. This is not easy, not at all. We cling to our resentments and grudges with a white-knuckled grip, and hold on to our wounds like they are the only thing that is real. It's understandable, even while we recognize that we can't move forward while standing still. We can't be healed while we insist on staying wounded. So, how can we begin to soften our attachment to old ideas? Here are a few things you can try that have worked for me:
Write it Out: Chose one situation or event that still haunts you, open up a fresh notebook and write out every accusation you can think of about that one single incident. Don't sugar coat. Don't hold back. Get it all out on paper. Use your meanest insults. Everything you've said in your head and heart goes onto that paper. Write until you are exhausted and you don't have any heat left. Something interesting happens when you write something down -- it no longer takes up so much space in your head. When you are done, burn the paper and let the smoke carry your anger and pain away.
Re-imagine: You know the painful stories of your life by heart. You've told them again and again, and you know every detail. But we can't know everything, because we only know the story from our own perspective. Try re-imagining the story from another person's perspective. What might they have been thinking or feeling? What else had happened in their day? Which of their needs were not being met? When we re-tell stories from different angles, it opens us up to the realization that all we know is our own perspective. It invites us into compassion, and allows space for a new idea.
Pray for Them: Literally all of my students hate it when I give them this assignment for homework (It's HAAAAAAAAAARD!), and yet it is amazing. Speaking an affirmative prayer for the person who has hurt us is a game changer. It's healing for them, sure, but it heals us as well. When you allow yourself to remember the spiritual truth of a person, you can no longer consider them "the other". Even if you can't see even the tiniest glimpse of God peeking out through their eyes, taking the time to know that Spirit is in there changes your heart. It opens the way for healing and helps you reconnect with your own wholeness