When we forgive, we clear out all the balls and chains that connect us to others in the unhealthiest ways. We let loose the shackles that bind our hearts and limit the expression of our love.
We become happy not because anything outside of us is good or bad, but simply because we’re experiencing inner peace, self-love and self-respect.
When we refuse to forgive all we’re doing is swallowing the poison, hoping the other person drops dead.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves so that we stop ruining our lives. And become the awesome people we truly are.
- It does not mean that just because you are forgiving, that you’re making the other person right this is not true.
- Forgiveness is not condoning bad behaviour under any circumstances.
- And forgiveness does not make hurtful actions okay, excusable, or correct.
We’re all good and loving people at our core. But we’re also people that sometimes find ourselves holding on to old resentments, hurts, and judgments that are energetically locking our ability to fully love and enjoy life.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you would finally let go of that anger you had towards yourself, your parents, your family, that kid who bullied you in 3rd grade and not feel your blood pressure rise or feel like you want to run and hide? And instead of feeling hate, anger, pain, and betrayal… you instead feel compassion and forgiveness for them?
I know… it’s easier said than done.
So the first thing to do is to be clear about WHY you want to forgive yourself or someone else. Unless you have a reason, you don’t want to take the action necessary to create a new result. Consider asking yourself, “What has been the impact of me not forgiving?” When you can get present to a pain or a negative impact, you won’t be motivated to take on this courageous act. Perhaps you want to forgive because the hurtful feelings of resentment is impacting your mental or emotional well-being.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you identify if and where forgiveness can positively impact your life:
- What past actions do you regret? How did you punish yourself/others for it? How did it impact your life?
- What mistakes have you made that you beat yourself up about, and replay in your mind over and over again?
- What do you feel guilty for? How do you punish yourself? How does it impact your life?
Perhaps it’s because you are unable to open your heart and love people the way you want to because you’re holding back, afraid to be hurt again.
Perhaps, deep down, you truly want a relationship with this person, you miss them in your life, and want to reconnect.
Perhaps, the guilt and shame is eating you up inside and you’re ready to stop tormenting yourself about an old situation
Look at what’s at stake. Ask yourself, what would be possible if you did forgive yourself or someone else? But more importantly, what do you think will happen if you do forgive? What meaning do you make it about yourself? That you’re a pushover? That you’re admitting fault or responsibility? That you are a bad person?
Many of us were taught that guilt, pride, and ego are attributes that should be honoured and protected. “Never admit your guilt” is something that I personally grew up with. Whenever our family would have an argument, we would have a blow up, everyone would go to their respective rooms, and then when we cooled off, we would return back to the common areas and pretend like nothing happened. No apology, no nothing. It was just understood and we forgave each other because we were family and we knew that we all loved each other. In many ways it was a safe space where we just knew that unconditional love was a family value, and yet, not directly asking for forgiveness taught us bad habits around being vulnerable enough to admit when we had a less-than-shining moment.
Oftentimes, clients say to me, “I want to move forward. I want to forgive but I don’t know how.”
I always respond with this question and statement: “Where have you not forgiven yourself for? Because you don’t know what forgiveness is for yourself, then how can you have it for another person?”
Everyone is a mirror of us and we are meant to be teachers to each other. If there is something that you resist with other people, chances are it’s because you haven’t learned that lesson for yourself which is why you are constantly triggered and unable to make the difference you want to make.
So what is the ultimate goal of forgiveness?
- Freedom from the prison you are held in
- Freedom from the weight of the baggage you carry.
- Freedom from the poison of resentment
- Freedom from the limitations you place on your life by orchestrating your life around making someone pay or avoiding someone.
- Free from the emotional energy you spend on pain, suffering, hate, jealousy, guilt, blame, shame or self-loathing.
The key to your freedom is knowing WHY you want it. In order to know what’s at stake, and why forgiveness is so important for you, you need to look deeply at the consequences of NOT forgiving.
You CAN be free. The first step is to make a decision that it’s worth it, that you’re ready, and it’s time.
So why do people resist being willing to forgive? It’s because most people have a misperception about what forgiveness truly is, and because of this, they don’t like the idea of forgiving, so let’s take a quick look at what forgiveness is NOT:
Forgiveness is NOT:
- Reconciliation with the person who hurt you.
- Living in denial about a person’s actions
- Allowing the person to do the same behaviour over and over
- Having no consequence for a behaviour.
- Letting someone off the hook
Forgiveness IS allowing yourself to move on with your life and stop dragging the past around with you as an excuse to punish yourself and hold yourself back.
Forgiveness is for YOU, NOT them.
“True justice is paying once for each mistake. Tue injustice is paying more than once. Animals pay once, humans pay thousands of times. Every time we remember we judge ourselves and feel guilt over and over again” – Edgar Cayce.