Lesson 12: Holding On to the Past


Lesson 12: Holding On to the Past

Oprah believes that a universal issue for so many of us is that we are holding on to the hurt and pain of our past.  In this class, five sisters have been entrenched in a bitter feud for years and find ways to move on.  Getting on with the “now” can only be accomplished by letting go of the past.  Some insight from Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 12….
Aired: 10/25/2011
Today’s Question:  What memories of the past still dominate your thinking?  What do you need to let go of?

Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes:  Oprah says, “It’s not just letting go of the past, it’s all bigger than we can ever imagine.”  We all want a  better life.  How do we get there?  

Are we living in what could have, what should have, what we wished could have been?  Living in the past is one of the biggest detriments.

Five sisters’ relationship went from a simple misunderstanding to a full scale war.   The conflict was affecting the sisters emotionally, physically and spiritually.   When we see defensiveness, that person is in pain and needs love and acceptance.  It took a major tragedy – the loss of one sister’s son – to bring them to wake up.    18 years later the sisters reconciled.   Jackie’s oldest son was dying of AIDS and a sister, Vicki took him in.  In order for her to see her son, she had to be in Vicki’s home.   The reconciliation had begun.

When we resort to name-calling, it means that we are out of control and we’re using that to bring more value to ourselves.

The only person we ever have any control over is ourselves.  We have a choice in how we see the situation, or we can remove ourselves from the situation but we  cannot change the other person.

Whatever energy we are carrying from the past, we carry into the future and that energy colors everything we do and experience.  It blocks us from being all that we were meant to be.

Forgiving is necessary to let go of the past.  It doesn’t mean that we say “it’s ok”.  Forgiveness is acceptance, not approval.

All of life is about “waking up”.

When the Oprah Show first started talking about men having affairs, women in the audience were adament that they would never put up with it, they would leave.  That attitude gradually changed over the next few years – in the 90’s.   Oprah says that she has discovered that men don’t cheat because of someone who is more attractive, smarter or…. He cheats because of how another person makes him feel.

In 2008, Psychiatrist Gary Newman, found that men cheat because they feel underappreciated, unimportant, not admired.  Men want to feel valued.

Unless the other man (or woman)  completely understands and expresses remorse for what they have done, it’s very difficult for the betrayed person to get over it.   Both parties need to sit down and talk about it openly.  Give yourself permission to deal with the issue.  It takes time to build trust again.

Not everyone can get over an affair.  You need to decide for yourself  if you can or can’t get over an affair.  If you decide that you can – then really get over it.  Deal with it and let it go.  You have to deal with the past or it will continue to show up in your relationships, your health, in every aspect of your life. If you can’t get over the affair, then move on from the relationship.  Don’t live in between.  There needs to be emotional closure.

On losing a loved one…with Gary Zukav… Oprah says…It’s not just about letting go of the past.  It’s about the ultimate lesson for us as human beings.  I am not my body, I am not my circumstances, I am not what everything looks like.  I really am a higher level of being and consciousness that is a soul.  My personality is not my soul.  My personality is here to serve my soul”.

We, our lives, are bigger than what it looks like.

A couple lost a new preterm baby, a twin.  They were both born perfect but on the third day after their birth, Ryan had a brain bleed.  He could not save the baby.  The parents went into a tailspin, were having a difficult time not letting this tragedy take over in their lives.

Gary Zukav counsels -“Look at Ryan as a soul, like everyone on this earth, that left this earth when it chose, then you will have a different perspective.  You will be able to see the gifts that this soul gave you during it’s short stay on this earth.  You will reach a place in your life where you are grateful that this soul chose to be with you for however short a time.  If you do not, you will live your life feeling that a tragedy has occurred.  Whenever you see your other son growing up, you will say Ryan should be here.  You will be placing a burden on your other son, the twin, because no matter what he does, what he accomplishes, he will be causing Mommy pain.  If you look at Ryan as a great soul who voluntarily entered the earth school and voluntarily left it in, you will begin to fathom and appreciate the interaction that you had with that soul and you will be able to receive the gifts that this soul came to earth to give to you and your family.  And if you do not, then you will continue to be turning away from those gifts.  You will be denying the very wealth of wisdom and compassion that was offered to you by this soul. ”  The soul is a great deal more than just a personality.  Interact soul-to-soul.  Recognize the power of the soul.

