Pragmatic Forgiveness in Action.

A dear friend of mine never allows people who are “playing less than nice” in traffic to get to her, anger her, or deeply upset her. She has a mantra that she uses… She thinks to herself “wow they must really need to poop!” To me this purely encapsulates what pragmatic forgiveness is. (I think we’ve all been less than ideal drivers at some point due to some reason.) In these moments where she could easily allow herself to be agitated, angry, frustrated, or even vengeful, she chooses to not even allow it to bother her. Therefore; there’s nothing she’s holding onto and there’s nothing she has to do to let it go–it never even had time to take hold–plus, she gives herself a little chuckle… Humor and laughter are so healing.

Pragmatic forgiveness is about letting go in order to create space for LOVE. Instead of getting all worked up and playing into the unkind, not nice, erratic behavior of someone on the road, create space; physically and metaphorically. Stay clear of the person and if you need some other thought suggestion to help you feel more at ease and bring you some peace here you go:

  • What if that person just got a call that someone they love dearly died?
  • What if they got a call that something so exciting just happened that they can hardly contain themselves?
  • What if they got a call that they won the lottery?
  • What if they almost just got in a horrendous accident and are trying to compose themselves after this event?
  • What if life is just so overwhelming that they are mentally and emotionally distracted?
  • When has your attention been hijacked or consumed by something?

When we are able to reframe something and choose a better narrative, we actually do ourselves the favor. When we think, “what a jerk,” “what an asshole,” “what a dumb ass,” “what a selfish prick,” “that person is crazy,” … Those are opinions and narratives that we are telling ourselves that may be far from the truth and are in fact detrimental to our own psyche. But, if you must have a narrative or make up a story, why not make the narrative funny or heartwarming or one in which you want to say a prayer or send a kind wish for that person? Why not just send LOVE their way? By doing this you don’t even allow yourself to be captured by negativity, you remain free.

You become captured and enslaved by your own assumptions, opinions, negativity, and judgments. So, practice not doing this. Practice pragmatic forgiveness for yourself and others in order to cultivate more joy, compassion, kindness, and LOVE in your life. Now, you may be thinking this is simple and easy for this driving scenario, but what about pragmatic forgiveness with traumatic events, abuse, painful/hurtful things and experiences? Well, the process is still simple, but maybe not as easy. Either way the intention behind forgiveness is for you to free yourself and experience more joy, happiness, and LOVE.

When forgiving, you’re not excusing what happened or a person’s behavior, you’re just allowing yourself to be free of the negative charges that will continue to occur, or even “zap” you. By holding on to that negative thought, opinion, belief, or experience you will never give yourself an opportunity to win, but always lose, because by holding on, it is your mind that continues to recall the people, the scenario, and/or the experience long after it has happened. So, it is you continuing to allow the past to be detrimental, toxic, and painful for yourself in the present and the future. By holding onto the toxic, the pain, the hurt, the sadness, the grief, the anger, you allow yourself or another to take away your joy, happiness, fulfillment, success, and most importantly LOVE. You do this by giving power over to the other or the negativity, instead of taking your power back and residing in LOVE. When you reside in LOVE you no longer allow anyone or any moment of your past to dictate your present and your future.

What if you could actually wish and hope LOVE for the person, people, things, or experiences that burden you? What if those people were transformed and became people of kindness, hope, compassion, and LOVE?
Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift for everyone?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if none of us was living in our own personal hell?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we never had to worry about that other person again because there is now nothing to worry about, being that they reside in a transformed place [LOVE]?

What if justice was LOVE?
What if justice was transformation?
What if consequences were learning kindness, compassion, joy, happiness, and LOVE?
What if discipline was about learning how to LOVE yourself so much more deeply that you could never even fathom the thought of harming yourself or someone else because there’s just too much LOVE within to even conjure such a thing?
What if we held onto and clung to LOVE instead?
What if we let go of ideologies of revenge, avenging, and causing or inflicting some sort of pain on another?

