Writing this post has challenged me immensely. The original draft was full of backstory so that you could really feel my suffering. My intent was for you to feel inspired by how I was able to forgive, despite what I went through. It was one of those If-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it things.
That version never sat well with me.
So, the backstory is that I went from loving life in one instant to being overwhelmed by despair in the next. I was at risk of losing what was most dear to me in this world, and I felt powerless to stop it. It was hell.
To say I felt wronged is a gross understatement. I resented the lies, bitterness, and entitlement. I resented my world being flipped upside down the way it was. I was under enormous stress and was reaching my breaking point.
My experience has been that with despair comes the opportunity for profound personal transformation (more on that here). But while living in the midst of hell, hidden opportunities can be damn near impossible to see or accept.
Nonetheless, working with a mentor for seven years had given me the tools I needed to respond in a manner that was aligned with the woman I wanted to be. And that woman was compassionate. Her highest ideal was love.
I began to meditate as though my life depended on it. I meditated on feeling true compassion and love for the person I resented. And, I meditated on “seeing” this person’s highest self – who he truly was deep down inside.
I sent all of the love and light I could muster to him. I visualized embracing him. I even visualized the entire collective love and light of the world embracing him. It was truly beautiful.
While I doubt that this person ever felt my love and light, the effect that this compassion-centered meditation practice had on me was miraculous.
I stopped feeling fear and grew stronger. The despair dissipated as I responded to him from a place of compassion and integrity. Ultimately, I forgave him. And, in the process of it all, I found it easier to set firm boundaries with him.
Of course, there were times when I failed to be a shining beacon of light and regressed back to living in a fear state. Nonetheless, this practice made it easier to return to a place that was centered around compassion, love, and forgiveness.
Transforming what I believed to have been an enormous injustice into an opportunity to become a more compassionate woman was a gift. So were the opportunities to not resent another person under such trying circumstances, set boundaries, and be the woman I strove to be.
However, the greatest gift was that it shifted my whole paradigm. I learned first hand the power of meditation and the serenity that comes from desiring the same things for my “adversaries” as I desired for myself.
If you desire to forgive and or otherwise cultivate compassion towards your “spiritual sandpaper,” turning inward, reflecting before responding, meditating, and refraining from needing to “be right” are essential actions (at least they are for me).
Here is my method for engaging with challenging people from a place of compassion and love:
- Act with impeccable integrity, no matter what anyone else does.
- Ask yourself who do you want to be, and then pray to the Universe, God, your intuition, or whatever resonates with you to help you be that person.
- Don’t react when presented with bait. Only respond if you must.
- Reject the need to be right with the statement (spoken or thought) “You could be right,” which, for the record, does not imply that you think they actually are right.
- Meditate on compassion for this person. Really “see” your spiritual sandpaper as a whole person who has fears and desires that are as legit as your own, and wish this person to be happy, joyous, and free from all suffering.
Keep in mind that living from a place of compassion is generally about feeling true empathy for another and responding from this place of empathy. The object of your compassion may never recognize your actions as compassionate or empathetic, and that is perfectly fine. Be at peace with this.
You can view or download the transcript of the guided meditation here.
As long as we see ourselves as victims of our lives – as long as I saw myself a victim of the shitty things that were happening to me – I was powerless to change my world.
The person I resented has his own side of this story and it’s as legit as mine.
At the time, I thought that he was making my life a living hell. But in reality, only I had the power to do that via my focus – my thoughts, feelings, and responses to my circumstances.
It was my perception of reality that needed to change in order to ditch the despair I felt. In order to do this, I needed to forgive him. For me.