In last week’s show, we spoke about why some people choose not to forgive and why it’s essential to do so. There are many reasons and two of the biggest are: they feel the person is not deserving of being forgiven; 2. they feel that should they grant pardon, the other party will think the incident was not serious, will not have to be held accountable, or may very well repeat the offense. Although none of these is true, they are considered by many to be valid reasons. However, as I stated previously, to withhold absolution can have dire consequences for the one who was harmed.
“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (unknown)
The act of exoneration has multiple benefits including freeing one from anger, animosity, bitterness, hatred or thoughts of revenge. It restores inner peace and joy. It reduces the risk of physical and emotional maladies or from interfering with having other healthy relationships. It also keeps the door open for a possible reconciliation of both parties at some point in the future. Forgiveness is not for the other person; it is a gift you give yourself, the gift of serenity.
Assuming you have made the decision to let go of the incident, how do you proceed? Forgiveness, for many, is not immediate. It is a process of healing emotionally and spiritually and can take some time. Keep in mind: one need not forgive and forget. To forget what has transpired, such as an assault, puts one at risk for the incident to reoccur. Forgive but remember without negative emotions. Keep in mind, too, that while some believe the old adage that time heals all wounds, in truth time heals nothing. It is the act of pardoning that heals.
Here are some steps you can take to let go of the anger and move beyond the incident.
1. Keep in mind that all of us are human and mistakes, selfish acts, fear, betrayals, disappointments and such are all a normal part of the human experience. One cannot journey through life without ever offending or disappointing others. To forgive means to refrain from judgment and to make allowances for man’s imperfections.
2. Change your perception of the person or incident. Life isn’t about truth and reality; it is about perception – how we choose to see others or the world. Perception is simply a thought. We choose a thought, either one that is kind or judgmental. So ask yourself, “Am I being fair in my assessment of this person or incident? Was there a misunderstanding? Am I over reacting to what happened?” Your thoughts create your feelings (refer to T~E~~C~O Magic*). Therefore, all one really needs to do to change how they feel is to change what they are thinking. See the offender through the eyes of kindness, understanding, and fairness.
“Do not judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.” – Native American philosophy
3. Realize that every experience that enters your life is a critical part of your life’s journey. Each person and situation provides the opportunity for you to fulfill your Divine Destiny and to bring you into closer communion with God. Rather than find fault with or complain about what happened, find its value. Be grateful for the opportunity to further your spiritual development. Gratitude thwarts anger and bitterness.
4. Pray. Prayer is a powerful form of communication with the Divine. It’s like holding on to the hand of a fire fighter as he guides you out of a burning building to safety. Conversation with God provides us with guidance, comfort, and the strength to do God’s Will rather than succumbing to our anger or desires, for our need for justice. Our first responsibility is always to abide by the Father’s directives, not to surrender to our ego. “Align with the Divine” is a simple but powerful mantra to remind us that we must always respond to life from a spiritual perspective, in a way reflective of God’s Love.
Also, it’s important to pray for the one who committed the offense. Rather than seeking revenge, pray for their healing, for whoever commits a hateful act upon another is in need of healing not punishment. God’s Way is to heal and our way must be His Way. James 5: tells us to “Pray for others so that you may be healed.” This is a prayer I recite for those who have betrayed me:
“Heavenly Father, please help _____ to keep their heart and mind open to you today and everyday, allowing you to work through them, with them, and in them, helping them to become the person you created them to be. And help me also to remember every day that what is happening between them and me is not between the two of us. It is always between you and I. Amen.”
If necessary, one can also take the following steps towards forgiving:
1. Discuss with the other person what happened and why for the sole purpose of understanding their position. Clear up any misunderstandings. Discuss facts only. Refrain from blame or excuses. Accept responsibility for your part.
2. Discuss how each person felt. This may be uncomfortable but is necessary to more fully understand the impact this incident has had on both parties.
3. Decide what you both want to happen now. Do you want a reconciliation, a chance to rebuild your relationship, or would it be best to part ways, amicably? What can each party do to accomplish this?
4. Focus on and remember everything good about the person. Remember, thoughts dictate feelings. One act of bad judgment does not erase all the good in someone.
5. Separate the behavior from the individual. Behaviors are not who we are; they are outward expressions of our internal environment and issues. Remind yourself that this person is still a sacred child of God, deserving of love and forgiveness.
6. Detach and let go of all negative feelings. Revisit the incident as an objective observer, not an active participant.
7. Extract the value of the experience. Learn the lessons, be grateful, let go, and move forward.
Keeping in mind that this experience is a process and may take time and effort, how does one know if they have in fact truly forgiven the other party?
When the following elements are present:
1. Have you let go of the need to discuss it? It has served its purpose and needs no more of your time or energy.
2. Can you think about the offender without anger or animosity?
3. If you came face-to-face with them, would you feel at ease?
4. Are you at peace with what happened although not necessarily happy about it?
5. Does the thought of the other party suffering for their offense cause you sadness?
6. Can you be grateful for the experience and see how it has actually been a blessing in your life?
Remember, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It is the ultimate act of self-love for it enables you to live in the peace and joy that God intended for you.
Mark 11: 25 “And when you stand praying if you hold anything against anyone forgive them so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.”
I invite you to watch a very powerful video on the importance of forgiveness at www.FromGodWithLove.net.
*T~E~~C~O Magic* in The Secret Side of Anger
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