Woman to Women
Let go to move on
By: Michele Woodward
“Forgiveness is when the hurt you’ve suffered no longer drives your decision-making nor defines who you are.”
Believe me, I’ve returned to those words time and again. And recently I came to see that people who are stuck are often unwilling or unable to let go of the hurt they’ve suffered. Somehow the hurt defines them in a way that feels, oddly enough, comfortable.
It’s the woman who will tell you with great bitterness how unfairly her ex-husband treated her. How he screwed her out of money. How he turned the children against her. How he cheated on her and then walked away scot-free. The jerk. “When did this happen?” you might ask, and then be shocked to find out that it was 30 years ago.
It’s when your friend starts to complain once again about how intolerable her workplace is. What a psycho her boss is. How brown-nosing her officemates are. How favorites get recognized but hard work is never rewarded. How she has no energy and barely drags herself to work every day. You’ve heard the same complaints over and over for the past five years.
Being stuck – feeling powerless to change, not knowing what to do, fuzzy thinking – happens to all of us at one time or another. We have a problem and can’t seem to find a way out.
Why is that?
“We’re ‘story fondling,’ says my friend Martha Beck, whose column appears in O magazine every month. We love our story. We absolutely adore it. We hold it close, as if it were a tiny baby needing our tender, loving care.
But when we story fondle, we allow our problem to define us and shape our decision-making.
Which is the opposite of forgiveness.
And only prolongs the pain.
The only way forward, as you may have heard, is through it. To get unstuck once and for all, you have to stop focusing on the problem and start focusing on the solution.
Sure, sometimes we fondle our problem in an attempt to understand it. And that’s important – understanding the pain can help us craft a solution that works. But 30 years of fondling? Excessive. That’s 30 years of living life in pain and on hold.
What you’ve got for sure is today. Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow is not promised. Laying the problem aside and living right here, right now, focused on solutions – that’s the key to arriving at the most powerful point of forgiveness: self-forgiveness. And that’s the path toward a vibrant life worth living.