Forgiveness and the Problem of Fairness

“It’s not fair. Why does the betrayed person have to do all the work?”

That’s the question a woman asked me after reading last week’s blog post in this series on forgiveness. And she’s not alone, is she? Because really, it’s human nature to feel that way. And the truth is that there is no one right answer to the question of how to handle a forgiveness dilemma. There’s no “one size fits all.” For that matter, there’s no wrong answer either.

The thing is that, where forgiveness is concerned, the concept of fairness is basically irrelevant.

Because forgiveness, at least on the most practical level, is not about the other person; it’s about you. And if that’s the bad news, then the good news is that the power to reclaim and restore your serenity, inner peace, joy, and overall well being is right in the palm of your hand.

A great teacher of mine used to say this: no matter how you got your problems, they’re still yours to solve.

No matter what anyone else did (or didn’t do), you get to choose how hard you’re willing to work to reclaim your basic right to enjoy your life.

Getting clear about your beliefs about the concept of fairness will take you a long way toward making choices that will bring you the relief you want, need, and deserve.

The thing about fairness is that it can be tricky. It’s an edgy concept. Most of us carry a lot of baggage around the whole idea of it. So the first step is to make sure you’re on top of your “stuff” about it: your beliefs, your thoughts, and your feelings about it. As you raise your awareness about all of that, you can begin to make some decisions about what you still want to keep and what you might want to let go. The thing that should be your guide is the way your belief(s) make you feel.

“Living well is the best revenge,” wrote the English poet George Herbert.

Leaving the concept of “revenge” aside for the moment, he was spot-on right. And if you want to live well, you’ve got to take a look at your beliefs about fairness.

Scroll down to listen to my podcast episode about fairness.

If you have a forgiveness dilemma you’d like to share, feel free. I’ll address it, minus identifying names and details, during the next few weeks of this series on forgiveness. Or if you’d like to speak with me privately, go ahead and send me a message and we’ll set up a time.

Remember that your serenity, inner peace, and joy don’t have to hinge on anyone else’s behavior. Try to notice when you’re digging in your heels, cutting off your nose to spite your face, or otherwise holding onto the very feelings you’re trying to let go of.

As always, remember to breathe.

Do You Need to Forgive Someone?

A woman recently wrote to me about her forgiveness dilemma: after 45 years of marriage, her parents are divorcing.

She feels that her father is treating her mother badly and also putting her own kids in the middle of it all. She’s angry at him and sad for her mother. It’s keeping her up at night. She doesn’t want to feel this way. But she doesn’t want to forgive her father either.

Forgiveness: such a tender, complex topic.

It seems like it should be so simple. And, for the more evolved and enlightened among us, maybe it is. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise, it can be tricky.

The first challenge is going to be to decide, honestly, how motivated you are to free yourself from the grip of your anger and hurt. 

Feelings of anger and hurt can be consuming. They can deplete your energy and rob you of your serenity, peace, and joy. So if you’re struggling with forgiveness in any way – or more to the point, if you’re struggling with feelings of anger and hurt – the first task is to ask yourself whether you are willing to take them on. And that means accepting, deeply and completely, that, no matter how you came to be possessed of these problematic feelings, they’re yours to manage, master, resolve, release, let go of, and otherwise decide how to suffer less while you live with them.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be exploring the challenges of forgiveness. Click the video below to watch the intro video.


If you have a forgiveness dilemma you’d like to share, feel free. I’ll address it, minus identifying names and details, during the next few weeks of this series on forgiveness. Or if you’d like to speak with me privately, go ahead and send me a message and we’ll set up a time.

Your serenity, inner peace, and joy don’t have to hinge on anyone else’s behavior! 

As always, remember to breathe.

When You’re Struggling with Difficult Losses

This past Saturday, I buried a childhood friend. A few months before she died, she shared a memory with me: the two of us, sitting together under the stars, talking on the bunk steps at summer camp. It never occurred to me then that this day could come so soon.

With Father’s Day, this weekend was a one-two punch for me. When my dad died in the summer of 2009, I buried my entire family, though I didn’t know it at the time; almost seven years on, I am still in the process of understanding it, accepting it, and being of good cheer in spite of it. It isn’t always easy.

On my long ride home from the funeral, I felt gripped by a kind of nebulous nostalgia that almost took my breath away. The gathering had been filled to overflowing with the power of everlasting love and hope. I knew I was a part of that circle and I also felt held by it. But I was still vulnerable to those rogue waves of grief that can knock you over and tumble you like a rock at the ocean’s edge. I think we all are.

