Getting Rid of Scars

We all have things in our past that we frequently remember, good and bad.  Some bad memories in my past are events where I’m really embarrassed about my behavior:  women I treated poorly, friends I didn’t respect as much as a should, and situations that I let get out of hand to a place where I was uncomfortable.  I would do all of them differently now but it’s obviously too late to fix.  These events pop up all the time in my head. I relive them, briefly, but regularly.

Imagine a river flowing.  This river is my energy as a person. Now imagine a rock in that river.  The water moves to go around the rock. It still flows and isn’t blocked much but the flow is somewhat disrupted.  Each one of these memories is one of those rocks. These are memories that get me charged up and that charge takes away from me doing other positive things and having positive thoughts.

This past weekend, I undertook an exercise to get rid of those rocks.

First, I went through my past and wrote down every single negatively charged memory that I still think about whether it was when I was age 8 or 40.  I was able to remember around 25 of them.

Then, I looked at each one a bit more deeply. What really happened?  What am I really upset about?  For many of them, when I looked, I was upset about something different than I previously thought.  For many of them, I realized that my deeper desire to please let me to bad behavior. I thought I was upset about the behavior but it’s really that desire that got me.

Then I spent all weekend ruminating on them. I shared the list with my wife and we talked about them.  These are my biggest embarrassments for the past 40 years and it was relieving to share them with Diane. Now all my secrets are out.  Just doing that removed the charge for some of them.

Next I made flashcards of each and then spent 4 hours going through each one (with Justin).  The goal is to forgive myself for judging myself in each action.  Give myself a pardon.  For each card, I looked at it and if was still charged I sat with it, closed my eyes and recognized the shame associated with it and found a way to separate the behavior from me and who I am today.  Doing that is key. If the behavior is not me, then I’m able to forgive it.

That process ended with me feeling much better about all of these areas.  I feel much freer and cleaner and streamlined.  Onward!

One story to share.  The weekend I spent ruminating on these items I went walking the dogs around the neighborhood in the rain (it poured a lot).  On Sunday night we (the dogs and I) were walking home and we came across as coyote standing in the middle of the road.  It’s common to see coyotes but they usually skirt past us and run into the brush as fast as they can. But not this time.  This time, he just stared at us. We were maybe 15 yards away and he stared for a long while – what seemed like minutes.  Eventually he turned but he didn’t escape to the brush but just walked down the middle of the road away from us.

To me, the coyote represents the pain and danger of the task at hand. Instead of running away from it, I was confronting it head on. Looking it in the eyes and realizing it isn’t that scary.  After a few moments, moving on to continue with my life.

Two followups

  1. The book Living Untethered is a great companion for this process.
  2. My daughter saw the flashcards on the table. She didn’t read them but wanted to make her own for me.  What she wrote melted my heart. I still not sure if it was her or God sending me a message 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *