Tag: Life Lessons

The Freedom of Forgiveness

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“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
― Nelson Mandela

 

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
― Oprah Winfrey

Forgiveness is not about pretending something didn’t happen, surrendering, accepting injustice, or being weak. It is about acknowledging what happened and moving past it, hopefully with more wisdom and enlightenment.

When we hold onto the feelings caused by a wrongdoing—anger, resentment, fear, hurt, shame—we keep ourselves imprisoned in that story. We relive the injustice and its effects on us, which prolongs the pain and can even cause it to grow. Releasing our feelings through forgiveness releases us from the story.

The following are some ways to facilitate the process of forgiveness:

Try to separate the facts from the story. Think of how your situation would be presented in a scientific journal. Only things that could be proven would be included, and anything not directly observed would be considered a hypothesis or prediction. Anything related to emotions, feelings, and hearsay would be useless to a scientist. This exercise can help untangle emotions from events to provide a more objective view of what happened.

Remember that this involves another human being. We all make mistakes. While being human doesn’t excuse us when we do something that is considered “wrong,” it is helpful to remember we all have faults, weaknesses, and errors in judgment.

Examine why you feel the way you do. Perhaps your feelings are tied to a previous betrayal, or the person’s actions brought up issues with which you are struggling but have nothing to do with this person. Knowing specifically what you are upset about and why can shed light on the real issue. It can also allow you to have a clear conversation with the person you want to forgive, if you decide to talk with them about it.

Make a commitment to forgiveness. Sometimes we say we want something, but don’t really want it or aren’t ready for it. To forgive someone and move on, we have to truly want to forgive that person. Give the same kind of focus and energy to forgiveness as you would a meaningful goal or intention. Imagine your desired future relationship with that person, or if dissolution of that relationship is in order, imagine yourself making peace with that decision and moving on in a way that is supportive to you. You may want to try Loving-Kindness Meditation.

Be gentle with yourself. Forgiveness can be difficult when the wounds are fresh. If you do not understand the reasons behind the injustice, or you can’t find any positive light from the experience, you may not be ready or willing to forgive. It often does not happen overnight, and it is also not something you master like a learned skill. Forgiveness is the subject of many spiritual teachings and can be viewed as a daily spiritual practice. Therefore, allow yourself to see forgiveness as a journey, not a destination you must reach. Try to release any self-judgment in the process. Forgiveness starts with you.


Experiencing the Journey to Live Our Dreams

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” –Paolo Coehol, The Alchemist

So many times we hear commonly shared wisdom like “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of traveling.” But what does that mean? Like many things, in theory it sounds great, but it’s not quite that simple when put into real practice.

How do we know where to start? Does the journey begin, as they say, at the very first step? Or does it come after recognizing our reality as it currently stands and adjusting it accordingly?

We’re inundated with many conflicting ideas on creating a path to our best life. Everyone has a different interpretation of happiness, destiny, dreams and what they all mean. They’re ubiquitous, elusive ideals that are describable, but indefinable. Ideals we continually strive for, but most interestingly, can’t see, much less concretely understand.

When we step out into the darkness, on the beginning of a new journey, the first key is consciousness, particularly in terms of understanding ourselves— our strengths, shortcomings, quirks and other characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. Assessing them; making peace with imperfections and striving for improvement are all acknowledged in this step— allowing us to continue forward.

In our second step, we create conscious action. We walk with a sense of purpose; utilizing new skills learned, old habits reformed. Beginning to experience the essence of joy; with a renewed sense of purpose in our personal goals— as well as a better understanding of and appreciation for, our true, work-in-progress selves. 

After we’ve come to begin our realization of who we really are, on our journey, right now, we’ve become conscious of ourselves and our surroundings, allowing us to move on to the next step.

Continual Acceptance. This is knowing that things will change. Wishes, plans, predicted paths; they’re all subject to detour. There is no guarantee where the road will lead, and that’s the beauty of it. The enlightenment of it all. When we allow the universe to unfold as it will, we begin to experience life, truly live it, instead of attempting to dictate our self-justified will.

Gifts are bestowed upon on us when we’re actively aware of what is happening in our immediate now. It’s the subtle shifts we make, allowing a force larger than ourselves be our guide. Giving us the gracious opportunities the universe has in store for us; the essence of living the life that we dream, so long as we decided to look and listen.