Forgiving others is essential for living a beautiful life. Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while painful, is now nothing more than a thought or feeling that you carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will dis-empower you if you continue to let these thoughts occupy space in your head. If you could release them, you would know more happiness.
Six steps to forgiveness and living a beautiful life:
Step 1: Understanding Yourself
Whenever you’re upset over the conduct of others, take the focus off those you’re holding responsible for your inner distress. Shift your mental energy to allowing yourself to be with whatever you’re feeling — let the experience be as it may, without blaming others for your feelings. Don’t blame yourself either! Just allow the experience to unfold and tell yourself that no one has the power to make you uneasy without your consent, and that you’re unwilling to grant that authority to this person right now.
By taking responsibility for how you choose to respond to anything or anyone, you’re aligning yourself with the beautiful dance of life. By changing the way you choose to perceive the power that others have over you and you will see a bright new world of unlimited potential for yourself and you will know instantly how to forgive and let go of anything.
Step 2: Take Responsibility for Your Part
Avoid thoughts and activities that involve telling people who are perfectly capable of making their own choices what to do. In your family, remember that you do not own anyone. The poet Kahlil Gibran reminds you:
When you blame another you are giving your own power away, because you are placing the responsibility for your feelings on someone else. People in our lives may behave in ways that trigger uncomfortable responses in us. However they did not get into our minds and create the buttons that have been pushed.
Taking responsibility for our own feelings and reactions is mastering our ability to respond. In other words we begin to consciously choose rather than simply react.
Removing blame means never assigning responsibility to anyone else for what you’re experiencing. It means that you’re willing to say, “I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I’ve been victimized, or why I had this accident, but I’m willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it. I live with, and I am responsible for, having it in my life.”
If you take responsibility for having the experience, then at least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning from it. If you’re in some small (perhaps unknown) way responsible for that migraine headache or that depressed feeling, then you can go to work to remove it or discover what its message is for you. If, on the other hand, someone or something else is responsible in your mind, then of course you’ll have to wait until they change for you to get better. And that is unlikely to occur. So you go home with nothing and are left with nothing when peace is really on the other side of the coin.
Step 3: Release the Past – Be Present
Forgiveness of yourself and of others will release you from the prison of the past.
Only in your present moment can you create your future. If you are holding onto the past, you cannot be in the present. How can you be happy in this moment if you continue to choose to think angry and resentful thoughts?
Thoughts of bitterness cannot create joy, no matter how justified you feel you are, no matter what they did, if you insist on holding on to the past then you will never be free.
When you do not flow freely with life in the present moment, it usually means you are holding onto a past moment. It can be regret, sadness, hurt, fear, or guilt, blame, anger, resentment, and sometimes a desire for revenge. Each state comes from a refusal to let go and come into the present moment.
Step 4: Refrain from Judgement
When you stop judging and simply become an observer, you will know inner peace. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself happier and free of the negative energy of resentment. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you. A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy.
My criticism and condemnation of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others—regardless of how right and moral my human self-convinces me it is—is a step away from God-realization. And it is God-consciousness that allows for my wishes to be fulfilled, as long as they are aligned with my Source of being. I can come up with a long list of reasons why I should be judgmental and condemnatory toward another of God’s children and why, damn it, I am right. Yet if I want to perfect my own world—and I so want to do so—then I must substitute love for these judgments.
Step 5: Let Go
What causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? The generic response would be a laundry list detailing why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, concluding with something like, “I have a right to be upset when my [daughter, mother-in-law, ex-husband, boss, or whomever you’re thinking of] speaks to me that way!”
Rather than attempting to dominate with your forcefulness, be like water: flow everywhere there’s an opening. Soften your hard edges by being more tolerant of contrary opinions. Interfere less, and substitute listening for directing and telling. When someone offers you their viewpoint, try responding with: “I’ve never considered that before—thank you. I’ll give it some thought.”
Step 6: Choose to think thoughts that make you feel good right now
The act of forgiveness happens in your own mind, it really has nothing to do with the other person. The reality of true forgiveness lies in setting ourselves free from holding onto the pain. It is simply an act of releasing yourself from the negative energy. You forgive them and release them.
You can choose to think thoughts that make you feel good right now. You can choose to practice thinking thoughts that create a positive today and tomorrow. Know that you will be creating thinking habits that will serve you well forever.
You have a choice. You can choose to stay stuck and bitter or you can do yourself a favor by willingly forgiving the past and let it go and move on to create a joyous, fulfilling life. You have the freedom to make life anything you want it to be because you have freedom of choice.