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Practice Forgiveness


Lately I have been thinking about the importance of forgiveness in my everyday life. There was a time when I was completely full of resentment and anger. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I were able to let go of even a little of that hurt. I was in such great amounts of pain from all the wrong doings of others that it colored all of my relationships and experiences. I had a very negative outlook on life and was in a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety without even knowing it. Through the help of spiritual teachers and therapists I have been able to free myself from these resentments and forgive the people that have caused me harm.

Freedom did not come over night. Years of built up anger and frustration did not magically go away after an hour with a psychologist. I have had to do a great deal of work and face parts of myself that did not feel good to face. The thing with resentments is that in order to begin the process of letting go I have to be willing to look at my part. Sure there were some instances where I did not do anything questionable but often the case with me is that the majority of my resentments come from putting myself in a situation that I knew deep down wasn’t for my highest good. Reviewing these situations with others that caused me pain outside my family of origin has been incredibly healing. Learning how to forgive people for what they have done and see where I came into play in that particular instance has given me the ability to have more compassion for myself and for them.

Forgiving others does not mean that we agree with peoples choices and it does not excuse their actions or behaviors. It gives us a path to heal, to take a close look at ourselves and see where we have been hurtful. Forgiveness presents us with the opportunity to practice living in the moment. The other day I was speaking with one of my dearest friends who just took on a new nanny job. One of the girls has been giving her a hard time and this one day she was especially challenging. At the end of that day the girl gave my friend a hug and had a completely different attitude. In a very short amount of time she was able to let go of her issue and be content and free in the present moment. We talked about what a wonderful example this is of letting go and being in the here and now.

How often do we hold grudges and for how long? What would our lives look like if we could practice forgiveness on a regular basis, even daily? What would it take to forgive others? I realize these are big questions. Perhaps we are not ready to forgive. Maybe we need some assistance in knowing where to begin. I am an advocate for seeking help and believe it is a sign of wisdom to seek counsel from teachers, professionals, close friends, or whom ever you choose. I continue to need help in this area as sometimes it is quite difficult to see what part I had to play when I am hurt. It is easy to retreat into this place and just sit with being upset with someone else rather than taking the time to look objectively at the situation and go from there. This is especially difficult where matters of the heart are concerned, I always seek counsel in those situations.

If we want to truly feel light and free and open in this life, forgiveness has to be part of the equation. It is inevitable that we will be hurt again, it might be a tiny ouch, it might be an OUCH, this is part of life. The point is not to avoid the hurt but to learn how to let go. I have had the experience of talking with elderly folks that have not been able to practice forgiveness. They have hung on to their resentments and pain for longer than I have been alive. This brings me great sadness. I often wonder what their lives would have been like or could be without all this resistance to letting go. Some think they are their pain and I can see how scary it would be to let go of that. It is a brave act. A true act of self love.

By forgiving others and releasing our feelings of bitterness and injustice we are able to live in the world with more clarity, freedom, and peace. By forgiving others we excuse the person, not their behavior. By forgiving others we allow our world and heart to open to love and create deeper bonds with those we hold dear. I might be stepping out on a limb here but I believe forgiveness is the heroes path. In order to be heroes in our own life we need to soften our hearts to those that have wounded us and let go of the ill feelings we harbor to make room for our lights to shine even brighter.



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