Tomorrow is promised to no one. And time is short. Healing our grief, making peace with our regrets, and remembering that no one walks the road of recovery alone are all essential. Kindred spirits are everywhere. We’re all in this together. And the power of love will see you through to your new safe harbor home, one day at a time.

I was asked to sing my friend’s favorite song during her service. And the next morning, on Father’s Day, I decided to record it and make it into a slideshow. For anyone who isn’t having the easiest time right now, for whatever reason, “Here comes the sun, it’s alright…”

How to Shift your Perspective

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change…

Have you heard this saying?

It was one of my favorite teachers, the great Wayne Dyer, who said it. And, once I started really working with it, it changed my life.

I had no idea how attached I was to the way I saw things.

And I am continually amazed at the connection between my emotional well being and the stories I tell myself about myself, other people, the things that happen in my life, and even the world in general.

Most people tend to think of change as something elusive, difficult, and even futile.

There’s no question that change can be difficult. We’re all creatures of habit . We tend to do things (the way we think, the ways we behave) the way we’ve always done them. But it is possible to shift your perspective. And the truth is that it’s much easier than you think. It just takes practice.

“It’s all in how you look at things.”

These words from The Phantom Tollbooth character Alec Bings are the essence of this truth. Shifting your perspective is an incredibly simple yet awesomely powerful skill you can learn to incorporate into your life.

Click here to watch the short video I made for you about the power of perspective.

In case you missed the other blogs in this series, here they are for you. Just click the one you want to view.

Intro to 4 Ps 
Practice 
Perseverance 
Patience
Perspective 

Are you having a hard time changing your perspective? Let’s talk and see if I can help you with that. Just click here to book a time to talk with me. 

Are We There Yet?

Do you remember asking the question “Are we there yet?” five minutes after getting into the car when you were a little kid? I know I did. And most people I know did too. We weren’t so into enjoying the ride back then, were we? It was all about getting where we were going. And these days, especially for people who are trying to get out of a hard place, dealing with a difficult situation, or suffering painful losses, the ride is anything but enjoyable.

No one has an easy time tolerating painful circumstances.

When we’ve been thrust into hard times, feel like we’ve been kicked in the teeth, or just find ourselves in the throes of difficult circumstances for whatever reason, it’s only natural for us to want resolve them, move past them, and just be done with them as soon as possible.

The problem is that sometimes we’re stuck.

Even though we desperately want to move forward, sometimes we get caught up in going over the past in our minds. We get hung up on regret: what-if, if-only, second-guessing… the works. And then we feel worse instead of better. Even if we’re not Monday Morning Quarterbacking, there’s just no way to push the river of healing. And there’s really no substitute for the tincture of time.

The Four Ps of Inner Peace can go a long way toward making the ride more bearable and even (believe it or not) more enjoyable most of the time.

Practice, Perseverance, Patience, and Perspective are the key ingredients in the basic recipe for Inner Peace, not just when you get “there,” but all along the way.

I wrote about Practice last week. Today is about the next two Ps: Perseverance and Patience.

Perseverance

Perseverance is about “keepin’ on keepin’ on,” even when you don’t want to. Because no one wants to when they’re feeling bad. It’s about pushing yourself gently, even just a little bit when you have to…over and over again.

In moments when you do feel like giving up, take just a moment to validate for yourself the discouragement you are feeling, but then… get right back up on the Perseverance horse.

Start again, as many times as you need to.

Every moment is new, you’re new in every moment, and now is always the right time. Suspend your disbelief, expect a miracle, breathe in and breathe out, and put one foot in front of the other, remembering that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Patience

There’s probably nothing harder than being patient when we feel bad. In fact, the worse we feel, the harder it is. Trying to get away from painful feelings and circumstances is the most natural thing in the world. The only problem is that it doesn’t actually work.

Not really.

Not in the long run.

The truth is that we can’t really pole-vault over things; we have to go through them. And it can take some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. New habits take time to develop. And that’s why Patience is key.

Perseverance and Patience are two sides of the same coin.

Perseverance is about keeping going, and Patience is about knowing that it takes a little time to get there.

Perseverance is about knowing deep down, really believing it, that steady wins the race every time. And Patience is about knowing deep down and really accepting the fact that the changes you’re trying to make are going to take some time.

The better you get at this balancing act, the better you’ll feel.

Even when you’re dealing with difficult feelings and situations and circumstances, perseverance and patience will make your life a little easier. You’ll find that you enjoy the ride a little more, even when you didn’t expect or plan or even want to be on the journey in the first place. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Click below to watch the video I made for you about Perseverance and Patience.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Post your thoughts and questions here.