Not forgiving someone doesn’t hold them accountable or make them responsible. You can never hold another person accountable, we can only feel and experience accountability within ourselves. We are the only ones that can be accountable and feel accountable. You cannot ever make anybody else take responsibility. Responsibility is felt within a person. An individual can only feel responsible and be responsible within and for themselves. So, all of this external stuff is futile–not forgiving is futile. Only sometimes does disciplining and creating consequences deliver the outcome of accountability and responsibility. But, most times, that is not the outcome; repeat offenses are.

However, I believe that if we create a discipline of LOVE, a practice of forgiveness, and consequences were a natural result with built in lessons that yielded learning, growth and evolution, accountability and responsibility would be the outcome more often. We can best practice pragmatic forgiveness by structuring and delivering our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and beliefs from a place of LOVE, with the intention of rehabilitation and transformation (for ourselves and others).

To start practicing pragmatic forgiveness click here: LOVE. Start with the Ho’oponopono prayer and Forgiveness Mantra.

By Melissa Reese

Commitment VS. Obligation

There is absolutely a difference between commitment and obligation. Obligation brings with it frustration, anger, resistance, attachment to outcome, and a quid pro quo (tit-for-tat) mentality. Commitment brings with it an intention of LOVE, joy, nourishment, and no attachment to outcome – just the opportunity to give, share, and receive with sheer gratitude. Our society breeds obligation and confuses and conflates obligation with commitment. They are far from the same.

Obligation is when when we show up, but resentment, frustration, anger, jealousy, spitefulness, and guilt, hurt, or pain are in tow. When we keep ourselves in obligation, we keep ourselves in tunnel vision – unaware of possibilities outside our narrow focus. We keep ourselves imprisoned when in obligation— shackled, tattered, exhausted, and depleted. We adhere ourselves to “should,“ “have to,“ and “I don’t have a choice.“ We dim our light and subdue our fire to embers that barely produce any heat at all. We play small when in obligation. We allow others voices to drowned out our own voice. We place ourselves second, third, fourth (or more) to other people. When in obligation we allow our world to close in on us. We set ourselves aside, not to be of service, and to eventually be forgotten. Obligation only serves the other. Obligation is not in integrity. Commitment serves all—including yourself.

Commitment is when we show up with joy, gratitude, excitement, desire, purpose, motivation, and kindness—and it’s done from a place of freedom. Commitment comes with an open heart and mind. It shows up to serve and be served. It says, “I really want to.” It shows up to share and be nourished. Commitment is a meaningful ‘yes,’ and a meaningful ‘no.’ It brings with it an energy of community, inclusion, respect, honesty, and shared experience. Commitment engages healthy boundaries, whereas obligation bulldozes them. While obligation stifles, commitment flourishes. In commitment we illuminate light and fan the embers of energy to create a healthy fire that fuels continued collaboration, growth, and forward movement. Commitment says, “I see you doing, giving, and sharing, and I want to be a part of that, I want to help how I can and I’m able.“ Commitment is in integrity.

Commitment never injects itself without permission, healthy boundaries, and continued communication. Commitment creates a win-win. Commitment is a statement and testament to and for LOVE, freedom, and gratitude. Commitment is a wonderful, profound, transformative, and shared experience. Commitment requires open and honest communication. Obligation knows no such thing. Commitment allows for collaboration, individuality, learning, and healthy-application of these things.

Commitment can turn into obligation when there is a lack of communication, integrity, respect, dignity, individuality, honesty, unrealistic or confusing expectations, LOVE, gratitude, joy, or sense of freedom. Obligation can sometimes turn back into a commitment, but only if the aforementioned things are engaged and it is in alignment with who you are at your core. If an obligation can never be a commitment, it must be excused from your life. You must pardon yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Obligation shackles and says, “you must,“ “you have to,“ “you should,“ “stay because X, Y, Z.“ Commitment allows you to freely and steadfastly be and do what calls to your heart and being. Commitment takes into consideration the highest good for all involved. It allows you to think for yourself and decide, “here’s why I want to stay,“ “here’s why I want to continue,” “this is why it’s meaningful,” “this is why it’s worth it,” or “this is how it nourishes me as well as them.”

