Imagine, if you will, that you go throughout your day with a ball of yarn. As you go through your day, you unwind a little more yarn. This is magical yarn and never tangles as you unspool it. You are able to walk freely as you leave yarn behind you at every step.
Each time you have an interaction of any kind, imagine asking the person (or experience) to hold some yarn. They gently hold the yarn you brought to them and allow to continue on your way, spooling a little more yarn with each step you take. You move from your child who hugged on their way to school to get into your car. As you drive away, your spool of yarn continues to unwind – you hold the ball while your child holds the end of the yarn.
Once you get to work, each person with whom you speak holds a piece of yarn which is still connected to your all of yarn (and is also connected to your child). Imagine a sort of cat’s cradle being built out of yarn as you wind your way through your day. Remember cat’s cradle?
Just like the yarn, you are connected now to each person and each person is connected to each other, though they may not be able to see who else is holding yarn. Now let’s make things interesting.
Let’s pretend that if the interaction is positive, the yarn remains flexible. The flexible and supple yarn allows you to freely move on to the next part of your day and have easy conversations with the next people you meet. The flexible yarn never tangles, never trips you up, never gets in your way. The yarn is still there. You are aware of the yarn and know that it is there, but it isn’t a problem.
And, to keep things interesting, let’s pretend that if the interaction is negative, the yarn becomes stiff. This could be an experience where you became irritated or impatient. Maybe someone said something that offended you. Perhaps things didn’t work out like you wanted. Whatever the case is, you have decided the experience was negative. This means the yarn becomes stiff and inflexible.
As you hold the stiff yarn along with all the threads of flexible yarn, it becomes difficult to move between one person and the next, difficult to move between one experience and the next. The stiff yarn gets in your way. It’s uncomfortable. You can feel it pulling, tugging and pushing against the ball of yarn in your hand and it is limiting your movement. What’s more, everyone who is holding a piece of your yarn also becomes aware of the stiff yarn somewhere in the line.
But the impact to you is what is most significant. You can’t easily turn around because of the stiff yarn. It’s difficult to hand someone a flexible piece of yarn because it’s a lot of work to hold the stiff yarn. It feels like everyone knows about the stiff yarn you are trying to hold. And maybe they do. They can sense the resistance created by the stiff yarn.
The scenario literally plays out day after day. Each time you interact with someone, you are leaving an impression on them. You also leave an impact on the people you meet as well. There really are strings attached. Energetic strings.
Sometimes, the interactions you have with people will create a need for you to go back and physically smooth the stiff yarn. By that, I simply mean, you may need to go offer forgiveness, or an apology or a kind word. You may need to look at something in a more loving way. One way or another, you’ll have a desire to soften. If that happens, please trust that desire. And act on it. It takes humility and vulnerability. It won’t always be easy. But it will be worth it. Just by putting the intention of softening into the universe you will feel a shift.
Other times, even though you know deep inside you that you need to soften; apologize, forgive or offer a kind word – you will find it difficult. This happens to us all. In that moment where you realize you don’t want to apologize or forgive, you can be assured that the string between you and the other person or experience is firm, stiff and completely inflexible. You can also be sure that that stiff yarn is impacting the rest of your relationships and your ability to move freely between one experience and the next. The unwillingness to forgive or apologize is literally and figuratively restrictive.
I’m not writing this because I got it out of a book: although I’ve read tons and tons about forgiveness. I’m not writing this because an organized religion said it was the right things to do, although: although most organized religions do teach forgiveness. In fact, most people would agree forgiveness in general is a very good things. I’m writing this because I have lived it. Just like you have.
I understand what it’s like to be angry. I’ve been the one who held unforgiveness in my heart. I’ve held resentments that got in my way and tainted relationships. I’ve been the one who restricted my own movement and relationships because of an unwillingness to forgive. Here’s what I learned.
Simply deciding you are willing to forgive is a HUGE step. The universe immediately honors your intention. Something shifts. You may not feel forgiveness in that instant, but you will move toward it. You will feel a bit lighter. Each time you become aware of any stiffness like in the yarn, make the choice to forgive. The yarn will soften slightly, that is, your heart will soften. Make the choice as often and as long as you need to do. Choose every day, every week, every year to forgive. One day, you’ll wake up surprised. You won’t hold unforgivness in your heart. You’ll hold only love and forgiveness. And in that moment of forgiveness, you become free. You will be able to move again, breath again, navigate again.
Keep in mind that sometimes the person you need to offer the most forgiveness is yourself. Holding resentments toward yourself will poison you just as surely as holding negative feelings toward another person. Like Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better”. Be gentle with yourself. Consider it a lesson learned and take steps to avoid doing that in the future. Then… take a deep breath and make the decision to forgive yourself.
Are there strings attached? Certainly. Stings of love for people we love and with whom we have positive interactions are unbreakable and help sustain us. But if those strings/yarn/cords aren’t positive, they hold us back. They keep us from moving forward. The strings stick us in place. They impact our relationships and experiences. Forgiving isn’t for the other person as much as it for you.
Buddha said something like, “Holding on to anger (resentment) is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. So today, I invite you to begin the process. Decide you are willing to forgive…. and by doing so, you can completely change how those strings attached affect you. Forgive and you become free.