Tuesday, December 29, 2015


It feels to me as though we are continually force fed the notion that we must forgive others for their trespasses. It has earned a place on the list of "shoulds" in our society. Forgiveness is placed upon the pedestal as one of the most holy acts we can achieve, a state for the most virtuous among us and one that remains elusive for many.

Of course there are a myriad of issues that might require forgiveness on our part, some very minor and easy to put to rest, but it is the big ones that we wrestle with many times over. In that struggle to reach forgiveness many are left to feel a great degree of self judgment and less than the most pious among us.

As we sit in that seat of shame a bizarre thing occurs, we hold on tighter to our resentment. Why? It's pretty simple actually, because we are being denied; denied our feelings surrounding the offender and the offense. We long to be validated. The unspoken message is that a loving person would not feel anger, hurt or vengeful. I have met plenty of people who have felt all those emotions, and more; each one of them kind, compassionate and loving in their own way. When we refuse to allow another or ourselves to own those emotions deemed unkind, we actually fuse the bond to those feelings even deeper. Giving another or ourselves the time and space to give voice to the experience creates an opportunity for the process of forgiveness to begin as the emotions are allowed the opportunity to release.

Notice that I used the words "the process of forgiveness to begin". That is because forgiveness is many times not a one time act for those whoppers in our life, but is instead a series of steps we take over time as we continue to peel away the layers that keep us invested in not forgiving. You ask yourself, "Did she just say invested in not forgiving?" Yes, I think we can all relate to the common notion that by refusing to forgive another we believe we are punishing them and that is where we become invested instead. We believe that clinging to our righteous anger makes another writhe in pain and discomfort, a penance for perceived sins. The animosity permits us a false sense of power, and power is what we often feel has been taken from us in these moments of conflict.

Do you have to forgive? I would say no, you can make the choice not to forgive another. Is it a healthy choice to forgive? Probably. Because while we think we are holding another emotionally hostage with our grudge, really we are holding ourselves in an energetic prison that remains tied and bound to them and whatever situation that has come to pass. Unwittingly, we continue to give them the power. When we were three we stomped our foot and emphatically stated, "I hate you!" in our efforts to make others suffer for the pain we believe they caused. Today, all grown up, we say such things as, "I don't forgive him and he'll have to live with that." Different words in each scenario but each one is vengeful in nature and requires us to remain continually engaged on many levels with a state of hostility, day after day and sometimes, year after year.

That leads me to the next point, which I know you've heard somewhere before, forgiveness isn't for the other person. We don't offer our forgiveness so that they might feel better about themselves and what they have done, we do it so that we might feel lighter. Let's imagine our unwillingness to forgive is like the shirt you pull out of the closet that fits more snugly than the rest. You can get through the day wearing it but it's truly constricting, irritating and uncomfortable. So, you grab another shirt. This new shirt allows for more freedom of movement, is softer and doesn't feel binding in any way - that is forgiveness. When we forgive we are simply giving ourselves the permission to go about our days in greater internal comfort as we pick a new emotional ensemble to don.

Forgiveness is not always a matter of will and can not be forced by the "victim" nor the "perpetrator". Offering words of apology doesn't automatically entitle us to the golden certificate of forgiveness but instead is about personal ownership, end of story. What the receiver does or doesn't do with the apology is completely up to them, both consciously and unconsciously. It is the unconscious that often digs its heels in, holding us steadily in the state of an unforgiving mode. With time and self compassion the unconscious will make itself known and it is there that we have the freedom to heal and potentially step into forgiveness if we explore the gifts and intentions of personal awareness. Time and attention to self, not a rigid moral dogma or a denial of our pain, is what can lead us into the freedom of forgiveness for the deepest of our wounds.

It's important to examine your personal definition of forgiveness. Many of us believe that offering another forgiveness somehow exonerates them from the harm they have caused. With that belief structure we tend to cling to our sense of indignation. Personally, in those instances where I've reached a point of forgiveness for some major betrayals, I view it in the context of, "What you did is not okay but I no longer hold onto my hurt and anger towards you." It's not that I'm releasing them, instead I am releasing myself.

The act of forgiveness can be a complicated venture, but I suggest if approached with awareness of its complexity and with self compassion we might stand more fully and ever closer to our truth.

