We have the choice to either accept or resist life's flow, but it is still always moving. Negative events can lead to a desire for revenge, but this sets us up for difficulty in life. We can strive to create a better future without undoing our past.
We often try to "undo" our past by pushing against it, but this only locks us into repetitive patterns, keeps the past alive, and often leads to our worst fears being realized. We become bonded to our past and carry it into the future, but this approach can be automatic and reflexive, rather than helping us break away. We often try to control our lives to prevent the same things from happening again, but this prevents us from fully inhabiting our present.
Instead of pushing against our past, we can work to redeem it and find the positivity in it, so that we can live our ideal future with the less ideal parts of our past included. We have the choice to accept our past and learn to transmute the pain and suffering into something positive. We can flow with life, instead of fighting against it, striving for redemption instead of revenge.
No matter what happens to us, there is always an opportunity to make something good out of something bad. We can resolve our conflicts with the past by looking for the opportunities to redeem them, seeing the good and the positive in them. We can move on when these experiences have fulfilled their purpose and said all they need to say.
Asking ourselves how we can redeem our past experiences can help us find the positive and allow us to move forward.
- We have the choice to either accept or resist life’s flow.
- Rather than trying to undo the past, we can strive to redeem it by looking for opportunities to make something positive out of it.
- By allowing our experiences to fulfill their purpose and say all they need to say, we can move on to our ideal future.
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The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
Revenge vs Redemption
[0:00:20] John Coleman: With enough awareness, with enough self awareness, I think we can all agree that there's a flow to life, especially looked at over the long term with awareness, with self awareness, with paying attention, with being grounded in the present moment, being grounded in the truth, being grounded in what is. I think this obviousness of there being a flow in life can help but emerge, can't help but be something we see everywhere very clearly in our life. Life is happening, life is happening all the time. Life has a direction, life has a momentum, life has a carrying factor that brings us along. And when we notice this, when we see this inherent flow of life, we have the choice in how we work with this flow. Very simply we have the choice of whether we're going with this flow or we're resisting this flow. We have the choice if we're embracing this flow or somehow rejecting and blocking this flow and regardless of how much we're going with it or trying to go against it, this flow is still going. It never stops. These currents of our life are always moving in much the same way. We always have the free will, we always have the autonomy, we always have the choice of whether we're moving with this flow or not. One of the difficult things about working with this flow of life is in the interpretation and integration of what happens to us, especially when events of our life carry really strong feelings, especially really strong negative feelings. It can be really challenging to feel like this flow is a good thing. It can be really difficult to welcome this flow, to relax into it, to move with it, to be involved in it. It can feel like a lot of things that are happening in our life, that the overall momentum of our life needs to somehow be controlled and corrected, needs to somehow be something we work to undo as much as we work to do. But in my opinion, we set ourselves up for a really challenging life.
[0:02:53] John Coleman: When we get involved with counter force to what is, when we get overly involved with pushing against, trying to control, trying to change, trying to make things be a certain way rather than accepting and integrating what is. When things happen to us, especially when negative things happen to us, it can be really easy to adopt kind of a sense of revenge, not revenge and the sense of trying to diminish or destroy something or someone else, but the idea of trying to completely undo, trying to erase, trying to overwhelm what's happened to us. And usually we do this by endeavoring to do the exact opposite. We can do this through our actions, we can do this through our ideas, over simply trying to prove something, through trying to disprove something else. Perhaps we've experienced some sort of pain, some sort of failure, some setback, some loss. It can be really easy for our natural instinct to just be, to try to try to do the opposite, to try to intentionally through our will control our own behavior, to do the opposite of whatever's happened to us. Again, this sets up the dynamic of counter force in our life. This sets up the dynamic of where we're trying to move forward while still carrying elements of the past with us. In some ways we're trying to move forward and backwards at the same time, trying to create a different future by undoing elements of our past. We're trying to get to the life we want through undoing the life we've had. And again, these can be very easy patterns to slip into, especially if we look at our own behavior as falling short of our own ideals. Not matching up with the person we actually know ourselves to be deep down on the inside, not being a fit with the person that we want to be, not doing the things we actually think we should be doing. Not treating people as well as we think they should be treated, not engaging in things that feel like are truly right for us, are truly part of our own growth, part of our own development, part of our own wholesome idealized expression. And we can have lots of voices and influences in our lives coaching us in this direction that can simply say whatever has happened to us, that if we can just overwhelm these experience through the opposite behavior, we can start forcefully moving in the opposite direction, then we can overcome these quote unquote shortcomings or failures. We can undo this pain, we can erase this loss.
