This summer, I am working on decluttering both my house and my mind. Sometimes, one leads to the other. So, in this series, I will be writing about lessons about life, that I have learned through the purging of the majority of our possessions, as we prepare to create a new life for our family.
I felt guilty…
- When I saw all of the in-kind sheets that I did not complete. In doing so, I missed out on opportunities to play with Beanie AND funding for her preschool.
- When I saw our pool table, juke box, and other entertaining items. I remembered that the last time we had friends over, was before Christmas. Blinded by my own struggles, I had pushed other people away. Some friends, we will probably never see again. Others, we will see a lot less. We missed out on opportunities.
- When I saw the place where I sat, in front of the space heater, when I wrote my blog posts and corresponded with friends. Unable to see beyond myself, I missed out on opportunities to realize when I could help others. I was not completely honest in my writing, and often avoided it altogether, due to my perfectionism. Other friends I took advantage of, so focused on my struggles and so blind to the struggles they may have been facing–and becoming quite needy.
Decluttering always seems to bring with it guilt. And a little bit of guilt can be helpful–it often indicates that we are on the wrong path and need to make some changes. But after those changes are made, it serves no purpose.
Guilt is fear-based. If I am honest with myself, I am afraid that those I’ve wronged are still angry at me. I’m afraid that my daughter will not have as many pleasant memories of me, or that we won’t have the relationship that we could have had. I’m afraid that I have prevented her from reaching her potential. I’m afraid that I have damaged friendships.
The list of fears goes on and on.
The remedy for guilt is forgiveness. I know I’m always hesitant to forgive myself, especially when I don’t know whether the other parties involved have forgiven me. I feel like I need permission to let go of the guilt.
But the thing is, we don’t need permission. And we are doing nobody favors by beating up on ourselves. We are not helping the people we’ve wronged, by not allowing ourselves to move on. What we need to do is repair the damage, if we can. Otherwise, we need to apologize, if we have the opportunity. Then we need to forgive ourselves.
Remember that to forgive is not to say that the action was right or allowable. We’ve all done things that are neither right nor allowable. To forgive is to let go of anger, guilt, and vengeance. After we’ve done what we can, we need to let go. Then we need to move on.
And what if people are still angry? Grand gestures–or even diamonds and flowers–will not buy forgiveness. Needing to forgive, is a painful place to be, and it is something that the people who are angry still need to work out. We can do the right things–and allow time to pass, so that they can see that we have changed. But ultimately it is their decision and their internal struggle.
Our actions do have consequences, and we have to live with them. But we need to move forward from that point. Still, I have often found that, once I was able to let go and forgive myself, it turns out that the other parties were not as angry as I had thought. I was so angry at myself, that I saw it in my perception of their words and actions.
We have the power to change what is inside of us. And a little love goes a long way.