Many others were impacted by this story.

Oprah says that this story gives us a glimpse a notion that you are bigger than your body and your personality.   Oprah called this a holy moment in the room that day.   Oprah says it reminds her to stop and and think about her own soul and everyone around her, causes her to just for a moment to disconnect from the egos and personalities around her,  and to recognize that it is all bigger than we can ever imagine.

“You are not your circumstances.  You are a higher level of being and consciousness that is a soul.”  If we think life is only what we can see, then we are missing the whole point.

Oprah encourages us…”When you lose somebody in the physical form, the formless becomes an angel that you know”.

“Life is much bigger than just a body.  When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one…sense the presence of their soul, which is always with you, instead of the personality that is gone.”

Oprah quoting Iyanla Vanzant…”You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people.  But until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed.  You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life.  You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick you hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Oprah says…”The sooner we can let go of the past, the sooner we can get on with the “now”, our daily life.  If we don’t let it go, it becomes a wall, a barrier, and it prevents us from the vibrancy, the aliveness, the glory that our life should be. ”

Oprah’s Lifeclass
Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 12: Holding on to the past
Oprah’s Webcast Lesson 12: Holding on to the past
Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes
Today’s Lifeclass Question

Thoughts…Things I learned today


I want to know God’s thoughts…the rest are details.  Albert Einstein

the way God thinks…
Without force
No one is excluded
Always giving – never expects back

We come from the same place – the way of Tao is a return trip.  We are all coming back.  Full circle.  In everything we say, do and live.

We shall not cease from exploration but at the end of all of our exploring will be to return to the place from which we originated and know it for the first time.  C.S Lewis.   No beginning and no end, no boundaries.  Just is.

The Tao that can be named is not the Tao….Labels
Once you label me, you negate me and now I must live up to that expectation.  Labeling creates conflict.

Those who speak do not know.  Those who know do not speak.

Does what I own own me?  Get rid of as much of the 80% that I don’t use as possible.

How does nature act?  The softest thing overcomes the hardest thing.

Rigidity and stiffness is the companion of death
Flexibility is the companion of life

I believed something on Monday
Tuesday happened
On Wednesday, I had learned something that led me to believe something totally different than I did on Monday

Ego – (E)dge (G)od (O)ut  A collection of ideas that we carry around
I am what I have
I am what I do
I am what other people think of me – my reputation

I’m already connected to everything I need – I simply need to align myself to it.

Give-Give-Give – Practice benevolence
Be grateful
Live my life in a state of awe of my surroundings
Live joyfully

Nature teaches:
No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.

I want to live like water.

60,000 thoughts every day.  Are they the same as yesterday?
Are these thoughts true?

Forgiveness – the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it…

Give up blame

Living life conflict-free.  How to live with no enemies.
Become more flexible and open

Self Value – How could that which is perfect, that which is divine, make anything imperfect?

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday
Interview with Wayne Dyer

My Daughter – My Friend


As an adult, my daughter is also one of my best friends.  And she’s an awesome friend – and daughter as well.   We have a rare relationship that I cherish.  She’s very bright, funny, deeply caring and sensitive, has an off-the-wall sense of humor that makes people want to be around her.  I want to be like that!  Where did she get it?

She’s very successful in her business, in fact #1 agent in her company for over 12 years of the 16 she’s been in business.  We enjoy each other and spend a lot of time together,  know each other very well –  we finish each others sentences.   We usually slide  from mother and daughter roles into dear friend roles and back again very easily.

This is a confusing moment and right now I’m not so sure.  She’s in a very fragile state going thru a painful divorce.  With that, she’s digging deeply within herself, working thru her pain and trying to understand her part in the breakup.  It’s a very painful process for her. Delving into her past has brought up childhood issues and of course I’m included in her evaluation of her past, I’m sure.  She talks about painful experiences with her Dad, but I feel she is careful to protect my feelings.  There are almost certainly some issues that we need to talk about when the time is right.  Maybe we’ll talk these thru as we encounter them in our daily lives.  I don’t know.   Mother-daughter, friends….forgiveness.  How will it play out.  Is there anything to play?