Remember kindness does not keep a tally. Being kind is just a way of being and there is no debt. You are not obligated to pay that person back. You can show deep gratitude, make a kind gesture back (if you are able), or you can pay kindness forward. But, never do it out of obligation, only choose to commit to something that feels good, is realistic to accomplish, and doesn’t overwhelm or “drowned” you or anyone else.

Relationships, ultimately, are made up of deposits and withdrawals, but never about keeping a balance sheet. Deposits include energy given, gifts given, time given, experiences had, and LOVE shared. Check in with your relationships that feel like obligation and notice if this “joint account” is full solely because of you? Is that true or are your expectations out of alignment?

We can experience the shift of commitment to obligation in any type of relationship: spouse, partner, children, job, career, diet, exercise, religion, where you live, and more. If you have children, you have a commitment to them until they are an adult, and realize if you are feeling obligated to them as opposed to a commitment. If you feel obligated as opposed to committed to your child(ren), you need to check yourself and figure out where the commitment turned into an obligation. What values and/or boundaries are being bulldozed? Is there a partner, parent, teacher, clergy member, or family member projecting their stuff onto you and are you then in turn projecting that onto your children? It is imperative to heal yourself for a healthy relationship. If you feel obligated to friends, coworkers, family members— check in with yourself and notice why you are feeling obligated versus a commitment.

Check in with the areas of your life you feel a pull to obligation. How are you pushing yourself aside and denying yourself in these areas? In the areas you are feeling obligated, can healthy boundaries be set or the terms be reset for the sake of bringing a sense of gratitude, joy, and/or a deep sense of fulfillment so it can be transformed into a commitment?

Your commitment is first and foremost to your overall well-being. The healthier, happier, and more grateful you are, the better off the world around you will be. Notice when you refer to something as an obligation versus a commitment. What have you internalized about the experience? How are you “left wanting?” What parts of it are a total drag, very uncomfortable, tiresome, frustrating, and/or unbearable? What are your True responsibilities and what role do others play or need to play? Where would your time, efforts, and/or money be valued, appreciated, transformative, impactful, and feel good?

Manage your expectations, check in with your relationships, calibrate your commitments, and eliminate your obligations.

By Melissa Reese

The Ego Redefined

Let’s talk about ego. We all have one, some are just healthier than others (not being facetious here). The majority of self-help/self-development/therapy people talk about quelling or getting rid of the ego all together. Often you’ll here, “don’t operate from your ego,” or “that’s just their ego talking,” or “they have a big ego.” I don’t see it that way. I think we have defined ego as something that is “bad,” “frivolous,” “toxic,” and generally not ideal. But ego is just a thing. We can (re)define it.

The ego can be influenced/manipulated, molded, individually defined, and either malnourished or nourished. I believe we need a nourished and healthy ego. If we eliminated our ego, we would no longer be human. Maybe one day we will evolve to the point where we no longer require an ego because we reside in a different energy form. But, until then, as humans, we have this ego thing.

Some of the wisest teachers and spiritual figures, as well as prolific scholars say that the ego is what makes us human, for without it we are simply in our purest spirit form. As humans we need to align with our spirit, but that is not the form we are in on earth. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. We are here to learn, grow, and evolve. We need to engage our soul, for it is here for a purpose; our soul is our humanity—individually and collectively actualized.

Based on all of this, I believe as long as we are human that it is imperative that we tend to our ego with loving and nurturing care. I believe we have a responsibility to care for and nourish this part of our self; just as we have a responsibility to tend, care for, and nurture our mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being. Our ego is simply how we see, know, and learn about our humanity; individually and collectively.

