If you are feeling motionless in your life, it is time to do an inventory and see where you are holding grievances. This pain that we hold onto blocks our energy flow. Once we begin the process of forgiveness, fluidity begins to be restored in our emotions and in our life.
In the practice of forgiveness, it’s never about the other person. It’s not a get out of free card for someone who has hurt us. It is about finding peace for ourselves. And it is not weak to forgive someone. It takes a ton of courage to face our wounds and to take responsibility for healing ourselves.
Forgiveness does not mean that we are door mats. It does not mean that we are going to give someone a second chance (or third or fourth) that doesn’t deserve it. And it does not mean that we condone disrespectful & hurtful behavior. True forgiveness actually frees us from these cycles. It allows us to see someone else’s flaws and wounds without them causing us any pain. And without that pain, we are less apt to fall prey to someone else’s dysfunction and /or be attracted to it.
Holding onto resentments in and of itself is painful. Someone may have hurt us once, but by holding onto that pain, we are the ones injuring ourselves on a daily basis.
But ironically, it can be very difficult to release these judgments. It can feel terrifying to let go of a judgment, a wound, a pain from the past because we begin to define ourselves by our wounds (consciously or not) and it is as if we don’t know who we are without them.
And of course, there is the part of us that believes the other person deserves our fury. They don’t deserveto be forgiven. But while hating someone else mayharm that person, we are most definitely battered by the process. Vitriol is poison. As Pema Chodron says, “We’d be wise to question why we hold a grudge as if it were going to make us happy and ease our pain. It’s rather like eating rat poison and thinking the rat will die.” And yet, sometimes that rat poison looks pretty intoxicating.
There is no other way to be happy than to follow the path of forgiveness. It is not possible to be happy, joyful and at peace and to actively hate someone. It's just not possible. And so if we want to be free, if we want to create our lives moment by moment, always going towards true joy and enlightenment, we have to forgive the past and that includes our own transgressions.
But how? There are several methods that I find helpful.
1. Give it all over to the universe. Acknowledge that you need help releasing and focus simply on that - releasing the whole situation and all your feelings around it, to the great divine. The simple act of releasing it - releases you.
2. Imagine the person you are angry with as a small child, innocent and just wanting love and affection. Everyone's indiscretions and missteps come from somewhere and it is usually from fear and trying to protect themselves. If we can see their innocence and have compassion for their fear and pain, we escape feeling the victim.
3. Write them a letter (send it or not). I like to write letters that I don't send - that way, I'm able to be brutally honest and express myself truthfully. This should not be a tool for fueling our anger but rather letting it go. Personally, in my life, there is no relationship that has gone awry that I don't wish for peace. Our anger obscures that truth, but if you look deeply and could have a peaceful resolution or reconciliation in every situation, wouldn't you want that? Use these letters, to express your deepest wounds and your deepest desire for peace.
4. When I am angry at someone, I often have the mantra that I repeat to myself all day long, " I forgive and release _______." I may still feel angry and hurt but actively going for forgiveness gives me a sense of purpose and joy.
These techniques are just as useful (if not more so) when applied to ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves first and foremost for everything. Directing anger towards ourselves is not only painful but it's destructive. How can we create our beautiful lives if we are withholding love from ourselves? In any moment in time, we did the best that we could - however lousy our efforts were. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. You are the only you you've got.
If we want to heal our lives, we have to heal our hearts. And that means doing the dirty work of forgiving those that have deeply hurt us. Make no mistake, it can take time and it can be difficult. It is a daily practice and one that often feels counterintuitive... I want to forgive this person, WHY AGAIN?!!
You do, because you want you want peace and joy: to be free of that pain and suffering in your life. And through forgiveness, you have the power to free yourself. But it can be a real bitch.