NBH018: Forgiving the Past

It might be strange to have forgiveness as a time management topic, especially for lawyers. What does forgiveness have to do with the law and practicing law and productivity? Well, how much time are we spending in the past? Think about how much time we dwell on: what happened with clients, difficult client interactions, what a judge did to us, a decision that we got that we didn't like, opposing counsel making us feel a certain way, wondering about what our colleagues did in the past.

We're spending a lot of time in the past, whether we like it or not, and we carry emotions and grudges, whether we like it or not, for things that happened already. We take these past situations and bring them into the present, and it affects our future. This is ultimately what we're talking about: our productivity for what we can accomplish in the future.

The past is a major distraction from getting what we want. And so I thought I would address it head-on as a time management hack. What about looking at the past and forgiving? I was looking up the word forgive and did you know the origin of the word or the meaning? The “for” in forgive means “completely” and the give is give. So the word forgive means to “give completely”. And when I just think about it that way, I think of such a generous release. It is such a positive way to look at it, not something that we have to do or we're obligated to do. It's something that we want to do. We want to give completely: no reservations, no conditions. We want to give to that person or situation that may have hurt us, or we didn't agree with something that affected us that we're holding onto.

And by giving ourselves in this way completely, we can be free. We can free up time, space, and energy for what we want to do. Of course this is easier said than done, mostly because a lot of the forgiveness needs to be for ourselves. Maybe we didn't do something in the way we wanted to do it. Maybe we weren't happy with the work we were performing. Maybe we are still second-guessing how we could have done a situation, how we could have done it better. But it's over and there really isn't anything we can do. And that's hard news. That's hard to accept that it's done. And so I invite you to consider that holding onto the past is affecting your productivity, your daily productivity. I know it affects mine. Please consider letting that go.

Letting go of this past, of these feelings, emotions, memories will release precious time that you need to fulfill your goals. I know that you have goals that you may feel like you don't have enough time for. Time management is a tricky thing because we think we have to push harder, get more done. We feel like if we're not productive, there's something wrong. There's some outside thing that's pulling us away. But really it's us. It's our inside situation that is pulling us in so many directions. One big thing is holding onto the past. And forgiveness is this wonderful hack and wonderful gift that we can give completely in order to move on. We think we need to hack our way to productivity. There must be something that we're not getting and there must be some tool or trick or something that we are not getting and everyone else has it.

If we can expand our sense of time by changing our relationship to it (what this podcast and blog is about), then we can free up energy and time to do what we want to do. So tackling this means paying attention to where your attention goes. This is really difficult and I talk about it a lot; but pay attention to where your attention is going. This is not about beating ourselves up. This is about seeing what is and seeing how that that heaviness is really weighing us down. And we are the only ones that can release it. No one else can. You can vent about it as much as you want. You can talk to your friends and maybe that's a temporary relief, but nobody can help us release it and other than ourselves. And so when you do that, even a little, even a tiny bit of forgiveness to yourself or others can be very empowering.

You'll see results right away. I'm sure you've experienced this. And you can practice it like anything else, like any skill that you've learned. And when you get good at forgiving in your work context or in your personal life, you can mentor your clients, your staff, and your colleagues to do it too. Because really that's what life is about: learning how to do something and then teaching others. So let's forgive, which means to give completely, our past in order to receive more time in the present and in the future.

Others might be forgiving others in a way that you don't even like. But you're giving this gift completely without reservation. And mostly forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for anything in the past that's holding you back. It's easier said than done. But observe when we are holding ourselves back and see if you could forgive just a little. Let the grip go just a little because you're a different person now. You deserve that generosity of this forgiveness so you can have the time you need to serve the world. We need you.

This is your task - to please forgive the past as much as you're able, and help others do the same, to release more time and productivity so you can serve better.

Thank you to the sponsor of this podcast episode and blog post, Redula and Redula LLP, located in Salinas, CA. Radula and Radula LLP helps injured workers get all the benefits they are entitled including temporary disability, permanent disability and medical care. Redula and Redula LLP can be found at www.redulalawoffice.com. They speak English, Spanish and Tagalog. For a free copy of “The New Billable Hour” book and other resources, visit www.newbillablehour.com.

Related Articles