The ego refers to the unique self individualized from the rest of the world and others. It is influenced by emotions, experiences, relationships, and beliefs – the external experience internalized, as it relates to you. Your feeling of self expressed internally and projected externally. The Ego is influenced by the mind and the mind influences the Ego. We can have a malnourished or nourished ego. Here is how I define that:

Malnourished Ego: Consider this an ego fed with Twinkies and the like. A malnourished ego needs to hear praise from others over and over, for without that praise, the self feels deflated, agitated, and/or worthless. A malnourished ego insults, dehumanizes, degrades, and lacks in praising others, and overpraises the self to others while internally often feeling invalidated. A malnourished ego focuses on self in ways that is void of recognizing the needs and wants of anyone else. It has a difficult time with, or fails to see the strength, beauty, wonderful attributes, and value of others and self. It operates from a place of lack and engages exclusivity. It is difficult or impossible to take feedback or criticism and most feedback is taken as criticism and taken personally. A malnourished ego is preoccupied by and/or fixated on competition and winning; fragile; comes from a space of fear.

Nourished or Light Ego: Consider this an ego fed with kale and the like. A nourished or light ego praises others and self with joy, gratitude, respect, and LOVE*. A nourished or light ego sees its unique gifts and recognizes others unique gifts and talents. It builds both the self and others up; thus allowing an inclusive and greater experience of happiness and being nurtured. A nourished or light ego knows all abundance and gratitude and engages inclusivity. It knows the importance of practicing self-care and self-LOVE for the greater good and encourages others to do the same. A nourished or light ego is very comfortable with the self, unshaken by other’s opinions and also willing to listen (can take feedback and not take criticism personally); not Fragile; comes from a space of LOVE.

Your soul is here to have a unique experience that helps it and “the collective” to learn, grow and evolve. We learn by having an ego because it determines what information we take in and how it applies to our self. I believe when the soul is aligned with a nourished ego we more deeply understand how interconnected everything is and what responsibility we have in that connection. We are able to better understand and conceptualize the human experience and know ourselves more deeply while having this unique soul experience—that has a greater impact on soul and spiritual evolution.

We have to know self to heal self. When we know self and choose to heal self we evolve. As a human, it takes ego to accomplish this. And this is exactly why it is imperative to have a nourished and healthy ego.

Ways to nourish your ego:

  • + Choose healthier foods and notice how your body responds. Thank the food before you consume it and notice the energy exchange and relationship you feel with the food. Is food just here to serve you however you want, whenever you want? What do you have to offer food?
  • + Spend time within nature and realize how you impact it. Notice the impact that being in nature has on you. What is your relationship with nature? Is it intimate, an acquaintance, or estranged? Do you feel or are you aware of a connection that creates mutual impact?
  • + Exercise more. Experiment with what feels the most fun, enjoyable, exhilarating, and fulfilling to you (dancing in your living room, rollerblading/skating, going to the gym, hiking, a mixture of all of these or something else…). Feel and deeply experience how your body and mind feel while you exercise. Let it be personal and just for you; a gift you give your self.
  • + Watch inspiring and/or “feel-good” shows/documentaries/movies. Notice how you relate to them. What similarities are happening within what was filmed and in your life? Notice what is applicable to you and what you can appreciate that may not be applicable. Notice if you are comparing and judging or if you are simply consuming what is the best for you and leaving the rest as being meaningful for someone else. If what you watch is scary, violent, upsetting, or the like, it’s most likely not providing nourishment. If it’s not providing nourishment, excuse it from your life.
  • + Read or listen to inspiring and/or “feel-good” books (self-help/self-development, memoirs, autobiographies, novels) and become aware of how your body and mind are responding to the information you are taking in. Is the information helping you to experience elevation, depletion, exhaustion, joy, gratitude, frustration, hope, despair, or something else? If it’s not providing nourishment, excuse it from your life.
  • + Engage in all sorts of different conversations and notice when you feel at ease, joyful, excited, energized, grateful, and the like. Also notice when you feel agitated, frustrated, depleted, bored, and the like. What part are you playing in how you feel and what part might the other individual(s) be playing? Excuse yourself whenever you feel you need to regroup, recoup, or simply no longer engage.
  • + Cheer on others. When you see someone doing something incredible/courageous/wonderful/kind (whether you know them or not), congratulate them; send a message, post a comment, make a phone call, send a text, schedule a date to meet, spread the word. LOVE when you see others “winning” and really feel the joy and happiness that it brings. Do your best to encourage those you see struggling; send a quote, share a story, share a video, share some of your time, let them know you are sending LOVE their way; sometimes the smallest gesture is the most thoughtful one. You ultimately “win” when you take action in speaking words (or doing something) of kindness, compassion, LOVE, respect, and happiness/joy. When we give we receive. Give without expectation. Receive with deep gratitude.

