Settling Old Scores

 

Do you know this expression? It means to avenge a grievance or injury or to “get even”.

I’ve been thinking about this expression over the past few days and how it has historically been the basis of so many wars as well as the cause of incredible brokenness in innumerable personal relationships. The reason it touches a deep place in me is that I was obsessed with fairness (well, my concept of fairness) for most of my life. It has only been in recent years that I have come to accept that life is not egalitarian either in opportunities or in outcomes and that many battles simply cannot be “won”, at least not with logic, standards, or rules.  When it comes to settling scores, we are dealing with emotions. Even the battle for power/control is emotional, despite all the strategy that might go into the skirmishes.

Until I was in my early 40s, most of my relationships were summarized on a huge blackboard in my head. This blackboard had a heavy vertical white line down the middle. On one side of the line were individuals who had treated me with respect, integrity, and consistent good will. On the other side were those who hadn’t. I gave the benefit of the doubt, had patience, usually gave one or more second chances after what I considered bad behavior {can you see the mindset here?} – and there were instances of VERY bad behavior, believe me. But, once a person had crossed that heavy white line, he or she was “other” to me. I would possibly be civil if necessary, but there would be no trust. The upside was that I didn’t fight back with more bad behavior. My motto was: “Success is the best revenge”. But I felt compelled to remember every detail of every situation and conversation and could probably have repeated them in my sleep.

What I started to realize after four decades around the sun was that this method of keeping score (1) rarely changed the other person, (2) only occasionally brought about what I considered to be a just settlement, and (3) pretty much always kept me walled off in self-defense mode. This was exhausting. I finally reached a point where I decided that I really wanted to change, to be more open and less self-protective (I know the place, day, and hour when that decision was made), but I didn’t know how.

Without going into the details, let me just say that there were – and continue to be – two fundamental shifts that were required to put all that record keeping and attempts at score settling behind me:

FORGIVENESS

The first step was learning the power of true forgiveness. Not forgetting or agreeing with any words or deeds, but not holding on to any feelings of anger, sadness, bitterness, betrayal…whatever might remain after a negative experience or relationship.

OUTCOME THINKING

The second step was undergoing breakthrough training at the Aesthetic View Institute in Fresno, CA. At AVI, I learned the physiology, theoretical underpinnings, and strategies behind outcome thinking. Outcome Thinking is a method of mental observation and scenario creation that allows the observer to remain open to and curious about all possible outcomes that could arise from an initial event. I have been using outcome thinking for more than 15 years now, and this discipline (coupled with my deep faith) allows me to make optimal decisions for myself and for all involved much more frequently than my scoreboard thinking ever could. By the way, faith is not a prerequisite to success with outcome thinking, but it does help with the bumps along the way.

The transformation from being a prisoner of my own standards to being a student of all points of view while not losing my own core values took time and included many halts, backslides, turnarounds, and rabbit trails. I learned that the world includes different personality types and love languages, different worldviews, and – most definitely – different standards. I learned that most other people want respect and to feel like they are being heard whether or not an agreement can be reached in the end. I had always wanted to find points of commonality  rather than points of division, and I was relieved and excited to discover that I could choose that path AND that there were skills and techniques that I could learn to break out of my old paradigm without crashing and burning. Line by line, the blackboard was erased until, one day, I realized that it was no longer in my head at all.

The journey from (literally) black and white thinking to limitless colorful possibility thinking definitely requires (1) an understanding of true forgiveness and a willingness to remain in a constant state of forgiveness, and (2) a fierce commitment to face all circumstances without flinching, expecting everything and nothing at the same time. These two commitments are interconnected, but the first step to emotional release is always the willingness to let go of any need to settle a score, even if it is only within your own heart.

Would you like to know more about forgiveness and outcome thinking and how to control your emotions rather than simply trying to manage your emotions as they push to take over your best thinking? There are essential oils that can support this journey, but your own mind and willingness to see from other points of view is really the only requirement. Ask me about my Peace of Mind training.

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