A number of years ago, I was telling someone about a very unpleasant thing that my ex-mother-in-law said to me, and this person had the audacity to say, “I can see both sides of the situation.” I wanted to punch him. I couldn’t imagine how he could possibly see that her take on the conflict was at all legitimate or in any way my fault. I felt hurt, angry, and misunderstood, and I thought, “Well I just won’t ever talk to him about this again”.
For years, I held this same scene in my mind. I relived it, retold it, and replayed it over and over, and it never changed. I was unhappy initially and unhappy every time I thought about it. One day it dawned on me that not only were there two sides to every story, but there may be an infinite number of ways in which this (or any) situation could be viewed. I challenged myself to remember it differently, not making myself wrong, but not blaming her either.
As I sat with an open mind, I saw her face and it looked different. I didn’t try to change the situation, I just remained (as much as possible) an observer. She appeared kinder than I could ever remember seeing her, and as she spoke the same words, the thought, “She was trying to be funny” edged into my consciousness. The next thought that came was, “Oh my god, what would it feel like to believe this?”
The memory faded and as much as my mind wanted to scream, “Don’t believe a new story! She was really being a bitch!”, another vision had already crept in. I’ve never felt the same about this woman again. I don’t know how she feels about me, but I am free of the bitterness that I carried, and nurtured, for years when I thought about her.
Since that time, I’ve rethought many unhappy incidences from my past and every time, when I’ve had a truly open mind, I’ve seen or heard something new. I also have to admit that I haven’t done this with everyone. I still harbor a few victim stories that need new attention. We’ve all experienced this with others. We can hear a well-worn victim story from a mile away. It is easy to spot in others, not so easy with ourselves, but we can all do it.
We can spot our sad stories of the past and reframe them, open them up to a higher consciousness and heal them. The past doesn’t need to be our pattern for the future unless we are hell-bent on staying stuck in the negative well-worn groove of an unhappy story, hell-bent on defending our limitations, hell-bent on defending our right to be the one who was hurt. When Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” I believe that he was saying “Heaven is as close as a change of thought and an open mind”.
Wishing you all a heavenly weekend!