The goal is to give yourself opportunities to get to know your self so-very-well. This is how you better manage and navigate what comes in and out of your life, what you choose to expose your self to, and how you decide to engage and interact with others and your environment. There is a difference between deciphering and judging. A nourished ego will decipher what is “good,” “bad,” “right,” and “wrong” for self while allowing others to do the same for their self. By doing this you get to feel good from the inside out and then share that goodness with everything and everyone around you. This is how you learn to LOVE all aspects of your self without judgement and maintain a respect for being uniquely and wonderfully imperfect, and you recognize this with others. This is how you can become more reliant on self while still able to accept external help, praise, and LOVE with appreciation and gratitude; as well as reciprocate this with others.

A nourished ego is a resilient, luminous, centered, LOVING self.

By Melissa Reese

*LOVE: Luminous, Omniscient, Vital, Energy. A space, place, domain; omnipresent; all knowing; wisdom; kindness; compassion; feeling; experience; void of any and all judgement; void of fear; Divine.

Fear & Choice

Only sometimes is fear not a choice. But we always have a choice in how we respond to it.

Sometimes fear is a choice and sometimes it is not. When fear is not a choice, it is imperative that we know how to respond to it appropriately. We can learn how to befriend our fear, how to manage our fear, how to navigate our fear, and how to cultivate and engage our courage by better understanding the fear that we do choose in life.

Often, fear is simply an illusion. We think this illusion is reality, when in fact it is only manufactured. We are the manufacturers, producers, and distributors of our fear.

Fear can come from feelings of unworthy, inadequate, less than, not enough, not good enough, unlovable, envy, bitterness, resentment, grief, and pain.

We humans have an unhealthy tendency to judge; others and ourselves. Judgement is fear’s calling card. Our judgement of something determines our perception, opinion, and feeling [about it]. Judgement is fear. Deciphering is different than judging. Deciphering seeks to separate Truth from lies/illusions/fear and find the LOVE. Judgement seeks to compartmentalize, scrutinize, impugn, and penalize anything and everything, regardless of Truth or lie; it does not seek to understand the difference. Judgement diminishes our courage.

We don’t choose fear when we are being chased, attacked, threatened, or the like. But, our fear is not bigger than us. We can use our mind, our breath, and our heart to help regulate our nervous system and quell the fear; thus better able to navigate through it. It takes practice and that practice is how we cultivate our courage. Fear is restrictive and LOVE is expansive. The better we can learn to expand in and with LOVE the more we push fear out; better able to conquer it.

Courage tells LOVE, “I believe.” Overcome any fear with the courage to connect with LOVE and sync your breath, heart, and mind. LOVE never judges, never hates, never blames, never demeans, never exploits, never hurts, never avenges or revenges, and is void of suffering.

