Thursday, May 16, 2013

Release Regret, Embrace Forgiveness

As I struggle with regret or self-reproach because of the mistakes I have made in life, I am no longer ashamed of my fallibility. My mind may shoot arrows of regret at me from time to time, but I am using them to open my heart, not to wound it.
-- Richo, D.

We have all made mistakes or committed indiscretions, be it in the realm of finances, careers, relationships, health, or other areas of our lives. Sometimes, memories of one or more of these mistakes may arise out of nowhere as stabbing pains of regret. Our sense of ourselves can be reduced from inflated to real and we regain humility. In these moments, we must practice loving-kindness toward ourselves, and others. If our regret is about how we have harmed others, our practice is to make amends. If our regret is about how someone has hurt us we might say, “May I forgive now no matter how I was hurt in the past." This can be quite liberating, and it the only path to true happiness.

Regret must not force us into a useless sense of shame, making us lose sight of our positive qualities. When regrets no longer victimize us but become triggers to the healing powers we all host within, we are encouraged. We begin to see all that has happened in our lives with detachment from suffering and commitment to compassion. 

As the Buddhists say, "Pain is not a choice but suffering is." 

Letting go of regret can be difficult if we choose to make it so. A greater challenge is often forgiveness of self and others. At times they go hand-in-hand. For me, forgiveness was my only clear path to healing from that, which was done to me. When I elected to step out of the role of the victim and into the role of the empowered, strong, independent, and self-reliant, I found freedom and true happiness. 

Isn’t to love and be loved what every human deserves from day one?

In the long run I have no regret, as everything that has happened has been an opportunity for spiritual growth. As one friend put it, every action -- good or bad -- is a reaching out to a higher power, a higher consciousness -- something greater than we ourselves are. I call "it" God but you may call it something other than. Regardless, it resides within us all and we should tap into it, become aware of it, and realize we share it with everyone else who inhabits the Earth. Simply because one does not recognize or acknowledge it, does not mean it doesn't exist. At the core, one is no better or worse than the other -- perhaps different on the surface but that's it.

To live with regret for your actions or the actions of others is futile. To strive for forgiveness of oneself and others is perhaps the better focus of our attentions. Peace of mind, strength of body, wholeness of heart, and harmony of all three is attainable through forgiveness.

Release regret, embrace forgiveness.