What if we approached for-giveness just as we altruistically do in being for “world peace” or supporting “animal rights”? Can we be for “giving”? It’s not being for “taking” or for “avoiding”, but making it our cause to give
something good. The initial thought about forgiveness is usually that it’s something we’re doing externally. But the deeper, more healing type of forgiveness starts with giving ourselves some love, understanding, and comfort. Then we have the capacity to share it with those around us.Sometimes during the holidays, we’re overextending ourselves in giving externally. Just like forgiveness must start internally, so does giving. In Whole Women Link, we talk a lot about mindfulness and balance. This season is a special time to exercise some of these habits we’ve already discussed so we can more fully enjoy our celebration with our loved ones.
As we consider being for “giving”, we want to apply this practically, so let’s talk about applying it this season with food. I can’t think of a more self-giving practice we do daily than eating. Let’s remember to give ourselves good things. We can go in with a plan before our get-togethers, remembering the healing and freedom we’re wanting to give ourselves. When going to a party, I always bring a bag of pumpkin or sunflower seeds with a piece of fruit because I know what I want to give: health to myself and happy bonding experiences with my friends and family. By doing this, I know I won’t go hungry and I can still enjoy the foods others have brought. If there are sweets I’m craving, I remember I’ve got my apple and I’m there to savor my time with friends. If it’s one of those times where your mother or grandma is saying, “Won’t you please try a piece?” I can accept a bite-sized portion, truly savor it, authentically thank her, and go back to my seeds or fruit after.
I share this with my patients and help them remember their big vision of enjoying vitality of health. When we focus on giving food to ourselves to reach our full measure, there’s no guilt or shame. Instead, we’re creating habits of true nourishment. We can also give ourselves some grace when things don’t go as planned, and try again.
Each get together, let’s remember what we really want to enjoy in the moment and long-term, like happy bonding and vibrant health.
Then check in with ourselves after and see how we were able to balance those goals, cherishing those happy moments and memories.
If tweaks need to be made, then we can be for “giving” that to ourselves during our next party with a more well-defined plan.
Let’s celebrate the holidays together, so share with us your ideas of how you’ve balanced this for “giving” pattern in the past or what your plans are this year. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to reply to this post. Have a happy, for “giving” Thanksgiving!
The Holiday season has equal potential to bring us joy and peace or chaos and contention. This greatly depends on our ability to see and promote the good in ourselves and others. This month we feel that the topic of “Forgiveness” is a fitting sequel to our previous topics of boundaries, self-worth, and emotional self-reliance as growth in all these previous areas lead to a need to forgive. The truth is that we are both victims and offenders in this life, no matter how hard we try to avoid hurting others or being hurt. All that we can truly control Is whether we are victims twice.
Before we are ready to truly offer forgiveness to ourselves or others, we need to “integrate” our story. That is a fancy way of saying that we need to bring what is in our unconscious awareness into our conscious awareness. As we start being able to name our feelings and experiences, we are then prepped to tame the emotions that so often overwhelm us. These include feelings such as distrust, pain, and protection that often stems from being injured. So often we are in an autopilot or reactive state when we feel threatened, and that brings out the worst in most of us. When we reach the point where we have integrated enough to “name” our emotions and experiences with acceptance then we can “tame” how we respond. We can say, “Even though I feel this emotion, I can love and accept myself. I do not need to be defined by my emotions and can choose whether I will continue experiencing them.”
Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. Once we have owned our experience, we can use the great gift of forgiveness to free us from the cycle of continued injury. As a trauma therapist, I want to be clear that this does not mean we accept further injury or condone the actions of hurtful people, instead it means we acknowledge that we all have a story, and all offenders have also been offended at some point in their lives. All we can control is whether we will perpetuate or end that cycle, or in other words, whether we will be victims twice. You are free to see the good in yourself and others, and it is this freedom which allows you both to move forward to higher ways of relating. You are also free to pick boundaries that honor who you are and your wish to become stronger and stop hurtful patterns in which you were previously stuck.
This holiday season, I wish each of us greater peace and joy that comes from the ability to mindfully act in a way that is consistent with our best intentions. Forgiveness perhaps is the greatest gift we can receive to set us free to start anew. Perhaps we can find the motivation to forgive others because we too have been forgiven for our weaknesses. As we let go of the losses of our past, we will be ready to feel the joy and peace that can be discovered during this time of year.