The Universal Apology

949 Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is the best formEveryone’s done stuff they wish they hadn’t. Lots of it. Life’s tricky. We feel stressed, we get tired, hungry, we misunderstand things or we’re coming from a place of pain or fear and we just say or do the wrong thing.

Sometime’s our focus is so riveted on something else that we’re oblivious to fact that we’re causing serious damage. It’s not like we meant to–and even if we did we felt justified at the time. But there’s just some things we don’t feel good about. We cannot think of them and feel okay, and yet we will have foregone the chance to make a connection through an apology so, while we may not be suffering, we’re also not expanding our capacity for love and connection.

This post will be the universal apology. The one from all of us to all of us. Because no matter when it was, anyone who isn’t a sociopath or psychopath has wanted to give one of these to a lot of people. That doesn’t make us bad people, it just shows that we’re people and that the badness or goodness is really just another judgment. So if you’re really stuck because you can’t figure out how to apologise to someone, you can always just send them this.

 

To Whom It Did Concern,

How do you even start an apology for something as terrible as I did to you? I don’t really see myself as a bad person but if I look at what’s gone on there is no way to excuse myself. I recognise that I was not behaving in a way that makes me feel good about myself as a person.

949 Relax and Succeed - The past cannot be changedDeep down I believe everyone deserves to be treated well, but what happened to you has shown me that I am obviously capable of getting so focused on what I perceive as my personal problems that I forget I might be being a very big problem for someone else. It’s like I felt I was on a ocean and I was thrashing because I was sinking, but I forgot that the ocean itself is made of people trying to stay afloat. It was selfish and I’m sorry. I thrashed you and there’s no way for me to take it back.

I suppose the pain of that knowledge is what sears this into my memory. I’m certain I’ll hurt people in all kinds of dumb ways because I’m human, but I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again the way I hurt you. I’m not even going to promise I can do that, but I’m going to put everything I have available into succeeding because it’s important to me; because you’re pain was and is important to me.

It seems amazing to ask you for a favour after being so selfish and hurtful to you but I do actually need one. I’m gonna work on this change really hard but if I’m honest I have a feeling that it’ll only be natural to be bunny-hopping two steps forward and one back for a while. So if you could extend a bit of forgiveness on those backward steps as I work on being more loving and generous in my relations I would appreciate that. Even if you can’t; I fully respect why and I’ll still give the commitment my all.

949 Relax and Succeed - Far from what I once wasMost important in all of this for me is that you know I don’t blame you. I know life’s always a mixed bag. Maybe you have your own letter you’d write about the same thing where you see yourself as someone who owes someone an apology, but this is how I see it and this is how I feel and for those reasons it’s important to me that you give the ownership of this to me.  It was my fault.

I did it. Intentionally, accidentally, blindly; it doesn’t matter. I hurt you. I did it. Give it to me. Stop thinking about it and know that I accept the responsibility and that it is my burden to carry until I convert into a better self. Regardless of how you choose to feel after receiving it, I will always keep an open mind about our future simply because I am so confident in the value of you and I’m equally confident in my desire to work toward living up to being someone you would genuinely love and respect.

Thanks for even giving me the time to read this. I really do care. I wish you all the best. I really do. All the time. Big hug.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The End of Defensiveness

We’ve all been there. There’s these moments in our past—these things we said or did either in the heat of a moment or out of confusion or a lack of maturity—and we really hurt someone. Or someone hurt us. Maybe they never properly understood due to the heat of the moment, or maybe they were confused or immature, Or maybe they’re reacting to something we never even did. Or maybe someone slandered or libelled us—leading others to believe things that are not true for purposes of their own. We’ve all got things we’re defensive about, be they things we really did or things that people believe we did that we didn’t do.

634 Relax and Succeed - Can all your worriesWhat happens is that we tend to re-live these moments in our life in vain attempt to rewrite them into something we feel is more honest. We want people to understand the state of mind we were in at the time, or we want them to have a perspective that is ours. So it gets replayed and replayed in our memory, turning those circuits into super-highways. The energy around our brain finds those like water finds low ground. So if someone hits on a part of our brain that we have spent a lot of time defending ourselves in, then it’s no wonder our reaction is quickly and strongly defensive. It’s our go-to reaction when we encounter that event, meaning people witnessing us in that state of mind are likely to come to the conclusion that we have overreacted to the current events.

So how do you get over a profound regret? How do you forgive cruelty and surrender the fight? These things visit you a lot because you think about them a lot. They’ll always be a part of your life experience, but they don’t need to be accessed that regularly. That’s what mental health is—spending time in the healthier parts of your brain rather than trying to retell a past narrative (or worry about a future one). So when you encounter those kind of thoughts you’re best to simply feel how lousy they feel and then respond very naturally to that feeling and set the idea down. It’s like a bicycle made of words. It goes nowhere unless you peddle it.

