I borrowed the title of a beloved book in naming this article. It speaks to a theme guiding me for many years. Even before the book found its way to me, some 25 years ago, I had been contemplating an idea that our thoughts and very make up were informed by one of two qualities. Love or fear. Most likely a blend of both for most of us, yet I reckoned with the truth that my predominant disposition was fear.

Author Gerald Jampolsky’s message in “Love Is Letting Go Of Fear” made a life-changing impression on me. Still does. At the time first reading it I’d been apprenticing at a healing center in Dallas. The book jumped out at me as it stood in line with all the others on a shelf of our little treasure trove library. Although by apprenticing I thought I was there to learn how to help others, what I wanted and needed was for the internal discomforts to stop and to find inner peace. Fortunately, the center’s founder, Deborah Singleton ( www.ahealingplace.org), taught from a principle that true healing is an inside job. One needs to do their own work before being able to help another.

Just as the teacher will show up when one is ready, so too perhaps does the book! My life was pretty mired in stress, responsibilities, and expectations. I had a lot of wonderful things going for me too. I would have described myself as an intelligent and capable woman, mother, wife, and professional. Yet, we develop into adulthood based on the childhood environment from which we come. Mine was influenced by discord between parents, sibling in- fighting, religious mixed messages, and a time when a belief in lack prevailed. Any love that was present felt conditional. In that space I learned to steal, lie, manipulate, and hurt others to bolster my self-esteem. A fear- based scenario for sure!

As a young woman wrought with anxiety, when things didn’t go my way I was quick to react, point blame, ridicule, or use some other defense. Anything to avoid feeling discomforts of my own guilt and shame. But let us rest here for a moment. Honestly, don’t we all have some of that running through us? I believe these are some of the most detrimental of human emotions. That need to be acknowledged and then let go. They exist in fear.

Dr. Jampolsky’s book is grounded in the principle that it is not other people or situations that cause us upset. Rather, it is our own thoughts, attitudes and projections that are responsible for our distress. And resulting actions we take that can hurt us. Healing, then, is not the result of trying to change others, rather to make our own inner change.

Causes me to remember the old “sticks n stones…” But this goes much deeper. This is the “doing our own work” I referred to earlier. As Dr. Jampolsky describes, “The goal is self-healing in the face of each life challenge, regardless of the source.” Forgiveness is the route from fear to love. He goes on to say, “forgiveness does not mean condoning or agreeing with a horrendous act. It is a decision to no longer attack oneself. It is quite simply the decision not to suffer.” Wow – I could feel how I’d been suffering.

I had always considered forgiveness something one did toward or asked of another. Forgive myself? Whole new concept. Yet isn’t forgiveness just another form of letting go? Writing this, I can feel remnants of emotional upsets still present in my body. Maybe you’ve got some of that too. I use and offer this thought. Forgiveness is an energy. Even if I can’t seem to connect with what specifically needs forgiving, I can sit quietly, breathe, and call in the energy of forgiveness. As I feel it wash through me I often become aware of how my unforgivenesses caused me to hold onto and relive old hurts. How it blocked good things, like unconditional love. How about together we let ourselves and others off the hook and practice letting go?

Laura Sarna