Be well and happy.

My personal journey of forgiveness via Kindle: Relentless: A Journey of Forgiveness https://smile.amazon.com/Relentless-Journey-Forgiveness-Kellie-Springer-ebook/dp/B01LQFBEWU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1473261339&sr=1-1&keywords=relentless%3A+A+Journey+of+Forgiveness

Monday, December 21, 2015

Self-Reflecting Pool

You know the spiritual truth that gets bantered about, the one that says those that we struggle with the most are often a mirror for something unhealed within ourselves? I hate that one. In my own mind the lesson plan for that truth goes something like this: They're such an ass (Roll of the eyes). I am nothing like them (Arms crossed in defense). Alright maybe one time I did something similar but that was because… (Shrug of the shoulders). But I don’t want to make this about me. Can’t we just stick with idea that there’s something wrong with them? (Whiny voice) Uncle! Okay, what is the frickin’ lesson I’m meant to learn here? (Deep sigh of resignation) And so it goes. Over and, many more times, over. Until the day we die, I’m pretty sure.

Anyone that has done some degree of personal growth knows what I’m referring to, and has heard it shared and experienced it to the ‘Nth’ degree as well. But today folks, is your lucky day because we are going to look at the opposite end of that spectrum. What lies there, you ask? I’m so glad you did because that side of things gets very little coverage in the grand scope of self-awareness.

So, it goes something like this- If all those things that drive us batty about another are truly an aspect of ourselves that is seeking resolve of some sort (e.g. My judgement of you as controlling is in fact a reflection of that in me which is the ultimate control freak.) then…the opposite is true a well. This means that in those moments when we admire a quality or action in another human, we are seeing an aspect of ourselves reflecting back. We could not recognize it in someone else if we did not first know of its existence within us.

For example, when we are deeply moved by witnessing acts of courage, compassion, acceptance, kindness, honesty and integrity we are being asked to know that all of those things are part us as well. We, you, are just as beautiful as what has been observed and felt. Isn’t that fantabulous? The universe doesn’t just offer us reflections of those kinda shitty things about our personalities and life, we are also surrounded by our glory.

This is what I ask of you: When your heart is opened or you feel inspired by a quality of someone else, stop for a moment, hell take two, and own that trait as part of your truth as well. Pause to think when you have lived and shared that same energy, no matter how brief or infrequently. Why? Because sometimes we get so caught up in trying to fix what is wrong with us, that we forget there are many spectacular things as well. This part of the lesson plan is just as necessary and important as the other extreme. Please, own your flaws but own your greatness as well.

Be well and happy. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

When Knowing Better Doesn't Make Us Feel Better

I was recently having a discussion with someone that shared that they had read many of the books published by our spiritual sages. You know the genre, authored by the likes of Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and Tony Robbins. Their teachings, and those of many others, have been studied by untold numbers on our planet. Yet there are those that have devoured their writings, including the individual I was having the conversation with, that are still struggling. Why?

It's not that their contributions offer no truth or value. It's certainly not a reflection of the populus' ability to understand the offerings or the words that have been printed upon the pages. People "get it" but continue to have a hard time "making it stick".

And so, they pick up yet another book, authored by another guru of our times; all in hopes that this will be the one to help them turn the corner as they continue to turn the pages. Again, the author's words ring true for the reader and they see the sense in what is being presented. Once more, the teachings get them so far in their desired process of growth and self discovery, only to hit the proverbial brick wall one more time.

At this phase, many begin to feel hopeless, confused and experience a profound state of frustration with themselves. "What am I doing wrong?" they wonder. The answer, nothing. It's essential to practice the gifts bestowed upon us by our spiritual leaders and guides. So, by all means, put into action the practices they recommend.

The real question to ponder is, "What's missing?" The understanding of these teachings that have been bestowed upon us is based on the use of our intellectual abilities. The missing piece for many individuals is the emotional awareness. I've witnessed over and over while supporting others on their own journeys of self discovery, that it's not about knowing something, but is instead about making the emotional connection to feeling it.