[0:06:01] John Coleman: But I think if we really sit with these feelings, we really entertain these ideas, we really play them out. We realize that this is us pushing against what is. This is us resisting life, this is us casting judgments. We may not actually have all the information, we may not be looking at things as fully and completely as we think we are. That all of our effort to try to undo the past, in some ways, just keeps us locked into that past, keeps us bonded to it, keeps us connected to it, and doesn't really allow us to fully change. Because as long as we are pushing against something, as long as we're trying to undo something, we're still tied to it. In some ways we're still actually doing it, we're still participating in it, even though we're trying to do the opposite through our own pushing against, through our own resistance. We're judging things that have happened as unwanted and thus trying to push them down, trying to make them go away, trying to make them not be. But the truth is they already are. These things have already happened. And when we resist them, we cut off the opportunity to actually learn and grow from them. We miss the opportunity to learn some lessons. We miss the opportunity to gain some clarity because we're so busy pushing against what is. This is where the idea of baggage comes from, where the idea of being damaged comes from, of going through our life, going forward through our life, dragging elements of the past with us even if they may not be fully conscious, may not be top of mind, they're still there. That past is still there and it's still influencing our behavior, our thoughts, our feelings moving forward that we're going into the future, carrying our past with us, trying to undo something, trying to undo some sense of pain, some sense of loss, some unacceptable vulnerability that we experienced in the past.
[0:08:25] John Coleman: And these kinds of behaviors can really make us stuck, keep us stuck, can really lock us into repetitive patterns seemingly doing the same thing over and over and over again and thus keeping that past alive. That is kind of a funny paradox that we experience things that we definitely don't want to experience again. When we're working with a sense of undoing, a sense of revenge, a sense of forcefully overcoming the past through trying to only do the opposite, that past is kept alive, is kept present. That past can keep showing up over and over and over again because on some level by pushing against it, some part of us expects it to. It's not that we want it to happen, it's that we have some sort of fear of it happening again. And so we build up these defenses, we build up these barriers, we build up these counter forces in an attempt to try to keep this past from happening again. But because we're pushing against our past so hard, we often find that past just repeating over and over and over again. And unfortunately we find some of these fears realized. We find ourselves experiencing the exact same things perhaps over and over and over again that we really don't want to, that we really want to break away from, that we really want to be free from. But because of our own involvement in our past, our own bondage to our past, our future becomes bonded to our past as well. We continue living through our past in the present and carry that into our future. In these responses, this approach can be really easy, can be really automatic, can feel reflexive, that of course if something's happened to us that we really never want to happen again or even if we're living a present that we really want to stop as soon as possible, it makes sense that we would push against it. It makes sense we would use our force, use our will, use everything in our power and in our control to prevent that from happening. But in doing so, in pushing against, we create a counter force to the forward progression of our life that because of our grip on the past, we can never really fully move into our future and we can never really fully inhabit our present because we're not actually present. Our awareness to some extent is still rooted in the past.
[0:11:24] John Coleman: We're holding on. We've let this past event or these series of past events to be an anchor to prevent us from really moving forward, really getting the freedom and the liberation that we actually want. We erect these resistances as obstacles to living the life we actually want. We're not fully involved in our life of doing because we're at least still partially involved in a life of undoing. But of course, we don't have to do this. We don't have to fight so hard. We don't have to grip so hard. We don't have to hold on so tightly. We don't have to control and curate our life so perfectly that no matter what's happened to us, no matter what, we're trying really hard to prevent from ever happening again. We can let go, we don't have to let our past dictate and dominate our present or our future. But if we're pushing against our past, that's often what ends up happening. That our past becomes this rubric that we compare our current and envisioned future experiences against. And it can easily become the deciding factor in what we do and what we don't do that we can develop patterns in response to our past, which then makes us stuck, makes us committed to a course of action. Because it seems to be undoing something that's happened to us where there really seems to be preventing what has happened to us from happening again. And these dynamics happen because when we're overly holding onto our past, there really splits us in two.
[0:13:22] John Coleman: That really conditions our decisions because they have to be run through this filter of not recreating the past or some extent trying to undo the past, that by holding our past away from ourselves, we're not really moving into the future from a sense of wholeness. We've really split ourselves in two of this past, us, this past experience that we're trying to undo or overwhelm, and that colors both our present moment awareness as well as our decisions on what we do going forward. It can't not help to. But there's another way of working with our past. It's another way of working with our uncomfortable present. We don't have to undo it, we don't have to get revenge against it, we can actually work to redeem it, we can actually work to make these things that have happened to us or these things that are happening to us a part of us. We can look at what's happened to us as well as what is happening to us and where we want to actually go, from a sense of wholeness, from a sense of completeness. We can't actually integrate all the things that have happened to us and move forward in wholeness. We can include everything that has happened to us in both our present and our future. We can drop our pushing against. We can fully accept the things that have happened to us. And no matter how uncomfortable they were, no matter how unpleasant of an experience that was, no matter how much suffering we endured, there is still positivity we can create out of that. There's still something greater we can attain through the inclusion of whatever has happened to us. And by working through a sense of redemption, we can actually work past these things that we truly want to let go. Truly, we want to be part of our past and leave them there to be able to take no matter what's happened to us and find the positive in it, find the good in it, find the growth, find the development, find the wisdom, find the lesson, and then move forward.
