A question from one of my favorite meditator friends:
I read the Five Fingers and they sound great! Something I have a hard time getting past is forgiving others when they don’t care. They won’t acknowledge what’s happened, and certainly don’t care if you forgive them. How do you get past that?
A fantastic question. This wonderful meditator is referring to the FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom‘s 3rd finger, “Forgive yourself and others.” The short and quick answer is to accept reality, let go of stories, make life adjustments, and take care of yourself.
Sometimes people are the embodiment of a thoughtless chaotic storm. They are a storm of indifference that sweeps through your life, cause mayhem, and then hopefully moves on. If a person is truly indifferent, I accept the chaotic storm as a natural yet untrustworthy phenomena.
What stories are you telling yourself about this storm? When I observe thoughts in my mind like, “But he did this”, “She said that”, I recognize the thoughts as just stories about a storm. The storm doesn’t care about what stories are in my mind.
If a story persists, I change the story in the mind to say “The storm did this. The storm did that.” At that point, I realize I am dealing with nature as it is. Like a real thunderstorm, conditions came together to create the storm that is in front of you. It’s true that some of those conditions are based on actions from others. However, it all comes down to conditions and nature. Let go of any useless stories that are saying the same thing over and over in your mind.
Make Life Adjustments
So now, I have come to terms with the storm that I have faced or am facing. For this thunderstorm, I shall protect myself and loved ones. If the storm is over, I shall clean up the damage done to my life. If I can create different conditions so as to make the storm less likely, I shall. However, most of the time the wholesome and mindful action is to do Lovingkindness meditations, protect what I can, and stay clear of the storm’s chaotic and damaging influence.
To help keep perspective, the meditation I like to do is called “Anger: The Big Lie” by Sharon Salzberg in the 10% Happier meditation app. In that meditation, Sharon shares that there are lots of forces and variables at work. Being mad at someone doesn’t help you. As Sharon would put it, staying mad is “not onward leading.”
There’s a peace that comes from letting go of the useless thoughts and emotions. There’s harmony in coming back to a mindful awareness of existence.
Take Care of Yourself
For those people who are chronic indifferent storms of chaos, I drop those relationships where I can. Although you can make a slight influence on the conditions which form such a storm, you are also potentially fighting nature itself. Yes, you are giving up something by dropping a relationship, but you are gaining space to let goodness come into your life.
If it’s not possible to drop those relationships, deal with the situation like the bad weather. Make sure you take care of yourself first so that you are strong enough to take care of others as needed. Get regular exercise, good nutrition, and meditation into your life. All of this is your foundation which will help you and those around you weather any future storms in life.