And not just romantic attachment either. That’s rough, but it’s not the only type of relationship that can keep us snagged. Holding on to grudges is way too easy. (Secretly) Blaming someone else for our own shortcomings is way too easy. And it doesn’t hurt the other person. I want to talk about the shift in mindset that must happen for you to forget about these hurts and mentally move yourself on to the work and people you know in your heart are more important.
So it’s the story of Chris. Chris is a middle-aged man who had a difficult childhood, involving many of the common frustrations many of us have with our parents, and some more troubles only few of us ever have to face.
Most notably, his father taking his own life when he (Chris) was only a teen.
Chris blamed his father for a lot of his own short-comings in life from there on out. A failed relationship? His father’s fault. Difficulty in school? Also his father’s fault. Indecision about his future? Well, what do you expect from someone who had no father to guide him.
The blame game
Before long Chris realized he could gain sympathy by telling this story. So he did. He told told the story of his rough childhood to anyone who would listen, and whenever it could be relevant to a discussion. Until one day he met a 17 year old girl named Anne.
Anne listened to his story, but unlike other people Chris had told this story to, Anne wasn’t buying it.
She listened, as Chris described how loosing his father at such an early age made him feel, the many ways in which it had impacted this life.
He also told her about the dreams. Indeed, Chris was still having dreams that echoed his feelings towards his father. His father would appear to him, and disappear before Chris could reach him.
Anne listened. And then said: “Your father is dead right? So, these things going on in your life, he’s not responsible for them. They’re you’re dreams, it’s your life.. right? What would you even say to him if you could reach him?”
Chris said: “I’d tell him all the things he did wrong. All the ways in which he hurt mom and I.”
Anne responded: “That’s interesting, yet you won’t allow yourself to reach him in your dreams. Maybe it’s because at some level, you don’t want to add to his pain..”
Chris was taken aback back this response. He had never thought of it that way. Chris had never tried to see how life could have been difficult for his father, and how his father’s circumstances had motivated his decisions. Chris had only considered these decisions had made his own life more difficult.
It’s an interesting story I think, a true one too by the way.
The reason I wanted to share this story is because I feel that it could speak to a lot of people. My past is nowhere near as dark as Chris’. Far from it. But it’s easy to see where the lessons are.
How many people do you hold accountable for your own short-comings in life?
It’s an interesting question.
And it’ll be even more powerful for those of us who, like Chris, had not yet considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, this “person” had issues of their own that they were dealing with at the time.
That maybe, [insert someone you hold a grudge against] was troubled, or simply did not know better, than to do what was done.
And I know you might be thinking: ” Wouldn’t I be giving these people a pass for their appalling behavior? ”
People asked that question of Chris after the Anne incident. He didn’t flinch, and his reply was (in my opinion) packed with wisdom:
” No, I just stopped giving myself a pass. ”
It’s way easier to say: “I couldn’t do this because of him/her” than to admit defeat. That’s just what it is. The grudges, a lot of us use as crutches, to not face certain truths about ourselves and the conditions we find ourselves in.
And maybe this person did mess up. So, you should stay stuck in a mental loop until they come back and say they’re sorry? That’s what you’re expecting? How does that change what happened?
“Sorry” might make you feel better but it doesn’t change anything.
Even when you do get it. (And you’d be lucky to hear that word)
I remember one night discussing choices with my sister. We were talking about how, really in the end, our personal choices really only affect.. ourselves.
What you choose to do with your life might be influenced by somebody else but, unless this person lives with you, you’re the only person these choices will affect in the long run.
You’re the one who’s going to have to deal with the consequences. Not the person who influenced you. When all is said and done, and you’re left to appreciate the quality and richness of your life, it’ll be yours. Not theirs.
The conclusion we reached that night is that, in most cases (outside extenuating circumstances), dreams should be chased, and “advice” carefully weighed.
My point is this: Whatever ever [guilty person] did to you does not affect them today.
Right now [guilty person] is probably shacking up with somebody else, or hoping you take their advice, or moving on in whatever way is most relevant to the situation.
That grudge. It’s really only affecting you. And that’s why it’s important to be mindful of what’s on your heart.
The heaviness, it hurts, and it can be lifted, but something has to start happening in your mind first. You’ve got to start taking responsibility for the future, and being proactive in the pursuit of that future.
It’s your future.
The most important thing is to let the experience grow you. Mentally, spiritually. Growth is the solid foundation from which you will start getting up, doing things, working, studying, making moves, meeting other people, all these good things.
You acknowledge the act, take a step back, do whatever you have to do to regroup (mentally) and gather your strength (spiritually), and then you BURST out into life again, in a way that truly honors your heart.
That’s how you get over the bumps and humps in life. That’s true grit, and no one person, or event, can stop true grit.
The mind comes first though. Healthy mind, healthy body, healthy relationships, healthy situation, healthy life.
In that order too.