“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamott
Forgiveness is one of the beautiful qualities of the heart chakra
Nothing keeps us further from our happiness and inner peace than holding onto old regrets and grievances. So, if you want inner peace, it’s time to forgive and let go.
Forgiveness! I hear some of you huff! Why should I forgive when I have been hurt so badly. I will never forgive them. They don’t deserve my forgiveness, and I will never get over what they did to me.
Well, the truth is that we don’t live in a perfect world. Life sometimes sucks, and people sometimes do sucky things. This means that other people can sometimes intentionally or unintentionally hurt us or let us down. Deep down, we may genuinely believe that the one who harms us doesn’t deserve our forgiveness and needs to suffer.
However, nothing blocks the heart chakra and keeps you from your inner peace than bitterness and resentment. Hang on to these negative emotions also harms our immune system and increases our blood pressure. So to forgive is healing both emotionally and to your physical body.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean
- you ever have to see the other person again – but you might choose to, which is fine. The other person doesn’t even have to know that you have forgiven them. You forgive for yourself, not the other person.
- Putting up with bad behaviour from others
- Being a doormat
- Being weak
Having an open heart is truly blissful, and it is worth forgiving just to feel that bliss. Nothing compares to that feeling. With an open heart, you fall in love with the world. That may sound flowery and Pollyannaish, but it is something you have to experience to understand.
When I was in my early 20’s something happened with my sister that I resented for years. I knew that it wasn’t even really her fault, but it did have a significant effect on my life, and I wasn’t happy. I would still talk to her, but only when I had to. My resentment put distance between us and made our relationship cold. One day I realized that I was being silly, she is my only sister, and our relationship could be more pleasant and fun. All I had to do was forgive her. I also had to forgive myself for holding on to my resentment for so long. After I forgave her, family gatherings become more enjoyable, and the whole family is closer now.
‘To err is human; to forgive is divine.’ Alexander Pope
How to forgive
Step 1 Start with the intention of wanting to feel inner peace
I always like baby steps. So this can be merely saying that I intend to want inner peace. You would not be reading this if you weren’t interested in inner peace, so this step should be a given.
Step 2 Check your ego at the door
If you are still feeling self-righteous and justified about your anger, then it is probably your ego stamping its feet. Your ego likes nothing better than to feel important, and being mad at someone makes it feel important. You know the old saying, “Do you want to be right or happy? The need to be right, comes from the ego. The desire to be happy is from your soul.
Step 3 Decide that you want to forgive.
You may not feel ready to forgive and let that be okay. Now that you know how great forgiveness can feel, maybe you can decide that you want to want to forgive. Let that be enough for now. And if you don’t want to forgive at all, let that be okay too; just do it mindfully, knowing that you are keeping yourself from deep inner peace.
Step 4 Try to look at the situation without emotions attached.
Maybe you weren’t in a positive state of mind, at the time, and read something into the situation that wasn’t meant. Wait until you are in a good mood and look back at the situation with curiosity. Try to merge with the person and see the problem from their point of view. You are trying to discover what their frame of mind might have been and what motivated them to act as they did. Try to detach from yourself and the emotions you were feeling at the time.
You can see the situation like you are watching a movie on a screen. Watch the situation unfold as if you are observing two strangers going through the same scenario. Again be curious and see it from both sides. Try to see beyond the surface and work out what was really going on with both people. What were they feeling? What had happened before this meeting that might have put them in a negative frame of mind? Are there any mitigating circumstances to the behaviour of either of them?
Maybe after doing this exercise, you see things in a new way, and you can automatically forgive.
If not ready to forgive, but you want to, because you now know it is the best thing you can do for yourself, then you need to look at your underlying emotions. It’s time to discover and release these stuck emotions. Sometimes you can do this once, and you are totally over it. Other times the feelings may come back. If they do, don’t sweat it – just go through the process of release again.
The emotions you have aren’t a problem. Sometimes there is good reason to feel sad or angry or hurt. Problems arise when we hang on to or try to deny that we are feeling them. They get stored in the body and can cause physical and emotional problems down the line. So, it is essential to acknowledge how we feel and do something to get it out of our bodies. But do so in a way that doesn’t inflict harm on anyone else.
If you are still feeling too hurt or angry to forgive, try the following ways to release the anger or hurt
- Beat a pillow
- Put on some loud music and do an angry dance
- Write a letter to the person telling them exactly how you feel and why, then burn the letter releasing all your emotions to the heavens.
- Scream. One night when I resigned from a job because I thought I had been treated entirely unfairly, on the way home, when I stopped at traffic lights, I beat the stirring wheel and screamed in the car
The belief that helps me forgive when I am upset with someone is that everyone is doing the best they can with the given circumstances. This means I can give people the benefit of the doubt. We can’t know the pain and unhappiness that someone else has lived through. And even if we think we know everything about someone’s life, we still can’t judge what they are actually going through. What is highly traumatic to one person has little effect on someone else.
The most important thing is to be gentle with yourself. Let it be okay if you’re not ready to forgive. One day you will be, and that will be a beautiful and freeing day. And now that your higher heart loves you no matter what.
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