Forgiveness Means Setting Yourself Free


Forgiveness is something that many people struggle with on a daily basis. If you take out a pen and paper, or just make a mental list, you could probably think of at least 10, 50, or even 100 people whom you have a resentment towards. Most people have them, and most people believe that they are justified in having them. Choosing to be peaceful is always more powerful than wanting to be right, though.

When you choose to forgive, you are actually taking back your own personal power. You are putting your own inner peace above holding onto hostility and anger. Staying continuously angry at someone only gives them your power, as if you are a puppet with that person maneuvering the strings.

What is the Purpose of Holding Onto Resentments?

The main purpose is that we feel like forgiving someone is letting them off the hook and excusing them for what they did. We may think it is sending a message that what happened is okay. Forgiveness, though, has nothing to do with that other person and everything to do with us. We forgive for ourselves and our own peace of mind.

Holding onto a resentment is similar to hoisting a 200 pound weight up a mountain. The more you go along, the heavier and heavier that weight feels. The more that you move through life with those resentments, the more that they will eat away at you and possibly manifest into the physical in the form of illness or disease.

Another reason that people hold on so tightly to resentments is because there is something deep within them that feels like the past should and could have been different. I heard Oprah Winfrey say something very powerful recently. She said that, "forgiveness is letting go of the idea that the past could be any different than what it was."

This was an eye-opening moment for me when I heard this because there is so much truth to it. By refusing to forgive and let go, we are refusing to accept that the past was the way that it was and there is nothing that can be done to change it.

That is the first step to forgiveness.

1. Acceptance

The first step in making any lasting change in our lives is accepting what is. This in no way means that what happened was okay, but rather just an inner acceptance that it happened and then making a conscious choice to move forward from there.

There is nothing that can be done to change the situation no matter how hard we try. One of the most painful things for people is refusing to accept the reality of things. Thinking that something should be different than what it is in the moment only causes us to spin our wheels. We can, however, make a choice to create changes in our lives and to create the reality that we desire.

2. Bring the Focus to Yourself

How can anyone move forward when they are constantly rehashing the same old thoughts in their head? We play that same tape over and over of what that person did and we then get angry all over again. I know, I have done this many times myself and still catch myself replaying the tape again.

What helps me is to become aware of when I am doing this. It means being aware of the thoughts that enter your mind throughout the day and assessing whether they are productive or unproductive. If you notice yourself playing out what that other person did, stop and look at yourself. What was the role that you played in the situation? How could you have done things differently?

3. Put Yourself Into Their Shoe

Next, you can take a moment to place yourself into the other person's shoes and view life from their perspective. Perhaps they have their own deep, personal issues that have never been dealt with and in fact, it was nothing personal against you at all. You just happened to be in the midst of the crossfire.

Usually when people are pretty unhappy within, they treat others in similar ways that they treat themselves. It is the same when someone feels great and is content. They are more than likely nicer and more loving because that is how they treat themselves.

Practice having compassion for the person and for where they are at in their lives. If they were a conscious, aware person, I doubt that they would have behaved in the same way.

4. Forgive Yourself

Have you completely forgiven yourself for actions that you have done in your life or supposed mistakes (aka great learning experiences) that you made? Maybe now is a good time to start because if you are unforgiving towards others, then you are probably unforgiving towards and hard on yourself, too.

There is nothing that can be done to change the past. Plus, I know that when I have done things in my life that later caused me to cringe, it is because I was a different person back then and in a different state of mind. Hindsight is usually 20/20. I am sure that the person that I am today would act and react differently, so it is time to practice some Self-love regarding the situation.

Most of us have had those types of moments in our lives, so just know that others have definitely experienced similar things. When you can forgive yourself and are kind and loving to yourself, it makes it far easier to do the same with others.

Forgiveness is rarely easy, yet is so simple. It is a matter of making a conscious choice, moment by moment, to practice compassion and understanding as resentful thoughts come up. Pretty soon, after this is practiced enough, a new way of being sets in. A way of being that is more loving and peaceful. Our focus and attention can then be placed on other matters rather than being stuck in the past.

Can you think of someone at this moment that you can forgive? If so, send them your love and set yourself free.
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