[0:15:43] John Coleman: To not go through life like we're constantly having to control and push against that. We can live our ideal future, including the less ideal parts of our past that we can find the value, we can utilize the value and integrate that into ourselves and allow it to not be such a dominant part of us, not be such a controlling part of us. We can relax that tension, we can abstain from that conflict. We can actually move through what's happened to us, through allowing it to be a part of who we are. We release it and we're liberated from it by learning to include it. And the opposite is also true that we're held in bondage by it, by not including it, by holding it away from ourselves, by working so tirelessly against it. And we have the choice which path we pursue. We have the choice of what we do with everything that's happened to us. We have the choice of what approach we take. We have the choice of what attitudes we adopt. We have the choice of what learning we take and accept and integrate. And no matter what happens to us, there's something in it that can be useful. There's something in it that can be positive. And this is our work walking through life to learn, to transmute the pain and the suffering to something positive, something worthy, something worthwhile, something helpful. This isn't always easy.
[0:17:31] John Coleman: Often it takes a lot of time if the pain and the loss is still active, often we have to endure and get through that first before we can extract anything of real positive future value. But we can. We can learn to fully accept and integrate everything that's happened to us and find the change that we want to make through that acceptance. We can find the change that we want to create in our life through that integration. Because on a moment by moment basis, the ease and the comfort that we move through life with is directly relative to how much we're working with life rather than against it. This especially goes with our past. This especially goes with what's happened to us. We don't have to fight our life. We don't have to fight with life. We can lay our weapons down, we can suspend our umbrage and our quarrels, we can lower our defenses. And we can do all of this by actually trying to find the positive, trying to find the positivity, trying to find the lessons, trying to find the growth, allowing our past to inform and enable the present and the future that we actually want to live. We can find a way to fully integrate and include all parts of ourselves and our lives while at the same time flowing with life in our fullness, moving toward what we actually want rather than using so much energy and being so busy trying to push away or push down what we don't. This is how real change happens. This is how real transformation happens is through this idea of redemption, through this idea of transmuting something from quote unquote bad to quote unquote good. Because these ideas of good and bad are merely perspective, are merely ideas.
[0:19:48] John Coleman: And we get to choose. We get to choose whether we look for the good or we look for the bad. We get to choose if we push against or flow with. We get to choose if we strive for redemption or we're going for revenge. We choose our own polarity, the positive or the negative. It's always up to us. And when something negative happens to us that can be a very difficult shift to find the positive within it. But that's our work. No matter what happens to us, everything is useful. And by labeling something is absolutely negative in the past, in the present and for all time. We never get the chance to actually see the positive in it. We never get the chance for it to deliver its value because we're so convinced of its valuelessness, we're so convinced that there's nothing good. But are we sure? Are we really sure? Have we tried?
[0:20:58] John Coleman: And so, no matter what it is, any sort of loss or pain or suffering that we've experienced, there's always value in looking for the opportunity of redemption, looking for the opportunity to make something good out of something bad. To use this awareness as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than seizing the opportunity of resistance, of just getting stuck in the past, stuck in pattern, stuck in stagnation, stuck in conflict. We can resolve our conflicts with the past by looking for the opportunities to redeem them, looking for the good in them. And it doesn't mean everything about these experiences will instantaneously become wonderful. Suffering is still suffering, pain is still pain, damage is still damage, hurt is still hurt. But it doesn't do any good to simply get locked into only the negative aspects of any experience. That when we're only including the negative aspects of what happens to us. We're never really able to grow because that growth is waiting for that awareness of the positivity, that change is incumbent and seeing the good, seeing the possible, seeing the new. And when we're so caught up in the negative, those are things we simply can't see. And again, this is our choice. This is an attitude, this is an approach, this is an openness. But it's really vital. It's really vital to allow these past experiences to be experienced, to be felt, to be known, to be understood and to be allowed to be valuable, to be allowed to deliver the ultimate message that they're trying to deliver. And when they have, we can move on. When these experiences have fulfilled their usefulness, then there's no more reason for them to remain active.
[0:23:11] John Coleman: If they've said all they need to say, there's really no reason for them to continue to try to say anything. They're done, they're complete and we can move on because of this completion. We can let them flow through us fully and then be done with them. And this is our choice. And in my opinion, it's a really useful choice that no matter what has happened to us or what is happening to us, to ask ourselves how can I redeem this? Where is the positive in this? Even if it isn't immediately obvious or even immediately available, continue to hold this attitude, continue to move forward from this place of always looking for opportunities for redemption, allowing that redemption to spur and fuel our growth and our progress, to keep us out of stagnation, to keep us out of reliving patterns. We don't really want to relive anymore because we tend to find what we look for, we tend to see what we focus on, we tend to experience what we expect to in all these qualities. We can modify ourselves, we can change our perspective, we can change what we're looking for, we can change our understanding of what we're looking at anytime we want. And when this change happens, oftentimes that's what actually creates change in our life. Oftentimes that's what brings this redemption forward. The best life is not lived in resistance. The best life is lived in acceptance of what has been, what is and what we desire to be. And when we go into life with an attitude in the spirit of redemption, we can find our way to fullness so we can find our way to completeness. Because through redemption will actually allow all parts of ourselves, all parts of our lives to be included too.