“We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven but because we love ourselves so much we don't want to keep paying for the injustice...when someone can touch a wound and it no longer hurts you then you know you have truly forgiven.” ~ don Miguel Ruiz
In the book The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of forgiveness. For many of us, forgiveness is difficult. I know I had a tough time in my life forgiving my father for sexually abusing me. But, over time, I have learned that forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about releasing the pain and anger I was holding on to in my life. Forgiveness is not saying that what happened was okay, it is about acknowledging that it happened, understanding that I cannot change the past, and deciding to live in the present moment where I am no longer being abused. The best lesson that I learned was that by not forgiving my father, I was suffering over and over. My suffering didn’t have a negative impact on him; it had a negative impact on me. The pain was real, but suffering was my choice. And when I realized, I had a choice, I decided to stop suffering.
When I decided to stop suffering, I faced the emotional wounds head on. I worked with a counselor, journaled, meditated and attended the Healing the Heart program at the Chopra Center for Well-Being. It was hard work and emotionally draining, but it changed my life. I explored the emotional wounds, and released the poison I was holding onto in my body to heal the pain.
I agree with don Miguel Ruiz when he tells us to forgive because we love ourselves so much that we no longer want suffer from the injustice. I know that forgiveness is the only way to heal and experience freedom. I understand that I have forgiven my dad because when I hear his name or think about him, I no longer have an emotional reaction. I am free!
Is there someone you need to forgive in your life?
What steps can you take to acknowledge what happened; understand you can’t change the past and forgive?
“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.” ~don Miguel Ruiz
The fourth agreement in don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements is to Always Do Your Best. It implies taking action with the first three agreements discussed in earlier blog posts. One of the key lessons in this agreement is that your best will change from hour to hour and day to day. When you are tired or ill your best will not be the same as when you are healthy and energetic. Whatever is going on in your life, you must always do your best, no more and no less. Don Miguel tells us that “when you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself, and it will take you longer to accomplish your goal. If you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgment, guilt, and regrets.”
In following this agreement, I had to learn to concentrate on the “no more” part of the concept. I grew up believing that to be successful I had to give 110 percent – doing my best meant going above and beyond. I have learned that I just need to do my best and I don’t have to be “superwoman” and go beyond. Going above and beyond did not lead to balance in my life - I was exhausted because I ran from task to task; I was afraid that I was not doing enough. I was tired because I was expending more energy than was necessary. I have high expectations for myself, but I have learned that I just need to do my best at each moment in time. Now I give my best, no more and no less. I’ve slowed down, and I take the time to savor my work and my relationships.
Another key concept in this agreement is that you do your best because you love what you are doing and not expecting anything in return. Some people only take action because they are expecting a reward. You should take action and do your best for the sake of doing the task without expecting a reward. I have found that the best rewards come when I am not attached to expecting a reward. Life is so much more enjoyable! As I continue to follow all four agreements, my best continues to get better.
How does doing your best change throughout your day and week?
How can you do your best – no more and no less?
“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~don Miguel Ruiz
The third agreement from don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements is Don’t Make Assumptions. One of the things I learned is that I had a tendency to make assumptions about everything. Much of the drama in my life was rooted from these assumptions because I believed them to be true and then I took them personally. I made assumptions about the actions of others and what they were thinking about me and I didn’t even know if they were accurate. I then blamed them and created drama in my mind.
An example of making an assumption might be that you are out at the store and you see a friend and she ignores you. You then make the assumption that she is mad at you. You concoct a story about why she is mad you and then your ego gets involved and you begin to defend yourself about how ridiculous it is that she is mad over that situation. Then your anger begins to build and you are now mad at her. If you would have asked why she ignored you, it might have been as simple as she didn’t see you or she just received bad news and her mind was focused on other things. But, most people don’t take the time to ask questions and just let the situation fester in their head. Making assumptions happens in the mind and it causes you to create all sorts of “what if” scenarios that get out control and create angst.
Why do you make assumptions? You make assumptions because of fear – you are afraid that something is wrong, that people don’t like you, that others are mad at you, or any other number of reasons. You are afraid to ask for clarification. But, it is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions lead to pain, suffering and worrying.
Most people make assumptions many times during the day and most of them are made unconsciously. You might feel that it is not safe to ask questions; you believe that if you friends or partner really knew you, then they should know what you want or how you feel. The problem with that thinking is that everyone does not see the world like you do. Others have had different life experiences and they view the world in their own way.
The best way to stop making assumptions is to ask questions. You must be authentic and find the courage to express yourself. You need to have clear and open communication with others. If you don’t understand, then find your voice and ask questions until you do understand the situation.
Do you make assumptions about what others are thinking and doing?
What can you do to get clarification when you don’t understand?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.