When we believe we have been wronged, our ego often takes over, forcing us to react in a way that we wouldn’t normally choose. This reaction includes anger, resentment, betrayal, blame, depression, low self-esteem, and more. And, when we carry this negative energy around with us about someone, that negative energy just sits in our bodies, eating away at us. In this state, we are primed for more of the same in the future as we easily overreact to the mere mention of a name, or a reminder of the situation, which begins the dreadful story of betrayal all over again in our mind, as if it just happened, though it most likely has been over for months, or even years.
We could forgive the other person, but that comes at a major cost. Many of us believe that if we forgive someone, it will validate what they allegedly did to us. This is a major misunderstanding of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t for others—it’s for us. We don’t really have the power to forgive another. We are not the omnipotent one who grants forgiveness. The truth is, it’s not really our job to forgive others. The real job is to forgive ourselves. When we forgive ourselves, we don’t even think about forgiving someone else. It’s a moot point. The healing that needs to take place automatically happens the moment we forgive ourselves.
For much of my life, I thought I had to forgive others and I couldn’t always do that. It left me unhappy, stressed, bitter and feeling less love. Then, at some point, I realized my life wasn’t as easy, as healthy, or as happy as it could be and part of that was because I wouldn’t forgive others, but mostly it was because I wouldn’t forgive myself. And this is important — it wasn’t that I couldn’t forgive, it was that I wouldn’t forgive.
When I realized all of this, I just didn’t want to live this way anymore. I wanted to be free from the burdens I was carrying and feel better about my life. Something had to change.
What You Hold on to Holds on to You
When we don’t forgive, we become stuck in our lives. We are tied to the negativity and the misery of a difficult and challenging situation that is now over. What happened is in the past and there is no need to carry the past with us in this way. All we need to do is take the important message from the situation and move on without the drama, without the hard feelings, the grudges, the name calling, the cursing and the stress. The truth is we all make mistakes. Everyone is really doing the best they can, just like you and me.
When we forgive, by definition, we give up a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, an insult, or an injury. When we stop resenting people and situations in life, we release ourselves from the pain brought on by the “persistent ill will”. More than that, though, when we forgive ourselves, we stop resenting ourselves and we are finally released from our deep, unnecessary pain and suffering.
Some people say they can’t forgive, but everyone CAN forgive. There is a difference between being unwilling to forgive and being capable of it. If you aren’t willing to forgive yourself, or someone else if, ask yourself Why? Dig deep to uncover the reason or reasons you are holding onto these negative feelings, keeping yourself separate from others, or not allowing yourself to be free from such suffering. Perhaps your unwillingness to forgive is simply so you can continue to be unhappy and suffer. Maybe it validates some I’m not good enough story within. Whatever it is, you don’t need it. Perhaps you will see that if you forgive, then there is no story of unhappiness to tell. There is no more pain and suffering. From today forth, you no longer have to hold another person or yourself hostage anymore. It is time to accept what happened as it happened, accept the other person’s role in the experience, accept your role in your own life experience, and be free.
There’s a saying I have, “What you hold onto holds onto you.” I now know that I was being held a prisoner by my mind, by my feelings of inadequacy, by my made up righteousness, or whatever other story my mind wanted to tell. I didn’t realize how wonderful I would feel, how much personal peace I would have and how much more balanced my life would be with forgiveness.
So, it’s time to let go. It’s time to forgive and be free from the pain of the past. See if you can think of someone that you can forgive today. There will be someone you can forgive. I didn’t think I could forgive anyone, but I had a friend help me do something that may work for you, too. I took an afternoon and, with my friend by my side, I made a list of all of the people I believed put daggers in my back over the years. One by one, I wrote the names down on the paper. Two pages later, front and back, I was done. Then I read each name aloud and said, “I forgive you and me for anything that happened during that time. I learned the lesson I needed to help me in my life. I can now let go and forgive us both.” When the last name was read, I took the paper, put it in the kitchen sink and let the water fall on it – a kind of cleansing. As the water began to mix with the ink, the names disappeared like magic. Then I flushed the paper down the toilet to give it a proper burial. I was done.
One name wasn’t one the list, though. Mine. I needed to forgive myself in order to be truly healed and free. So, I began the process of forgiving myself for this situation, that mistake, this lacking moment and that thing I said that I wish I wouldn’t have said. One by one, I accepted myself in each situation, accepting each one as a life experience instead of something to cling to, continuing the pain and suffering. I was on my way to healing my life in a deeper, more authentic way. I was on my way to freedom.