A few years ago while I was helping a friend with her “resentments”- see 12 step program… I was reminded that the goal of creating this “list of people we feel have harmed us”, is to begin the process of seeing our part and then taking the steps to forgive them. Not for their peace of mind… for our own. This article by Adri Kyser co-founder of Maha Shakti Yoga Teacher training reminded me of that very powerful process of forgiving…
Have you ever felt hurt, betrayed, disappointed or all of the above? In our lifetime, many of us have felt this way one time or another due to the words, actions or lack of action by others. Sometimes people that have hurt us don’t even know what they did. Other times, their actions were intentional and uncalled for. Regardless of the intention, we are the ones that are deeply wounded and carry the pain, hurt and anger within us. Normally, after our initial stage of being hurt (it may be few days, weeks or even months), we try to move on with our lives and let the incident be a thing of the past. It is easier (not easy) to move past the event when we receive a heartfelt apology, but often times we don’t get an apology at all. Unfortunately, we can carry the memory of hurtful events and the feelings associated with them for a long time, taking a toll on our physical, mental and emotional health.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment and even thoughts of revenge. It is a journey to freedom from our past. Learning to forgive can lead to feelings of understanding, compassion and empathy for the one (s) who hurt us. Like Deepak Chopra says “What we don’t recognize is that holding onto resentment is like holding onto your breath. You’ll soon start to suffocate”.
Forgiveness does not change the past nor does it free the person from their responsibility of his /her wrong actions. Forgiving will not erase what happened but it can lessen the intensity on how you remember such events. Forgiveness actually frees you up from the ties that are holding you back. It opens the doors to healing and to new possibilities. Forgiveness is something we do entirely for ourselves.
One of the most common obstacles I find in the process of forgiving is that many people, deep down are expecting an apology. They want the person that hurt them to know the pain his/her actions have caused them. Some even want that person to feel the same pain. This type of thinking does not lead to freedom, inner peace and inner power. As long as you are expecting the other person to apologize or to hurt the same way you have, you are still tied to their hurtful actions. You are giving them your power and peace. You are the only one that can find freedom and strength by forgiving and cutting the ties that bound you to them and their past actions. I know it sounds really simple and easy but I know it is harder that in sounds.
Take a moment here and ask yourself these questions:
– Are you ready to be free?
– Are you ready to be happy?
– Are you ready to let go of the past?
– Are you ready to forgive?
If so, start the process of forgiveness. Here are few things that may help up.
– Be patient with yourself and don’t expect everything to be ok overnight.
– Reflect on the event, the facts, on how you’ve reacted, and how this has affected your life and well-being.
– Actively choose to forgive the person who has offended you.
– Write in a piece of paper the name of the person, the event, and your feelings. Then say a prayer and say you are done with holding on to this and you are finally releasing it and letting it go.
– You can burn the piece of paper as a symbolic act of burning the ties that are preventing you from living a happy, loving and peaceful life.
– If the circumstances allow it, maybe have a polite talk with the person causing you pain. This will close and complete the cycle and hopefully will give you some resolution.
– Pray for their well-being or send them positive energy. They may be going through something in their lives. This one is not as easy but it sure is powerful.
Remember that you are not a victim and you can choose to claim back the control and power you have given consciously or unconsciously to those that have hurt you.
Of course there is also the “Power of Forgiving Ourselves” but I feel that merits a new discussion in itself.
If you have experienced successful tools or actions taken that helped you forgive, I would love to hear about it.