The Tough People In Our Lives

The summer – in addition to its magic – can also bring us together with people who elicit our negative feelings.  With so many family gatherings and social functions ahead, and with the summer bright  with opportunities of restoration and renewal, I want to reprint an earlier blog I wrote on the challenges of negative feelings.

“There are thousands of suggestions about how to unclutter your life to be found on the internet, hundreds of books falling off the shelves in libraries, piles of blogs devoted to the subject and stacks of research papers on why we collect and hoard. Most of the attention is given over to material objects with the constant message being: the more stuff you collect around you the harder it is to move forward.

The existence of gravity in the universe depends upon the collection of matter; the more matter present – the more stuff – the more gravity. This principle of gravity seems to ring true in regard to the things that collect in our lives,particularly with respect to the needless negative stuff we collect in our mind. The more needless feelings we harbor, the harder it is to break free of the pull of their attraction.

Since this seems especially true of the feelings we stack away about the behaviors of other people, consider picking one these negative feelings to throw away as a means of pulling up one of the anchors that is holding you in place.

Try this – though it’s a hard place to start – forgive somebody for something today with the goal of trying to eventually cross off the injustices and shortcomings of all of the people in your life. What harm can it do you? But start easy. Don’t pick the toughest person on your list first. Practice by picking someone like the person that wrongly honked at you at the stop light this morning or someone that hasn’t hurt you very much at all but who is still creating an unnecessary gravitational pull and in some small way keeping a part of your attention, growth and creativity staked to the ground.

Write their name and deed on a piece of paper – in code if necessary. Leave this note somewhere to catch your attention and to remind you of your goal of forgiving and letting go. When you feel you’ve done this – forgiven the person – kiss the note (literally– none of this angry metaphoric wadding-up, tearing or burning) and with a sense of reverence for your accomplishment lay the forgiven deed gently in the trash. No saving it. Our goal is not to find a new way of not letting go. Our goal is to forgive people so we can move on, so that we can pull free of the gravitational field of stored injustices.

Once you have done this with one person pick someone else and proceed.

Forgiveness is not easy but we can never complete our day with a feeling of genuine gratitude if our hearts and our minds are filled with the clutter of resentment, disappointment and anger. Forgiveness is often a hard thing to do. On the other hand the lack of it will keep us partially bound to a place forever.”

Fred Swan

Fredrick Swan is an artist and an author whose career has encompassed years of working as a child and family counselor, an individual therapist and serving as a field instructor at a graduate school of social work. Aware that he is one of the few people on earth who has lived to explore the meaning of their own death in the context of their life, he is currently writing a blog to inspire others to reimagine their lives. His artwork has been shown in the Northwest for a number of years, has appeared in two seasons of a television series, a movie and is in collections of people living in the United States and Europe. Fredrick writes and paints beside a creek just outside the diverse river port city of Portland, Oregon. The father of four, his art work and blog can be found at “Parentheses – A Memoir of My Life Before, During, and After My Death” is available on Amazon where you can read a preview of the book and its reviews.