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Center for Enlightened Leadership

My Mirrors
By Kathleen Alfiero

  Kathleen Alfiero

Kathleen Alfiero

There isn’t anyone for me to forgive. As the creator of my life, I invite into my experience the people, opportunities, and circumstances that match my thoughts and beliefs. The people who I worked hard to forgive are now at the top of my list of those whom I can’t thank enough for helping me to become who I am.

It’s a relief for me to know that I am the only one responsible for my happiness. I’ve changed my story about being wronged by others. I see the value in the challenges that come my way. No matter what, I can choose to see the good in all that happens.

A few years ago, I spent quite a bit of time talking with my friends about how I was abused when I was young. My friends shared their own stories of hurt and mistreatment. Why were we focusing on this aspect of our lives? Because we thought that we could help each other to feel better by getting over (and first, by going through) those things that we thought were holding us back from feeling joy. Reviewing our past negative experiences would help us to really forgive our offenders. We’d feel better once we let go of our anger.

In the end, our strategy didn’t work. I didn’t feel better, and I don’t think my friends did either. Although we had good intentions, we were wallowing in our sad stories. We often laughed together trying to take life less seriously, but I must admit that I still held onto some negative emotions. I had more than one anxiety attack to prove it.

It’s the tough times that have inspired me to be more aware of the choice to live without blame and to let go of trying to control anyone but myself. Now, when someone says something to me that I don’t like, I consider how what they’ve said mirrors my own thoughts. Usually I discover my own self-doubt. Without exception, I can find the crack in my thinking that is a magnet for their unkindness. I don’t blame myself; I am more amused and delighted that it’s all up to me. It’s just another chance to make lemonade out of lemons.

When I was harassed by an administrator at the school where I worked, I read books about how to love one’s enemies. If I could love her in spite of her mean yet clever manipulations, then I’d be the person I wanted to be. I actually felt love for her one time when, with a slight grin, she gave me a ridiculous research assignment to prove to her that I was worth my pay. (I admit that there was another time that I saw the cartoon version of me throttling her—it wasn’t pretty!)

I can honestly say that I feel unconditional love for her now when I think of her. I uncovered a belief I held that attracted her to me. I thought I would pay somehow if I dared to “shine” and be all that I am. When I think of this person who affected my life, I remember one of her best qualities. I thank her for nudging me to move on. I took a leap of faith and resigned because I didn’t want to struggle. Immediately, I felt free and with that freedom came my creative ideas for a new and exciting way to continue my work on behalf of kids.

I now accept and appreciate how my childhood trauma helped me to be a caring and kind person. I was good to the young people I met while I was working as a high school counselor. When the kids came to me to sort out their own hurts, I didn’t feel sorry for them; instead, I was inspired. I learned that it was best to listen only a few minutes to their problems, and then together we considered how their circumstances clarified how they wanted things to be.

Instead of thinking about the people who challenged me all those years ago, I am thankful for the experiences that help me to love more deeply. They mirror my intent to live with ease and flow. I love not trying to fix things. I notice when I’m trying to control the uncontrollable, and I stop. Like all of us, I have challenges and thankfully always will because such events have value. I can accomplish anything against all odds. I am empowered by my connections with others. More and more, my friends and family remind me that I must be in a good place.

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