My previous post dealt with heartbreaking moments in life, one of which I had this past weekend. After days of intense inner work, my breakthrough came yesterday. I will share that with you in this post.
The catalyst for the heartbreak of the weekend was that I was yelled at by a loved one for what I considered no good reason. It blindsided me, was totally unexpected, and impacted others present who were likely taken aback, maybe even embarrassed by the outburst. I was stung to the quick. This time, instead of driving it down where I didn’t have to face it, I let it stay on the surface where I could feel the slow burn of resentment and anger.
What is different about this reaction?, you ask. Everyone who has an evolved sense of social behavior knows you need to get the feelings out in order to deal with them. What’s different is that I didn’t discuss it with them, knowing it would only throw gasoline on the fire and do no good. It would be discussed – or not – only after forgiveness occurred on my part. I would know what the proper reaction would be only then.
In the tradition of A Course in Miracles (The Course), one should forgive quickly, realizing there was no sin committed in the first place. How does feeling the anger, enjoying the resentment, accomplish that directive?, you ask. My answer to myself was, let’s try something different this time. Let’s not stuff it down where it can’t be dealt with at all. Let’s deal with it, knowing that I WILL get to the forgiveness stage eventually. But only if I allow myself to FEEL it now, for as long as I need to. The Ego wants to be angry and resentful and focus on revenge. Well, I’ll let it – but know that I’ve got my eye on you, Ego, and you’re not going to win in the long run. My Higher Self and the Holy Spirit are in the background, working their magic, and they’re going to find the right way to think about this heartbreaking incident in the long run. So have your fun, Ego, because it’s going to be short-lived.
With that, I gave into the depressing feelings of anger and resentment. My energy was taken down way low and I burned with intensity, enjoying but not enjoying, which is the Ego’s way. I walked every morning and kept the daily lesson from The Course in my mind, trying to apply it to the situation, but with very little luck. I had faith, however, that the two HSs were working their subtle magic and that they’d be victorious soon enough. I could look forward to the forgiveness event, knowing that I’d know what to do once the forgiveness had occurred.
Yesterday, while applying my mind to the problem and getting nowhere, my mind took the road MORE travelled (without my direction – you know how minds are) and started thinking about horses and natural horsemanship. I enjoyed mulling over the previous day’s training session and interactions with my horse Loretta, with whom my relationship since purchasing her 1.5 years ago has only improved. At this point, she literally can DO NO WRONG. I have applied the principles of Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) so diligently over the last year that her every negative move is now met with the appropriate reaction: love and understanding.
For example, when working on the ground with a lead rope and I ask her to come towards me and she pulls back like a mule. My gut reaction is to get mad at her for not obeying and then to pull harder. Her next move would then be to dig in her hooves and apply all of her 1000 pounds plus to pulling back. Guess who’s going to win that rope pulling contest! Worse, our relationship would have been damaged. She would see me behaving like a dumb predator and be more stubborn in future transactions. I would have been reacting out of unforgiveness and a sense of her doing something wrong.
Fortunately for our relationship, I instead apply the core PNH principles of love, language and leadership. I realize that Loretta is, in typical left-brain introvert (LBI) style, saying that she needs a few seconds to consider my request. “You are not the boss of me!” she says. So when I give a little on the rope, allowing her to pull back a little bit but persisting in my gentle request to come forward (and get a treat), after 2 seconds, she says, “Well, OK, since you asked so nicely.” And she comes forward with eagerness. I get the desired reaction because I’ve put myself in her head and understood where she’s coming from. There was no evil intent on her part – it was her natural instincts taking over, over which she has no control. I allowed her to give me what I wanted by making it easy for her to do so. And then getting a treat as reward. Everyone wins in that transaction – there were no losers, no domination, no submission, no resentment, no unhappiness. In fact, the opposite was true – she’s happy because I understood where she’s coming from. I’m happy because (1) I’m smart enough to figure her out, (2) she did what I wanted with joy in her heart, and (3) we increased the strength of our relationship instead of decreasing it.
As I said, I was mulling over this kind of thing when it struck me that PNH principles are a metaphor for proper human interaction as well! If I could only understand what were the key motivators for the person who yelled at me, maybe I could find a way to easily forgive the sting. To discover that the yell was motivated by fear or some other perceived vulnerability on their part would allow me easily to forgive the yell. After all, that’s what I do all the time with past life traumas – perceive the vulnerability in the offender and the forgiveness just washes over me, almost unbidden. It’s all about perspective. And the proper perspective drives loving feelings and appropriate actions towards all.
PNH has a great way of framing the basis of natural horsemanship: difficulties are to be met with a sense of curiosity. How can I get my horse to do X? What can I do to make this a fun interaction so that my horse will actually want to do what I’m asking? It’s like a puzzle. You puzzle and puzzle until you find the answers. Forgiveness is like that: you puzzle and puzzle – working with the two HSs – and eventually, if you’re open to it, you get an elegant answer. One that amazes and stimulates you to loving action through proper perspective.