Reflecting on intent is crucial, especially if you grew up around judgmental types who used guilt and shame to control or manipulate you into behaving in ways that only served their interests. Remember that your upbringing wasn’t in a vacuum and take a moment to reflect on what you have survived. These experiences were valuable lessons, which means you should never compare yourself to others with thoughts like “I should have achieved success” or “I should have that” or “I should have known better.” What you endured could have shattered someone whom society considers successful.

Forget about the judgments imposed by others; let them cling to their chosen beliefs. Personally, I find it exhausting to maintain peace with those who are determined to misunderstand me. That’s why I bid them farewell, and I have no regrets about it. Some individuals are meant to be loved from a safe distance. Now, I channel that energy into healing myself and processing my experiences.

I reflect on what I have overcome, how I utilized my resources, and the good I intended and continue to intend. Forgiving others is incredibly powerful; it lightens an immense burden. But forgiving myself has freed me from the weight of the world upon my shoulders.

Edmund J. Janas, II

The Shopkeeper’s Son