In my last blog I suggested you make a list of family members and close friends and attach one word to each person to demonstrate the way they dealt with forgiveness. It is important to think about the messages you may have internalized up to this point in your life. It’s rather like taking a base line measurement to determine how you were trained to handle situations that were hurtful or demeaning. Some people stew about things for years and want to tell us at every opportunity how they were wronged. Others have learned to look at what happened and learn from it. They don’t forget an injustice but simply refuse to give it any emotional energy after the fact. They move on realizing they have learned an important life lesson but refuse to carry the weight or burden of resentment. They realize that withholding forgiveness will just harden their own heart.
Forgiveness is recognizing an injustice that happened but refusing to let it control your future. It is used when someone admits and takes ownership for something that caused pain to another. It is both an art and skill worth developing. Many times we can observe others and learn from them. In the book, A Course in Miracles, forgiveness was defined as letting go of all hope for a better PAST. When you think about it in those terms it makes sense. No one can go back and change the past. Better to learn from it and remember to be more prepared in the future than to hold on to the past and waste even one more second on what you wish had happened.
Who from your list of family or friends is good at forgiveness? Can you see this person dealing with a difficult situation but refusing to be sidelined through anger, revenge, isolation or other negative emotions? Who in your group is good at holding onto a grudge? Which person seems happier? Which person gives you more energy when you are around them? Who do you choose to emulate?
Learning to forgive yourself is the first step in learning true forgiveness. We bring to the game all that we have and know at the moment. We are not perfect and do not have all the answers but are learning along the way. Each life experience gives us the chance to become more fully functioning human beings or not – the choice is always up to us. Learning to forgive ourselves and others is a crucial step in living a life worth remembering.
Forgiveness is like all the other lessons we are presented with in life. Until we learn it, it will continue to resurface again and again in our lives. When we have a deeper understanding, we can stop the pattern. Tomorrow is a good day to start practicing forgiveness. Are you ready?
Have a great few days!