Cultivating courage means doing the work. You work within yourself to decipher where your judgements lie, what your beliefs really are, what your Truth is, and what your individual and unique gifts are. It means you take the time to learn and understand yourself at such a deep level that you are aware of any and all shifts within you and are able to find the meaning and purpose behind them as well as navigate these shifts, in the moment, as they happen, in a healthy and nourishing way. You are able to catch yourself when you slip and redirect accordingly.

Learning how to connect with LOVE and sync your breath and heart while encouraging your mind to be still, as if staring in awe at beautiful scenery, is the best way take charge of your fear (or really any out-of-control emotion). You liberate yourself when you know how to regulate yourself. Practicing breath work, meditation, and presence will help you in fully experiencing your freedom and options; better able to courageously express your strength, authenticity, wisdom, and more resilient Self.

To paraphrase Nelson Mandela; courage is not the absence of fear and despair, but the ability to conquer them.

We choose fear:

  • When we stay closed minded…
  • When we judge…
  • When we are not open to new information…
  • When we are unwilling to try and better understand…
  • When we close ourselves off to new information…
  • When we refuse to see another’s point-of-view…
  • When we adhere to archaic and outdated beliefs…
  • When we choose to stay ignorant…
  • When we retaliate…
  • When what we believe, say, and do harmfully impacts fellow beings…
  • When we don’t question if our beliefs belong to us or if we somehow took them on and/or inherited them…
  • When we don’t understand our own Truth and our own deepest values…
  • When we fail to even try…
  • Where in your life are you choosing fear? How can you better engage your courage to navigate and even eliminate your illusionary fear?

We all have a choice to choose LOVE over fear, to choose courage over fear, to choose kindness over fear, to choose learning over fear, to choose compassion over fear.

We choose LOVE:

  • When we stay open and curious to ourselves and others (objective vs. subjective)…
  • When we look at any situation or person (including ourselves) with grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness…
  • When we genuinely want to do our best to understand…
  • When we understand our own unique deepest Truths and values, and honor our Self…
  • When we rejoice in the awe of resilient nature…
  • When we rejoice in the awe of our multi-capable and resilient Self…
  • When we seek all kinds of new information and understand our full comprehension is limited…
  • When we choose courage and engage it…
  • When we experience deep gratitude…

What will you choose?

Expand with LOVE, never restrict with fear.

By Melissa Reese
The Pursuit Guru

The Self.

“Ignorance is bliss only when you see the angel outside, but not the devil within.” -Dipendra Tamang

When you think about your Self who do you know your Self as? When you look in the mirror what do you see and what do you feel? Who are you? What makes up “you?” Are you willing to see all your gold as well as all your mud?

To point the finger at another but fail to look within, ignorance.

To justify to yourself for yourself, but want to hold another accountable, ignorance.

To deem right, wrong, good, and bad for yourself and then hold another to that same measurement and ideology, ignorance.

To be more aware of others than your Self or to know others more than you truly know your Self, ignorance.

To be more concerned with others than your Self, ignorance.

We all have blind spots to and for ourselves. It is important to get to know what those blind spots are. We can do this by working with someone that we trust. We can work through this by being vulnerable and asking those that LOVE us most to lovingly articulate what some of our blind spots could be.

Our only responsibility is to and for our Self. We can only truly and deeply heal our own Self. We can only help people on their journey if they are willing to be helped, and it is still their own responsibility to heal themselves.

What are you allowing yourself to see? What are you not allowing yourself to see? What do you know to be true? What do you not want to be true? What do you keep yourself from knowing to be true?

Looks can be deceiving. Learn to “see” with your heart and intuition over simply your eyes. Experience your Self from the inside out and you will better be able to see others from the inside out.

There is the shadow and there is the light. You can and will live in your own shadow until you become the light. Seek your Truth. Never stop learning (and growing).

Ditch the ignorance, embrace vulnerability, openness, curiosity, and most of all LOVE–no devil could ever withstand this.

By Melissa Reese
The Pursuit Guru