FRENCHIE FRIDAY: #forgive
News is coming soon about a live retreat with me at a sacred waterfront property.
I've done a lot of stupid shit. 😳
You might know me as a lifestyle doctor relatively equipped with wisdom that inspires others to become their highest self, but there is more to my interdimensional self.
I've hung by a hole in my pants from a chain link fence I was determined to climb.
I've shattered my cheek against concrete during a failed attempt to ride an electric scooter with my purse tucked under my arm. (Turns out you need both hands).
I've gone without dinner because I spent my budget on travel, and I've been carried away like a sack of potatoes from a would-be boxing match against a man who called me princess one too many times.
(That last one happened after leaving a birthday party with a fist full of frosting. My exact words to my sister were hold my cake.) 🍰
Despite the part of me that likes the dishes done and enjoys everything in its place, I have led a very messy life.
I'm a wild child at heart.
I love this part of me because she keeps life interesting.
This past Sunday, for example, the same adrenaline junkie who broke my cheek also took me skydiving. I can't ever remember feeling more like myself - and ironically more safe and secure - than when I was free falling from 10,000 feet from the ground.
My inner Paidia serves me well and has made my multidimensional life possible. She motivates me to take risks and gives me blind belief that everything is gonna be alright.
She's usually right.
Although I have always been a wild child, I had to work pretty hard in my 30s to recover my innocence, sense of adventure, and relationship with play. Even though she's covered me in scars, I wouldn't trade my play goddess for anything.
There is another reckless part of me, though, that is sometimes a struggle to love. She's the one who tends to self-sabotage, leaving scars on parts of my life that cannot be seen.
She's the part who found and stayed in obviously abusive relationships just because she didn't want to be alone.
It's the part that made bad business deals, lost money, and made investments in places and spaces I was not meant to be.
The part who's failed over and over and over again, desperately trying to create something of her life, often hitching my wagon to people who ran me right into a wall.
Her mistakes aren't cute or endearing, and they don't make a good "that one night you tried Tae-Bo on that guy" story. They're embarrassing, and at times, it's easy to hate myself for the decisions she has made.
I've spent too much time ruminating about the past, holding onto the idea it could have been better, and cringing because some damage I can't undo. The only way forward, I've realized, is to forgive her for good.
March has been a perfect time for this practice. Winter is waning, spring is in the air, and this month's flower - the daffodil - represents forgiveness, rebirth, and new beginnings.
It's perhaps no coincidence then that FORGIVE added itself to my model.
FORGIVE, as it turns out, is another stress response built into the human design. Just like FIGHT, FOLLOW, FIX, FLEE, and the fifteen other stress responses, FORGIVE is a physical, mental, and relational tool we can use to respond to situations in life.
When I looked up the etymology of FORGIVE, I learned it means to give up.
To give up = stop trying.
Forgive means we stop attempting to make something anything other than what it is. This obviously requires us to stop making effort with other people, to stop fighting a losing battle, and to walk away from situations that hurt.
But it also means that we need to stop playing with the situation in our minds, comparing it to what we wish it would have been.
To stop desperately trying to get over heartbreak. To stop believing it should have been better. To stop desperately trying to lose weight. To stop desperately trying to have a child. To stop desperately trying to make others understand. To stop being desperate for anything at all.
Stop thinking. Stop believing. Stop ruminating.
That's what FORGIVE actually means.
FORGIVE means to accept that the past could not have been anything other than what it was, and to act accordingly.
There was nothing you could have done differently. There was no way the other person could have behaved differently. And the circumstances could not have unfolded in any other way.
Forgiveness isn't easy to do because who you are now is not who you were then.
When you look back on the situation as the person you are now, you have a completely different perspective than the person you were back then.
From the present perspective, you are smarter, stronger, and perhaps healthier than you were before. It's likely true that you - the person you are now - could never fathom making the choices you made back then. This is because you weren't you back then.
You were a past version of you who is different than the present you today.
Think of it this way, would you judge a toddler for coloring on the walls? Or a puppy for peeing on your carpet? Or a teenager for failing a math test?
Would you be a little upset, disappointed, and inconvenienced?
Sure. But you would also arrive relatively quickly to the determination that a toddler, puppy, and teenager are doing the best they can with what they know so far.
Your past self is basically a toddler, puppy, and teenager. You weren't the person you are today.
You might have struggled with mental health and therefore your brain didn't create enough dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin to sustain yourself. Without feel good hormones of your own, you may have needed to enmesh yourself in a codependent relationship so that you could feel a little bit good - even if it was coupled with alotta bad.
You might have been up against pay discrimination as a woman or non-binary person, so it perhaps made sense to hitch your financial wagon to someone who could provide safety - even if it came at the cost of your sovereignty.
You might have been suffering from programmed delusion about your self-worth, feeling insecure and isolated, so it made sense to settle for friends who didn't treat you well.
You might have suffered from reproductive trauma simply by having ovaries in this oppressive society, so because you didn't have enough estrogen to fuel your own life, you desperately desired a marriage to provide a safe foundation for you to build upon.
You might not have known what you know now. And here's the kicker...
You only know what you know now because you back then was willing to do the things that earned you the knowing.
Whatever it was, the point is this: at every moment of your life, you are simply trying to survive. Every decision requires a combination of calculations that are hard to see when you're looking back from a healthier, stronger, more independent, or safe place.
Physical: How much hormonal fuel do I have to use in this situation? How close am I to trusted loved ones? How secure is this roof over my head? How much money do I have in my bank account?
Mental: What have I been taught about this situation? What reserves of self-love can I pull from? Do my belief systems empower or disempower me in this situation? What kind of programmed self-sabotage am I up against? Which traumatic stories have become activated?
Relational: How much social support will I have if I make this choice? What would my parents say? How will my friends react? Is there legislation protecting my rights in this situation? Are there leaders in position of power who care about my pain?
Regretting the past happens when the present self is more equipped than the past self and includes that equipment in the past equation.
But your past self didn't have the same equipment. The only response that was possible at the time was the response you took back then.
The sugar binging. The over-shopping. The abusive relationship. The debt. The bad habit.
Whatever the regrettable decision was, you made it because you didn't have a better option. If you would have had a better option, you would have taken it.
To forgive is to accept this as true and to give up the idea that your past could have been different - more specifically that you could have been different.
Often times, when we look back on the past, it's easy to see how others have hurt us and to wrongly believe that they are the only ones we need to forgive. The truth, however, is that you are a divinely sovereign being. You create your life and everything that has ever happened to you is an interdimensional manifestation of a gravitational force completely within your control.
Taking full responsibility of your life also means acknowledging that you played a part in creating your past. You can forgive others, that's fine.
But to fully move on, you must first and foremost forgive yourself.
Here's a little practice that can help.
Whenever you find yourself stuck or ruminating about something you wish would have been different in your life - a relationship you regret, a debt you feel stuck with, a situation that still hasn't happened - write a little letter to your past self as your present self.
As you list each pain point in its own paragraph, start with I forgive you for...
Then end each paragraph with, I understand now...
Try to see the situation from the perspective of your past self. What were they up against? What do you have now that they didn't have back then? What kind of social support were they missing? What were they trying to do for you? How can your self-sabotage be viewed from the lens of protective self-survival?
If you'd like to perform practices with me in person at a live retreat, be sure to sign up for notifications here. I'll let you know when details are released.
Forgiveness and understanding can be a powerful practice all on its own.
However, I will tell you, the last time I did this practice, something surprising happened right at the end. There must have been something about gifting my past self understanding that allowed my present self to realize that it's actually my present self who needs to be forgiven for being absent for so long.
Here's exactly what I wrote: