I am a firm believer that mind, emotions and spirit are just as important to one's health as how we treat our bodies.
With that in mind, I have been continually striving to improve myself through prayer, meditation and trying to change my thinking patterns for years. It's really hard work, and it's a long, slow process, especially for a person like me.
I think I was born hard-wired to feel guilt and shame, and I can't deny that my upbringing contributed to that as well. I've often joked that if I were to take a lie-detector test and I was asked if I was the person who shot Lincoln, I would of course truthfully say no but fail the test. Even though I'm joking, there is a lot of truth to that. I've always readily taken on guilt.
I've spoken before about forgiveness, and I've come such a long way in that department. I've managed to forgive pretty much everyone for what I perceive to have been transgressions against me. That doesn't always mean calling up these people whom I may not have seen for years, and it doesn't mean that I believe that their behaviour was okay, but it does mean releasing the hurt, the anger, and the grudge.
What is the hardest for me is learning to forgive myself. Like so many other women, I am extremely hard on myself. Unlike many people though, I have a memory like an elephant and often late at night I remember things from the past, and have many times felt guilt over an unkind word or act that I may have made at the age of three.
However, in the last few years I have made some real strides in that area. I still have a long way to go, but I have finally been able to forgive myself for so many things that have haunted me for years, even some of the biggies.
The real eye-opener for me is that once I have forgiven myself, I release the regret, and that's given way to something new.
I'm finally, finally learning to transform my sense of regret to a realization of seeing those mistakes as learning experiences. I have started to see that I really did learn valuable lessons from many of those mistakes and those lessons have contributed to making me the person that I am today. I am not saying that I have this down pat, but I'm well on my way.
For years I thought that I had no real gifts. Yes, I was good in school, but that ended up going nowhere. I can't play a musical instrument, I can't sing, and I have no artistic abilities. I truly felt that I had nothing to offer the world.
I now realize though that I do have some gifts. They may not be tangible, but they are gifts that have helped me to be a better mother and perhaps a better person. I have compassion, empathy and optimism, and it's only recently that I've realized that not everyone possesses those qualities. They really are gifts! I now know that it was through the life lessons that I learned through trial and often error, that I was able to improve upon and to solidify these qualities.
It's hard for me to write what I wrote above, because it feels strange to "talk myself up", but I think that putting that in black and white shows that I really have made some changes in my thinking. Five years ago, I couldn't have made those statements to myself, let alone to family, friends, or now to whomever may read this.
I hope that five years from now, I have come even further in reclaiming my mind and emotions and strengthening my spirit. One thing I do know for sure is that as long as there is breath in my body, I will never give up.
'Til tomorrow. Love to all, and extra hugs to anyone feeling lonely today.