I wanted to shop for some new headphones, so I went to B&H on 34th and 9th, which left me near a megaplex on 34th, so it was a matter of what movie was playing when I finished with the audio shopping, and it was Eat Pray Love.
It didn't get great reviews, but sometimes it's relaxing to go to a movie with low expectations. This one was okay, because it had a message that was simple, one that I was familiar with from my mid-life crisis a number of years ago. It goes like this.
Your mind plays tricks on you, and makes you think other people are your problem, and that getting them to do something or be a certain way will unlock some part of your future. The inverse also seems true, their unwillingness to change is holding you back from being the great person you could be if only they would change. It's a trick because it seldom is true. It's a trick because it allows you not to change to become great and happy because you're scared to.
The most powerful thing you can do to get through all this messy trickery is to first forgive your ghosts. You can let them off the hook, even if they're still alive, by realizing that the past is dead and can't hurt you or hold you back. And if they're actually dead, you can achieve great peace by not only forgiving them now, but retroactively forgiving them when they were still alive. Try to visualize saying to your mother or father or grandparent or uncle who was unkind to you. Say "I forgive you" to their imaginary body, the one they occupied when they were hurting you.
This letting-off-the-hook is enormously liberating, not so much for them, but for you -- because they're just foils for the person you're probably really holding accountable for the past misery (and shouldn't) or for the present misery (which you should) -- you!
Projection is such a powerful illusion, most of the time we don't even realize we're doing it and when people come awake from it, it can create adult memories that are as powerful as any from childhood.
I remember two events in this waking up process. 1. I said to my therapist that I know exactly what my brother is thinking right now. She said, matter-of-factly: Really, how do you know that? (as if she accepted that I did know, which of course I didn't). I was baffled. I asked why she never asked me that before. She said she had been asking me that for years, but this was the first time (apparently) that I had heard her. 2. I was on a walk with a friend from a massage community I was part of. I was very frustrated with my girlfriend and was going on and on saying: I wish she would xxx, and fill in the blank with a dozen things she did or didn't do that bothered me. Every time I did it my friend would say: In what way do you wish you would xxx. At first it was just annoying, I wished she would let me finish venting. But she was making a point that eventually sunk in. My problem wasn't the girlfriend, my problem was me. The girlfriend was just a foil, a screen I was projecting on, a barrier to keep me from realizing that, as boring and undramatic as it is, the barrier was within me, not her.
Eat Pray Love takes over two hours to make this point, and it doesn't make it very powerfully, but no matter. For a certain number of people being able to visualize Julia Roberts gaining freedom from her ghosts might be enough to find their own way out of the fog.