Our emotions are the kingpin to a majority of our thoughts, actions and interactions. So, when we are straining to apply a concept that we know would benefit us, it behooves us to explore what emotions are throwing up a roadblock. Once we are able to identify the emotion we can reflect on the source of the belief surrounding that feeling. That is where our work begins, and change and growth prosper.

After having some clarity on how the emotional state came to be part of our existence, we have the choice to create a healing around its origins. As the healing gains momentum, the old is gradually released, making room for the newly discovered tools we've all read about.  As you discard your old operator's manual you can create a new one with the knowledge gained through the wise souls of our world.

Just the mention of emotions tends to send people running for the hills; people become instantly overwhelmed at the prospect of exploring their feelings. It is my belief, that emotions are simply another tool available to us to utilize on our path of self-awareness. The key isn't to avoid a feeling, but instead we can welcome it, asking what it is meant to teach us.

What I suggest, is that our feelings deserve just as much consideration and attention as the words of those that have come to guide us. In learning about yourself, you may well be better equipped to apply all that you've learned from another.

Be well and happy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Consciously Uncaring

There seems to be a movement about to herald in John Wayne as an iconic symbol for the holidays. I find it shocking and not all pleasing. The mantra of those channeling the voice of the classic American cowboy is, “I don’t care who I offend…” They then follow that statement with whatever phrase or belief deemed fit to fire at the enemy, and proceed to ride off into the sunset on their high horse. Giddy up.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I’ve always envisioned the holidays as our chance at unity. The catchphrase I mentioned above does nothing but cause division. I wonder why this is necessary. The only thing I can conclude, is that it is not. There are as many beliefs and belief systems as there are people, some ever-changing and others steeped in tradition. None, to my knowledge, has been deemed more worthy than the rest. I beg of you, lay down your weapons and stop beating others over the head with your self-righteousness. It has no place during the holidays, or any day for that matter.

If you have something you want to say or wish to share, because it is an expression of you or a truth you hold, then share from your heart and not the almighty ego. You no doubt will offend someone even then, because you know it takes all kinds, but that does not give anyone of us the right to intentionally offend others. And let’s be clear, when you start a sentence off with, “I don’t care who I offend…” you have already made a decision to do just that. Is that the method with which you hope to share your message?

Not only is it offensive, but it is defensive as well. As if someone can rip your belief, and your right to hold it, out of your hands. Even if faced with another’s hostility or challenging response, we need not engage in the battle. Their disbelief cannot lessen what it is you hold dear, so lay down your guns, partner.

Having said all of that, I do believe there is a time and a place for not caring when we might raise a few hackles. But, its source is fueled by a desire to help the greater good no matter who stands in the way. A few instances that come to mind are the protection and welfare of animals, children and our Earth. If any of them are in jeopardy, then please speak your mind and be their voice. That energy seeks to heal and protect, not harm.

And of course, I need not remind you that we must never be consumed with what others might think of us and all that defines us because there will always be someone to stand in direct opposition. That is when we must call on conscious uncaring, that which stems from a place of acceptance and allowance, not animosity and defiance.

What I’ve written above falls into that category. I accept and am fully aware that some may be offended by what I shared but I am not consumed with angst and concern because all I’m really trying to say is, “For the sake of all of us, play nice.” How can you argue with that? There is no malice attached to my intentions. And if that ticks you off, the only thing that tells me is that you have no interest in being kind. 

I’ll be a team player, and call on John Wayne this holiday season to sum up what it is I’ve hoped to convey to those wielding their words as firearms, “Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim.” (From his role as Tom Doniphon in the 1962 movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.)

Be well and happy.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Doing vs. Flowing

I woke this morning the way many of us begin our days, with a to-do list. My brain began to whirl with the tasks I needed to accomplish; the arms of time constraining the flexibility which I had to reach my various goals.

Which to tackle first? Internally, I created a very clear vision of how my day would progress and the order in which my list would gradually dwindle. I envisioned my sense of accomplishment growing as I checked off one completed duty after another. I instantly met with a roadblock, I didn't want to start with that which I deemed to be priority number one on my master list. Something else on that list felt more intriguing and appealing to me.

It was then I made the decision to not listen to my inner taskmaster, but to my heart and soul instead. Tackling was not the approach I needed, off with the helmet and shoulder pads, instead I needed to allow myself to feel.

