Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Write2Forgive, Write2Release

Big confession: I didn't like the last exercise. Instead of honoring my morning writing time, I put off journaling until later in the day. I didn't want to start my day by delving into difficult past experiences. I'd procrastinate until the last possible minute. When I did get to writing, I'd turn on the television to keep me company. Not something I'd recommend! It's too distracting. But that was the point—I wanted a distraction. I didn't want to give my full attention to writing about the past. Oh, I'll revisit the icky stuff in my mind—sometimes multiple times a day. But I didn't want to write about it. 

Writing to make meaning of the past gives us the opportunity to let go of all that has hurt us and move on. Rehashing the same events keeps us stuck. We cannot appreciate the present or envision the future  because we're prisoners to the past. Here's how I put it in my eBook, Seven Simple Strategies for Transforming Your Life Right Now

We spend much of our precious present mulling over what should of, could have, would have been if only we had or she had or he had done whatever. It should come as no surprise that people who ruminate over the past—play it like a movie in their heads day in and day out—usually feel more depressed and anxious than those who don’t.

We let go of the past when we forgive ourselves and others. We cannot say yes to today when we are burdened by the pains of our past. We need to accept—and forgive—the past. Most of us have struggled with health and relationship difficulties, encountered
work problems, and faced disappointments. Some of us have experienced great tragedy and trauma in our pasts. We all need to come to terms with our pasts—to unhitch our lives from the difficult past experiences that bind them. As novelist Gina Berriault said, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Another person defined
forgiveness as, “giving up what is rightfully ours.” When we forgive a debt, we release
the other person from paying us the money that is rightfully ours. When we forgive someone who has hurt us, we let go of our right to blame him or her. When we forgive ourselves, we let go of the regret and self-punishment that we feel we deserve.

So here's the next journaling challenge: write2forgive and write2release. Dig into the attic of your past, and clear out the frustrations, failures, and hurts. Forgive yourself and others. Here's one way to do it:

Make a list of everyone you are mad at: people, institutions, and situations. Then make a list of the failures you remind yourself of regularly. For each item on your list, write a sentence something like this:
I forgive _______ for _______. I release it.

If you cannot do this exercise for whatever reason, don't give up on journaling! Go back to one of the previous exercises. Or simply write 3 pages about anything. Julia Cameron calls this morning pages. I call it write2dump. Whatever name you give it, the purpose is the same: get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto the paper.

I'll be back in a few days with a new exercise for you. Until then: write on!

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