If we wish to free ourselves from enslavement, we must choose freedom and the responsibility this entails.

Leo Buscaglia

Not long after I got clarity on the truth that my value as a person is unrelated to my job title, (see Confusion to Clarity) I faced a new reality. Jobs are not given because you need a job. Jobs are given to the best candidate. Not just the technically qualified candidate, but the person the employer wants on the team. So I was laid off, and I had to compete with employed people to get a new job – both felt unfair.

I felt wounded and angry. I repeated the story over and over in my mind, and to others. That just made things worse because reliving events renewed my anger. I began to feel bitter and negative – my attitude showed in how I talked, my body language and my actions. I created a prison for myself with a constant flood of negative thoughts. How could I outshine the competition and be the candidate of choice with so much negativity lurking just beneath my skin and flooding my mind?  I needed a plan to release myself from this spiral. I needed to be at my peak performance for my job search.  I realized what I needed to do was forgive.

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Yet to me “forgiveness” meant letting the other guy off the hook; and that made me angry. Fortunately I came to learn that forgiveness is not for the other person. It’s for me. It is a decision to let the past go and not think about it any more. It’s the door out of the never-ending cycle where you re-live pain over and over. It’s how to stop feeling like a powerless victim, and growing bitter. I also had to accept it is not up to me to pass judgment.  I needed to excuse myself from jury duty and surrender that to a power greater than me.

I saw that the person I most affected with my judgmental, unforgiving spirit was me. My former company and coworkers had moved on. Yet I was stuck in my prison, spinning in my negative thoughts – and still unemployed.  I needed to get in the game so I could win, and be re-employed.  To get in the game though, I needed to level the playing field in my mind, first.

That is when I began the cleansing ritual in the shower.

A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him. ~Ezra Pound

Each morning, I let the shower water wash over me. I visualized any dark, negative thoughts coming out of my skin and running down the drain.  I did this until I pictured the water running clean from my body and mind.  At the same time, I reinforced a decision to forgive my former company and release them from my judgment. I released them from any thoughts of punishment and retribution.  I let all of that go swirling down the drain.

It was a decision – not a feeling – and it took energy and effort. But I was determined to let all the pain and negativity go, and to continue this practice for as long as it took to become free. I saw that it was my responsibility to deal with my circumstances – no one could do this for me.  I kept at this cleansing shower ritual until my feelings came into alignment with the decision.  One day, I had nothing more to cleanse on this!

What I gained from my cleansing shower was a light hearted, hopeful attitude that allowed me to put my best foot forward and shine during my job search. Not only was I in the game, I had taken control of the playing field in my mind; I became a legitimate contender. During this season of unemployment, my cleansing shower ritual was my most valued tool in my job search toolbox.  There I embraced the power of forgiveness, and chose to release the past so I could move forward.

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