It was the cleaver. I flinched, jolting away from the cleaver. Wouldn’t you? Except when I flinched, I shoved my granddaughter between me and the cleaver! I can’t believe I did that! I know I’d do anything to protect her. She was twelve years old, so I should have protected her. The fact that it was a haunted house didn’t really matter, it really disturbed me that my instinctive flinch away from the cleaver put me behind a kid I love.
This moment of truth told me a lot about survival instinct, and the actions that happen on automatic when that survival instinct takes over and we act without thought. Ironically, it was this memory of my own failure that helped me make the leap and let go of something that has haunted me for thirty-nine years.
At Refresh Your Passion Kathie Donovan spoke about courage, and the courage of letting go of the negative influences in our lives. We all have a story, and lots of our wisdom comes from the pains we have endured and the stuff we’ve survived. I am definitely older and wiser. But letting go is about understanding that there is more than wisdom that comes from the stuff we survive, there are scars, and negative thoughts, and fears. When we let go, that’s the stuff we let go of, so that we can be older and wiser without being weighted by the past – we can be joyful.
Somehow it all came together in one of those AHA moments. I remembered a name I hadn’t been able to recall for thirty-nine years:
Kathie had made me realize I had a problem with this police officer because I froze up during an interview on her Inspiration in Action Show. As I related the details of the accident that shattered my life, I explained that the six foot tall police officer dove into the snowbank and saved himself, leaving me to be mutilated and thrown twenty feet through the air.
Compassion incarnate, Kathie said, “Well thank God he wasn’t hurt.” In that moment my reaction was completely emotional: what about me? I was abandoned and hurt. He was supposed to save me and he didn’t. How could he do that to me? As I lay on the pavement, broken and bleeding, he didn’t come to check on me. He didn’t even call an ambulance. After the accident, for all the months I was in the hospital, he didn’t come once. I completely froze in the interview, swamped with my bitterness and anger. Reeling in panic and pain, my head spun with negative thoughts that made no actual sense. The second half of the interview lacked any of the real me, as I forced myself to continue. Even afterwards, I managed to suppress what had happened, and avoid thinking about it.
But now I get it. Somehow, during that Refresh Your Passion talk about courage in letting go of the negatives and the pain and the drama, it came together for me. I remembered using a twelve year old as a cleaver-shield. I suddenly realized that the cop had done the same thing: acted on instinct to survive. How could I possibly blame him when my flinch had shoved my own granddaughter in front of me? I couldn’t. And in that moment, I was free: free of the bitterness, the anger and the pain I had carried for thirty-nine years. Free to remember his name. Free to realize that he was in shock, probably ashamed of his failure as I was ashamed of my failure to face the cleaver. He’s human, just like me.
My greatest shame, protecting myself with my own granddaughter, released me from a huge pain so that I could finally forgive and let go. I can forgive him. I can forgive me. We have survival instincts. We react automatically.
Everyone has had that moment when they froze. Everyone has had that moment when they were swamped by negative emotions or thoughts. Everyone has avoidance as a coping mechanism. It may show up as messy accounting or uncertain branding. It may show up as avoiding promotion or lack of confidence in important areas. We know our strengths and we know our fears, because our fears trip us up.
As a businessperson you have a choice. You can be tripped up by your fears and uncertainties, or you can overcome them. What you may not realize is that the freedom from those paralyzing moments and swamping emotions is in releasing the pain of the past. It is in paying the dues of our wisdom in letting go, in forgiveness.
Be professional. Own it. Let it go.
Need help? Here’s one of the tools I use. It’s a meditation provided by Patricia Wall of TTLOinc
It’s a powerful tool I use regularly.Both personally and in business.