Over the years, I’ve been nothing short of shocked at how my chidren have perceived events that happened in our pasts.  We’ve all talked, cried, laughed, and eventually worked thru issues as they’ve arisen.   Forgiving – lots of practice here!  All three of my children are very caring and sensitive to others.  One of my sons is very quiet and keeps things within himself.  My other son and I talk with each other about anything and everything.  I feel confident that we’ve hashed out all of our differences and I feel certain that we’re in a very good place in our relationship.  With my “Mother” hat on, I feel very comfortable about my relationship with all three of my children….most of the time.

In my daughter’s new and very painful situation, I’m realizing she is sometimes pretty guarded.   She’s even more sensitive to others than I realized.  She tells me that she’s discovering she has a difficult time being vulnerable, a very difficult time.  I’ve know that in our relationship – I just didn’t have a name for it.   I’ve known, as well, that I have a very difficult time letting myself be vulnerable.  No wonder that she’s struggling with that.   Is this a human condition? Like Pema Chodron says (I’m quoting from memory?)….”out of a class of 600, 590 will be struggling with their self-value”.   Are these pretty universal issues?  No excuse….  just wondering.

The ripple effect is touching me.  I’m trying to see my part in teaching her to protect herself, that she can’t trust.  Herself? Me? Life?  Many times over the years I’ve tortured myself with my failures as a parent.  I was pretty clueless.  “Doing my best” just doesn’t cut it when it causes pain or fear in a child.   I want a “Do-Over” with what I know now – about myself and life!  I know better now, and I could do better!

I recognize that she emulates me in many ways.  I take that as a compliment.  But I also recognize, sense, that sometimes she grits her teeth and bears….and whatever I’m doing is such a part of who I am that I can’t identify what I’ve said or done.    And I start trying to analyze.   I’m sure I’ve also taught her what she doesn’t want to be – sometimes.   Yikes!

My Beloved Daughter is on a mission.  It’s a painful journey right now but she’s finding her way.   She’s a joyous person, loves adventure, fun, learning, doing.  She lives out loud.  She loves people.

I love that her first comment after an appointment with a client is, “Oh, I just love them!”  And she means it.

I’m so blessed to have her for my daughter – and my friend.

What Does It Mean, Anyway?


So many Oprah shows featuring forgiveness… so many touching lessons.  I can’t even imagine that people survive some of their circumstances, let alone forgive the perpetrators who have caused them so much pain – the drunk drivers, the molesters, those who did dreadful things to others while using drugs, the murderers….

I’m a PK –  Preacher’s Kid, grew up in a small town in Oregon.  My parents were divorced – a sad, ugly divorce (aren’t they all!), the talk of our small town.  My father married my mother’s best friend following their divorce.  And yes, I have trust issues – another story.  Needless to say, there was a lot of anger, pain and a huge need for forgiveness – over and over again, and for many years.  What did forgiveness mean?  What would I have to give up if I were to forgive.

My first marriage failed – for some very valid reasons.  How could I ever forgive my ex for some of the things he did.  How could I ever forgive myself?    What did forgiveness even mean?  I didn’t know.   I made so many mistakes raising my children.  How could they ever forgive me?  How could I forgive myself when I realized my mistakes.  Painful, very painful.

I’m 71 years old and over the years I’ve needed to forgive and ask for forgiveness, many times.  But what does forgiveness really mean anyway?

Somewhere along the way, I learned that forgiveness does not mean I’m excusing the person or the incident – saying it was OK, it means  letting go, letting God, not holding a grudge, keeping my boundaries but not building up walls.   It means not trying to punish myself or someone else.  Letting go of blame.

I learned from Oprah’s guest that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past will ever be different – acceptance?  Acknowledging and releasing?   Yes!  To me, part of forgiveness is releasing fear – fear that the same thing will happen again.   I can learn a lesson from the experience and not allow it to happen again.  I know better.

My mantra is “When I know better, I do better”.   Maya Angelou.  I just love her.