Forgive Me: Two Simple Barrier-Breaking Words

By: Rachel Tenenbaum

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Forgive me, as I may not relay this brilliant, heartfelt lesson in its fullest form, though I promise to try.

Yesterday, at the start of class, I heard the following,

When we are in shame, fear, anger, or frustration, there is no space for love.

Isn’t that what we are all after, after all, love? To be and feel love?

The antidote is forgiveness.

When we forgive, for the thing from either moments or years ago, we open space within ourselves to be fuller expressions of ourselves, to love more fully.

Those potent words reverberated through my body as I realized that to be fully present, to receive the gifts of the class, to fully participate, I needed to forgive myself.

[Related: Moving Beyond Betrayal]

Victoria, B.C., took my breath away the first time I landed on her coast. Stunning landscape, abundant in wildlife and nature, the city offers so much in the way of intentional living and being. For a pedestrian, people stop without the need for traffic signals or signs. They pause because, well, it’s decent to do so.

However, a week after landing here, in my rush to get to class, my well-worn New Yorker neural pathway of “go-go-go” kicked in, and I did not stop for the pedestrian. A small moment, but the impact was significant. I was anxious and worried I was running late, again.

An abundance of beauty, Victoria also has a wealth of traffic. I had missed my mentor’s class the night prior and promised myself I would allow an extensive amount of extra time and arrive early. Early, of course, turned into “barely on time,” and in those moments, I cared for no one but myself.

While I made it to class, how I made it felt unkind. It is incredible how much a (my!) brain can say in a whole five seconds as it (barely) considered stopping: “It’s pausing for that pedestrian, or it’s class! If you miss again because of traffic and your inability to judge timing, you are an ***hole.”

The voice inside my brain can be quite gracious, but I am assuming you can relate?

[Related: Dealing with Your Inner Critic — Handling the Tough Self-Conversations]

Not only did I listen and not stop, but once I made it, the voice pulled a bait and switch and ever-so-unkindly whispered, “You idiot, did you see the look she gave you when you didn’t pause? Those fifteen seconds would not have made a difference, and look at you, you made yourself extra anxious in justification of your choice, and now you are bringing all of that toxicity into class. When will you learn?”

The example I share infused my personal life; however, these examples permeate not just the day-to-day realm, but also the professional world.

Whether it’s showing up late or making a mistake of any kind, we berate ourselves, immediately removing ourselves from the present moment. We rob ourselves of the opportunity to fully contribute when we remain stuck in the voice of our minds, in the past or future, in fear, in anger, in frustration, in shame, in explanation, or in justification.

Neuroscientific studies evidence how these behaviors have us learn less; also, when we remain stuck in these behaviors, we remove ourselves from the richness of the present moment, missing critical information and essential opportunities.

And isn’t that what we truly desire? To experience ourselves at our best, to contribute?

That is a form of love.

And it takes courage.

Forgiveness. “I forgive you.” Three powerful words and an intention that immediately took me out of my head enabled me to learn and shifted me into the moment. I cannot give, I cannot receive, and I cannot truly learn from my mistakes when I am stuck in states that drain energy and pull me out of the present moment.

Forgiveness. Of self. And of others.

What do you forgive?

It’s courageous; it’s transformational.

It’s barrier-breaking.

[Related: Work Reboot: 7 Tips To Refresh and Recharge]

A certified professional coach and facilitator, Rachel Tenenbaum has a background in neuroscience. Her focus is on leadership development and personal development in and outside organizations. This article was originally posted on Medium.

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