Have you ever been “wronged”?
You know – screwed over, left hanging, victimized, taken advantage of, manipulated, deceived, lied to, let down and/or just gotten a raw deal.
If so – you have held an injustice or burden in your head/heart.
Injustices or burdens do not have to be momentous – just yesterday, someone cut in front of me while I was in line. Not a life-changing event.
The difference between “normal” wrongs and “life altering” wrongs is fairly straightforward – can you move on or does the injustice stay with you?
When you carry injustices with you on your journey it is a distraction (at the least) and a deterrent (at its worst).
The bad injustices become clear burdens and deter your decision-making; alter your preferred course of action and take away from your experiences and contributions.
Simply put –
It’s hard to soar higher while carrying great burdens.
A key step in your Deliberate Journey is to identify and release burdens before you begin to build new goals.
As an executive coach, I work with clients who carry burdens. Let’s use a story about a client I’ll call Bob and see what he can teach us.
Bob’s wife left him. While not the first man to be divorced, Bob is bitter. From his perspective (certainly only half the story), he got screwed. His wife just left. Not only did she leave, but also she took the kids and half his net worth. Now he works harder than ever and watches his money go to child support and alimony.
He is hostile, bitter and distrustful.
While he needs to work through this painful transition, Bob isn’t moving. He’s stuck in his resentment. He stopped trusting and in many ways stopped living. He has no intimate relationships and is cynical. It’s hard for him to move his life forward.
My biggest challenge with Bob wasn’t setting goals or advancing his career, it was to help him forgive and forget.
While you may not share Bob’s specific circumstances, you may have baggage and burdens of your own. You know the drain they have on your energy, focus and desire.
This is what I did with Bob; see if it can work for you as well…
This is hard – here are some suggestions – depending on how heavy the burden, some may work better than others.
- Seek Therapy – get help to work through it. It isn’t a “bad” thing; it doesn’t mean you’re crazy – think of it as hiring a consultant to help you through a tricky situation. It is resourceful.
- Write a Letter – put your anger, grief and resentment into a letter. While you won’t send it, purge on paper. When it is all out – ceremoniously burn it and release the toxin.
- Try to Empathize – while you may never agree with what was done to you, get to a point of understanding. Sometimes, if you understand it from the perspective of other – you can more easily release it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone what was done or even agree with it. It is setting you free, not reinforcing the behavior. There is a big difference between “understanding” something and “agreeing” with it. In that space there can be room to forgive and forget.
- Forgive Yourself – ironically, before forgiving someone else – you need to forgive you. This requires you acknowledge the role you had in the situation or circumstance. Whatever the injustice, you played some role in it. Let your self off the hook and then try to do the same for the other. We often transfer our self-anger (e.g., “How could I of been so stupid?”; “Why didn’t I see that coming?”; “What is my problem!?”, etc.) to the other person. After all, it is easier to be mad at someone else than it is to own my responsibility in the issue.
I’m sure there are more strategies than just these four. My intent isn’t to create a comprehensive list, but instead to get you started.
Depending on your burden, forgiveness may not be achieved on the first try. Take time to reflect on your efforts. Be willing to identify and deploy another strategy if you haven’t been able to forgive and forget. Devote the time and resources needed to free the burden and move on.
You’ll be glad you did!