We’ve all had angry exes lie about us. And the people in school we bested. Anyone who was jealous of us—and if you’ve ever had a stalker they’re unlikely to say nice things about you. Anyone with opposing views will colour and hue any tales of you. And then there’s how our 634 Relax and Succeed - If you don't have enemieswork impacts our human relations. I used to be the head of creative at a TV network. I’d get over 1600 submissions a year and I had enough money to develop about 25 and shoot about 6 of varying sizes. 30 things out of 1600 got money before my budget was gone. So I disappointed a huge number of people and these creative works are understandably like children to them. So their very real feeling is that I crippled a child of theirs and it makes sense they don’t like it.

I’ve been slandered. I’ve heard rejected writers and producers tell complete fabrications that make me look bad, but an older wiser friend who had the same job with another network warned me about this eventuality. This happens in much the same way that anyone who’s ever been a boss knows that it’s unlikely that people we fired or scolded are going to be going around saying nice things about us. Which is why you can’t care. Because you still did what felt wisest at the time and you have requirements other than just nurturing their ego. So when people say that stuff—those people have agendas. Your ego would too if you started defending yourself. So don’t. Surrender to the inevitability and relax. None of that fluff ever affected your real friends anyway.

634 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes letting things goSure, when they initially happen those experience can sting. It feels unfair for people to describe us as exactly what we are not. That kind of thing hurts anyone. But the point of this blog is that you can’t let those inevitable events bother you. Even in the worst cases I won’t indulge thoughts about whatever’s happened to me for too long—maybe 90 minutes.

After the most recent attack I can recall happening to me, I called a friend and told him I needed an empathetic connection. He’s a wiser sort who knew to give me a quick connect via empathy and I was ready to move on. Forget about the events—I didn’t like the feeling I was experiencing so I switched to thinking about something more enjoyable. I wasn’t going to harbour discontent. I understand that people do that sort of thing all the time. I’ve done it. We shift responsibility for our guilt. Who wants to own that? So I accept that people are human and that egos all do some giving and we all do some receiving. But those experiences are painful, so I’m not interested in replaying them repeatedly. And nor should you with your versions of similar events.

The same applies to things you actually have done. I’ve written before about the eight people I was willing to hurt to elevate my own status. I wince every time I think of going for a laugh and sacrificing their feelings. I literally get physically sick with shame. I’ve found five of them and apologized. But rather than waste my life feeling terrible, I use the unpleasant feelings to 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't expect apologies on big betrayalsmotivate me to notice that if I’m bothered by hurting people then that’s actually a sign I’m a good person. I feel bad about doing something that hurt people. Only good people do that. And so I forgive myself because as I said, we all give and we all receive. And then I endeavour to do better. I don’t ruminate and regurgitate those thoughts. I leave them in my past and use them as platforms to build a bigger, better, more inclusive and loving me.

We cannot live with a desire to have a good reputation. Because that is impossible due to perspective: Gandhi was a freedom fighter to many but he was a terrorist to the British rulers in India. Jesus disrupted the Roman Empire. The Chinese want to de-legitimize the Dalai Lama. Extremely attractive people are often hated by other people. Smart people are derided for making less intelligent people feel insecure just by their presence. Everyone’s being judged unfairly. You have to go by your own character. That’s why it’s so important.

You can’t try to get everyone to like you, you have to find a way to be where you like you. Where you have a set of limits—a set of guiding principles that you apply to yourself as well as all others. And those limits define your character. If you’ve never really thought about those limits then you do not yet have character because character is what you believe in overall, not what you think about an individual circumstance. It’s why I 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't carry your mistakessometimes have to agree with people who are abhorrent to me. Because despite their hateful discourses, my character is that I value quality information. So I cannot dismiss quality information because of the source, despite my person feelings . Because character is above personal feelings.

Forget being defensive. Recognize your mistakes, apologize whenever you’re able, and forgive others their immature and cruel moves, and move on yourself. Move on to a new moment and a blank slate. Start fresh each moment with an aim toward realizing your character and you will have no reason to revisit your worst days for much time at all. Save yourself the daily agony and invest yourself in loving people today instead. It feels great and it’s probably the most productive thing you can do.