My heart's approach was a whisper in my ear, not the barking of a drill sergeant. It was through my heart that my soul gently lead me through my projects, and my day, with delight. I flowed from one thing to the next, allowing myself to feel the gentle pull of what might bring me pleasure. I sensed the ebb and flow of each undertaking. As the energy of one project gently slipped away, I permitted myself to be carried into the next.

This wasn't a rigid schedule that enslaved me, but instead an allowing of myself. I still had the same list of things I'd hoped to put to rest, and the same time constraints, but instead of controlling the process, I took the time to ask myself a question as the energy of each job began to fade; what will bring me joy now? The next step was just as important, I listened, or rather felt, the response to that question.

My mind continued to interject, full of suggestions and justifications as to what could and should be next on my agenda. Its frenetic energy was fraught with pressure. My inner voice, however, hummed peacefully in the background and had only one goal in mind, bringing me happiness; and with that came an ease and lightness.

Obviously, we all have responsibilities to attend to in our daily comings and goings. I'm not suggesting we disregard our duties, only that as we analyze our list of goals we allow our spirit to draw us to that which will bring us pleasure and a sense of connection in that instant.

Having said all that, please don't pressure yourself to now incorporate the practice into your every day right off the bat. Again, pressure plays no part in this practice. Instead, perhaps you can allow yourself to play with the approach on a weekend or during a period of time when you might have more leisure. After a period of exploration, and understanding the voice of your mind versus that of your soul, brave a new frontier and attempt to gradually add it into your work day, or at least a portion of it.

If you get a moment, let me know how this practice is working for you, but only if and when you feel that gentle tug in my direction...

Be well and happy.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Self Compassion

This term is bantered about in what seems to be every healing modality. In this very blog I touch on its extreme importance to our growth and self awareness. But as I look out into the world I see so many of us struggling with the concept over and over again. I began to wonder why self compassion remains a foreign idea to most and a poorly utilized teaching of those whose path the phrase has crossed.

Certainly the easiest answer is that we have never been taught of its significance and more often then not, have not been outwardly shown unwavering compassion from those who were most meaningful in our childhood; and on and on the pattern goes the further we look back in our history. That lead me to the next question, "Why not?"

I came to the realization that self compassion has been confused with self pity. The two truly are worlds apart. Self compassion is not comparable to a permanent seat on the ole pity pot. How so?

Well, we've all taken some time in our lives to hang out on the pity pot and so we all know the beliefs and thoughts that can be found there: "Poor me." "Why does this kinda stuff always happen to me?" "Why can't I catch a break?" "Here we go again...." "Things never work out for me." "It's not fair." As we sit perched on that hard, unyielding seat our world appears to be cast in hues of the most dull and dingy gray, while our mind sees others' lives projected in technicolor. It's a lonely place to be because very few of us have the desire or tolerance to remain too long beside another that has taken up long term residence there, the air seemingly too thick and the energy oppressive. The pity pot is like a bus stop to nowhere.

Self compassion on the other hand, asks questions as well but in contrast to self pity, it is truly looking and waiting for an answer: "What do I need?" "How can I support myself or be supported by another?" The phrases offered are meant to be comforting and validating, "Yes, this is hard right now but I will take one step at  time." When we allow ourselves to fall into the space of self compassion it is like lying supported on a bed of the softest comforters. When we look from this place we may not see all the answers but we might catch a glimpse of hope and possibilities. Interestingly, when we open our heart to ourselves we find less isolation and greater connection to the world at large, the air about us no longer a sinking abyss of darkness and suffocation but is instead saturated with acceptance. The bus stop of self compassion is a nonstop ticket into the wonders and depths of our lives and our soul.

So you see, self pity invites despair, hopelessness and helplessness as we become the consummate victim to the world at large. In contrast, self compassion is empowering, pulsing with love and new found discoveries and understandings as we remain in charge of our inner world. One pulls us down while the other lifts us up. When viewed with this level of clarity we can begin to know and understand the value of self compassion and proceed with an air of caution lest we turn the pity potty in our personal throne. There is no shame or impotent self indulgence to be found in self compassion. Instead, if you open its doors you will find deeper self acceptance and a healing path laid before you. The invitation to explore awaits you.

Be well and happy.