We are here to learn and to grow. Life on Earth is an opportunity to explore, discover and evolve our consciousness, our spirit and our human nature. One of the most powerful ways to do this is in relationship with others. During our lifetime, the people we meet along the way and the experiences we share with them are often our greatest teachers. Seen in this way, our families, friends, colleagues and social networks are the bearers of great opportunities to learn, if we allow them to be.
Often times the lesson that someone is meant to teach us can come in the form of a challenging or even hurtful experience. Being mistreated and undervalued presents us with an opportunity to raise our standards and practice greater self-love. Being teased or criticized can teach us humility and is a great exercise in rising above the reactions of ego. Being taken advantage of can help us to cultivate patience, generosity and unconditional love. All of these exchanges can also create an experience of anger, frustration, sadness, insecurity, helplessness, unworthiness, etc.
Ultimately, it’s our choice. We can choose to embrace the opportunity for growth that a particular relationship brings or we can resist it. We can choose to accept and practice the lesson that we are being taught by a particular individual or we can identify with our ego’s reaction to it. We can choose to act from a place of love or fear. When we choose love, we grow and expand. Choosing love in this context means loving ourselves enough to receive the gift of the lesson in question and loving the other enough to honor their role as the messenger. The word that best describes this practice is for-GIVE-ness.
Our ability to learn from life’s challenges and especially people and relationships is a direct reflection of our ability to forgive. So many of us resist forgiving others because we do not want to condone their infractions or encourage their behavior. Pride can also bar the way. Another big obstacle is our need to be right which leads us down a path of identification with the ego’s fear responses.
Here’s the thing to consider. When you’re angry, who suffers? When you’re sad or frustrated, who bears the burden of those emotions? It’s not about letting the other person off the hook for their actions but rather, releasing ourselves from whatever suffering we’ve been carrying or negative emotions we’ve been harboring.
And regardless of the situation or circumstance, what do you REALLY get out of being right? Being right is not only highly subjective, but it is also one of the most overrated outcomes that we as humans aspire towards. When we dig down deep and consider what we want out of life, we might say that we want to be fulfilled, loved, happy, inspired… but being right? Being right is not an end worth suffering for and it’s certainly not worth missing out on the lesson that life is offering us at any given moment.
So here’s what we can do: we can begin by embracing the opportunity for expansion and transformation that relationships bring, even with all their challenges and ups and downs. We can let go once and for all of the need to be right by recognizing and reminding ourselves that it is the ego’s objective and a fool’s errand. Most importantly, we can see forgiveness for what it really is. It is one the greatest acts of love that we can practice in this lifetime. It is an expression of our love for ourselves and our power to choose healing over suffering, expansion over contraction and evolution over regression. It is also a chance for us to show our gratitude to the Uni-verse for the lessons that it is teaching us, as well as to the individuals who bring us those lessons, regardless of how painful or uncomfortable our experiences may be.
Our time here is limited. Let us not waste another day carrying the burden of yesterday’s grievances. Let us not allow our internal space to be contaminated with anger, frustration or a preoccupation with being right. Let us not get caught up with petty differences and let anything come between us and those we love. Above all, let us live to the fullest and love to the highest.
Forgiveness is a bridge to our highest selves and to our divine nature. It is a gift that is ours to choose. Let us forgive and learn. Let us forgive and grow. Let us forgive and evolve.
Written for The Daily Love (May 19th, 2012)