Love you all. Have a great one.

peace. s

2014’s Blog of the Year #2

585 Relax and Succeed - Foolish friends are worse*

Friends. No one makes us be with them. Every time we see a friend it’s generally by choice. And yet many people can experience challenging periods in their friendships. I wrote numerous blogs about friendship over the years, but this one was the 2nd most popular blog because so many people could relate to it. So if you really want to know what it is to be a truly good friend then give it a read. But it might surprise you. And you might find out that a friend that you thought let you down, really didn’t. So with many thanks to my own friends, and without further ado, I give you:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #2

Please note that I’ll be taking a few days off for Christmas after which I will present the Friday Dose of the Year, the Other Perspectives of the Year, and finally the very surprising winner of the Blog of the Year.

peace. s

2013’s Blog of the Year #7

The responses I get most often from students and readers is that they find my guidance extremely practical. I may use metaphor, but it seems that in their studies many other seekers previously only found more questions, whereas with me they’re finding concrete actions to take to move in an enlightened direction. This pleases me greatly because I am tired of people being told that enlightenment is difficult or hard or as though it’s some kind of achievement. Egos achieve. This isn’t an achievement. It’s a relaxing into what really Is. It is Acceptance and Surrender. What we need to do is natural. And it’s what we need to stop doing that leaves us where we want to be.

274 Relax and Succeed - Everything you are running fromOut of all of the blogs I wrote last year this one has to be in the top ten for clarity of action. Its instructions are super clear. If you want to run but your knee is in such pain that it prevents it, then you know you’re body is communicating that it’s not a good idea for you to run. You will hurt yourself even more. Same with your emotions. They are a simple signalling system that people have misunderstood. If your emotions hurt, then stop running around that subject in your head. It really is that simple.

If this blog wouldn’t have ended up in the Top Ten I would have put it on my list of my favourite blogs of the year because I likely got more mail on this one than any other. People found it extremely helpful and I certainly hope you do as well. To that end, Ladies and Gentlemen it pleases me greatly to re-join our countdown by presenting you with the 7th Most Popular Blog of the Year:

The Pebble In Your Shoe

The journey through your life is comprised of individual steps. These Moments are each distinct and unique aspects of the universe, but you will use your consciousness to string those individual steps together into what you call the journey of your life. So to be unforgiving is like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Each step of your journey you re-remind yourself that you are in pain. And rather than stopping and removing the pebble from the shoe of your conscious identity, you instead continue on, getting angrier and angrier at the pebble.

So it also goes with love. If you look for your former lover’s face in every passing stranger, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you constantly think about how you were wronged in the past by someone or some institution, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you watch the 274 Relax and Succeed - Be careful how you are talkingworld for the next impending disaster, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you hate someone for teasing or abusing you, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you focus on your spouse’s key faults rather than their key strengths, then those faults will be pebbles in your shoe.

Don’t be upset by the pebbles themselves. They will have gotten into your shoe by nature. There’s no way to avoid them. Just the act of walking will kick some up, and every now and then one will make it inside the shoe of your conscious identity and eventually it will find its way to somewhere painful. So it getting there is inevitable. But you continuing to walk on it is choice.

People will be self-critical and they’ll blame the pain on who they have become—on what shoes they chose to wear—and yet everyone walking the Earth will necessarily have shoes, and there’s no way getting around the fact that all of them kick up pebbles to be walked on.

People will sometimes be upset with the pebble itself, and yet it got there through natural means. It’s not like the pebble was looking for a foot to irritate. It was just laying there on the path of life and it happened to be one of the ones that ended up in your shoe. If it wasn’t this one it would be another one. So there’s no getting around the fact that we will end up with the pebbles. There’s no way to avoid that. So the real question is, what do we do when we become aware we have one?

That’s where the advantage of the pain comes in. The whole reason it hurts is because that is the universe communicating to you that you have a pebble of thought in the shoe of your identity, and that thought is rubbing your identity the wrong way. If we’re wise, that notification will be used as an opportunity for you to stop what you’re doing, pause, and then consciously choose to take off your shoe and dump out the pebble. That is the purpose 274 Relax and Succeed - 10 to Zenof the pain. It’s a notification system regarding your thoughts.

We all had to pick a style of shoe. Maybe we’re aggressive like an athletic shoe. Or maybe we’re open and free like a sandal. Maybe we’re pointed and sharp, like a business shoe. Or maybe we’re a casual shoe—something we can’t run in, but at least they’re easy and comfortable. But no matter what shoe-identity we’ve put on, they’re all susceptible to different kinds of pebbles. So don’t be surprised when the pebble ends up back in your shoe. But the process is still the same. You simply notice the pain, stop walking and you remove the pebble. Notice your emotional pain, stop thinking about that subject and replace those painful thoughts with something nicer. It’s that easy.

Eventually we learn to walk in ways that discourage a few of larger pebbles from getting into our lives. But don’t lament their existence. They are an integral part of the path you are walking on. They comprise the surface of the path of your life. Most times they carry your weight. But when they do get under your foot and generate an irritation—don’t start thinking you’re on the wrong path. Because a wise person doesn’t change paths. A wise person just gets really good at pausing and removing pebbles.

Don’t complain about emotional pain. Recognize it as your own thinking and get conscious and change it. Because if you can get good at letting thoughts go, then you will have minimized the amount of suffering you will do on your journey. And that makes for a beautiful walk through life.

Enjoy.

peace. s