All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness… the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives. – Dalai Lama
Forgiveness is a gift… a gift that is so precious and has value only when it is given away.
I’ll bet you don’t exactly feel like giving a GIFT to someone who wronged you, right?
Here are some ways to offer forgiveness, when you think you can’t and the negative energy of anger, hurt and hatred are eating away at you:
- First, understand what forgiveness is not: it is not condoning an action; it is not saying “it’s okay”; it is not justifying bad behavior; it is not forgetting; it is not denial that you were hurt.
- You don’t have to forgive someone face to face. This is an exercise to be done in private, when you are calm.
- Sit in meditation and bring up a face of a person you need to forgive, and the actions or words you need to forgive them for. I say “need” because without forgiveness, there can be no healing and no moving on. This is for YOU.
- In this safe place, think about what may have prompted this person to hurt you. It’s essential to realize that unkind and hurtful words and actions only come from pain. What can this person’s inner pain be? Can you feel compassion for it? That does not excuse the behavior – people always, always have choices in how to act – but it does shed some light on why they lack the self-control to hurt others. No need to psychoanalyze someone, just use your imagination and be compassionate to the pain they must feel inside, that makes them lose control.
Now comes the harder part – releasing the emotional burden. Here are some things to think about:
- As long as you carry a grudge against someone, you will be unhappy. So this is for you, so you can be happy again.
- As long as you feel anger, bitterness and pain, you give that person POWER over you – to make you feel badly. Take back your ability to feel happiness again.
- As long as you refuse to forgive, you are in the grip of ego (feeling wounded and judgmental, and feeling separate from others).
- Whatever hurt you experienced, is in the past – and yet here you are, carrying it with you into the present moment and projecting it into the future. This robs you of any inner peace you can experience right here, right now. Forgiveness lets you let go of the past. Forgiveness dissipates anger, bitterness and resentment, allows the past to stay where it belongs and free you up to enjoy and experience the present. To offer forgiveness free’s you from being consumed with unproductive thoughts – after all, why waste time on thoughts of revenge, or wishing a person ill, when you could be focusing your thoughts on making your life better?
When you offer forgiveness, remember to forgive YOURSELF – stop replaying over and over again every mistake you have ever made. Remember that inner pain that causes people to act in hurtful ways – again, not excusing or condoning the behavior, but shedding compassionate light on it.
Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.