As we end this week’s theme of Forgiveness, it is incumbent for WAM to examine other parts of forgiveness so that we can learn our lessons and experience the freedom of growth and acceptance. Truth be told, my posts are the direct result of my experiences. I am 41 years old and feel like I’ve lived 40 lives in 41 years. As my Dad often reminds me, “Katherine, there are some people who learn through knowledge, you learn from experience”. I don’t believe my Dad is suggesting I haven’t learned through knowledge. After all, I have a Bachelor of Arts and Law Degree. The point is, most of my growth and learning at a higher level has been the direct result of what I have experienced. While I’m grateful for my education and my profession as a lawyer and I have learned a lot as the result, my “life” experiences have shaped my increased awareness of what’s truly important and my connection with Source.
Here’s a bit about my story. I’m a woman first and foremost. I am a mother to two beautiful children. I’ve had two marriages end in divorce. I am a recovered alcoholic. I’ve been fired from job’s and spent time in treatment. I am an entrepreneur. Some of my business have failed before I could even get them started. I’ve suffered from depression. I’m a lawyer by trade. I make mistakes. I am a creator. Most importantly, I am a survivor.
What have I learned?
Well, I don’t suppose that I’m done learning. In fact, I truly believe I am just now embarking on the best part of my journey of the next stage of what it is I have to learn. But, what I have learned from the plethora of my experiences to date is that unless I take responsibility for my part, I cannot truly learn my lessons and grow. The hardest part for me to accept was the notion that I might be contributing to the experiences of my life. Our society is about blame and for a long time, I fed into this. I didn’t do it, it’s your fault, if only you went through what I went through, but for what you did to me, I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did. Sound familiar? These are all euphemisms for “I’m not prepared to take responsibility for my actions in this situation”. I’m not ashamed of or regret my experiences. They have shaped the person I am today and I can honestly say that I am grateful for each experience (although, at the time I felt the opposite). It was devastating to learn that I might have a role in the dynamic of each situation I experienced, but upon accepting my part, the real growth began. (This is not to suggest that there are situations where there is clearly one person to blame (i.e. sexual assault) and I am not suggesting for one minute that there is dual responsibility in these sorts of experiences)
Why Is Accepting Responsibility So Important?
I believe that by honestly looking and one’s part and examining how one has contributed to any given situation, a sense of humility takes hold. Having had experienced even the littlest speck of humility, one can begin to empathize with the other person. From what I have experienced, upon having experienced humility, one is right sized and the truth about the situation can take hold. For example, the turning point for me in my recovery from alcoholism was my acknowledgment to myself that I acted selfishly and entitled (among other things) toward my immediate family (Mom, Dad and Sister). Until I could see my part in these relationships, I was going to stay stuck. When I finally realized the extent of my part, an overwhelming sense of humility swept over me. I felt shame, guilt and embarrassed for my actions. But, it was an awakening and it humbled me. I was able to empathize with the other person. I was then able to see what it was I needed to do to heal the situation….if I chose to.
How To Heal
My healing has been a journey in itself. I take one step forward and two steps back more often than not. However, over the years, each time I see myself regress back into old habits and behaviours and conflict ensues, I am able to recognize this quicker and then correct MY behaviour. I’ve written before about the saying sorry. Saying sorry will be meaningful only if the behaviour for which you are sorry is not again repeated. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, it’s “progress, not perfection”.
Some Suggestions and What to Look for:
a. Say sorry and mean it. Don’t continue to act as you did before. When you do, quickly acknowledge it.
b. Acknowledge the guilt, shame and embarrassment and then discard it. Staying in this state of self pity is not good, nor does it promote living in the Solution.
c. Continue to examine your behaviour. If you experience the least bit of a reaction, perhaps there is truth to what the person is saying. Remember, when you’re pointing the finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back.
d. Be Honest. We are all human and we make mistakes. It’s ok, so long as we continue to honestly self evaluate and have a willingness to be better, there will be a shift and growth.
As part WAM Healing Centre promoting Responsibility, I’ve created the Conscious Conflict Resolution Program. The CCR Program will help you examine the issue of responsibility and provide you with tools for the next time you’re in a conflict. I hope you check it out.