Living in Gratitude
Life is such a mixed bag. As Forrest Gump’s mother would say, “You never know what you’re going to get.” Life provides endless opportunities to choose, so much so, that I believe that choosing is truly what life is about. We make some of our choices with influence from our history, including family background. We make some of our choices by assessing a current situation, including the trustworthiness, or not, of the people with whom we are involved. But, hopefully, we will make most of our choices from a guiding sense of purpose. In order to choose well we must ask, “Is this choice in alignment with who I believe myself to be, or with who I am becoming?” Part of maturing is to learn the ins and outs of choosing well.
I’ve started compiling notes for my second book, which will include a fair amount on trusting again after relationship loss. It’s a fascinating topic. Trusting again is often difficult because of learned childhood patterns; but it is the only option for a satisfying life. Along with all that I’m learning about trust, I had a realization the other day that I thought I would share with you.
In order to access trust, gratitude, and forgiveness a paradigm shift is required. Said another way, maturing in trust, gratitude, and forgiveness moves us into a more powerful and peaceful paradigm.
Most of us are familiar with the thoughts and feelings that come with the paradigm that I call “Victim” because we start out in a version of it as children. Life happens TO a child. In the Victim sphere we have little personal power, find little to be grateful for, want to trust but fear it and possibly loathe it, and it’s oh-so-hard to offer forgiveness to an offender because it seems like letting him or her get away with something. We’ve all spent enough time in this paradigm to know how consuming, isolating, and painful, it can be. The mind never gets to rest as it generates story after story to justify the misery.
A New Paradigm
The paradigm shift I’m referring to is to a new energy I will call “self-responsibility.” For many of us personal responsibility has come to mean doing a bunch of stuff we don’t want to do, or putting up with the bad behavior of other people. But in actuality it has nothing to do with another person.
Mature trust, in the new paradigm, doesn’t say “don’t ever hurt me” rather it says, “I trust I will be able to take care of myself no matter what you do.” That taking care may mean confrontation, setting limits, or ending the relationship and grieving the loss. All of which are done on your own two feet.
Mature forgiveness doesn’t say, “I’ll forgive you when you apologize.” It says, “I’m letting go of this offense because waiting for you to get it is keeping me stuck.” Again the focus is on you. The power is yours.
Acting from this new paradigm of mature trust and forgiveness circles us back to gratitude. We can be grateful for our personal power, our ability to choose things that make us happy, and to trust other people so we can get our relational needs met. This doesn’t mean that others will be infallible, that’s impossible, but we can trust that no matter what life, or another person, tosses our way we’ll be just fine. Fear disappears in the face of this kind of confidence and power. To focus on developing those things is so much more worthwhile than giving power away to some yahoo who doesn’t deserve it.
Two Approaches to Life
Either we act on life, or it acts on us. Again, we choose. For the victim – people, events and other things outside them have the control and the power. This is called an external locus of control in the psyche world. For the self-responsible, control and power come from within; called an internal locus of control. The two are very different. The dynamics are different. The energy is different. The possibilities are different. There is a different feel to each: one hurts, the other doesn’t.
I invite you to focus on the paradigm of mature forgiveness, trust, and gratitude. There is a simplicity to it. A quiet sense of control. A place of benevolence. Find that place inside you that knows all is well no matter how life twists and turns. Once found, it is like being in the calm eye of the hurricane while life spins in circles around you, or like being in stable currents below the boisterous choppy waters of a rough ocean. There is a place of stillness to be found for the seeking. And for THAT we can be grateful!