We all have people in our lives who have disappointed us or who have let us down; people who have taken something from us or have left us feeling withered and broken. These people may have lied, cheated, hurt, abused, and caused a great deal of pain. These people may have caused you so much hurt that there is no possible way you could ever imagine forgiving them, let alone sending them loving energy. Often these situations haunt you for the rest of your life . . . unless you can find forgiveness inside of yourself.
“You practice forgiveness for two reasons: to let others know that you no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with them and to free yourself from the self-defeating energy of resentment. Send love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better you feel.” —Wayne Dyer
It’s time to look at forgiveness in a whole new light. Forgiveness is not about saying that what the person did was right, nor is forgiveness about condoning someone’s bad behavior. Forgiveness is about accepting events in a way that allows you to send love and healing to the person and the event so that you can move on. Let’s say a good friend lied to you. Obviously this would be painful because you considered the person to be someone you trusted and respected. Whether you choose to stay friends with this person or not is your choice, but either way you need to heal from the hurt. And the only way you can heal is through forgiveness. Even though you are not condoning the act, forgiving your friend is about accepting what happened in a way that allows you to let go of any pain or anger and move on without holding a grudge.
When you can find it in your heart to forgive, it also will be a lot easier for you to let go of the situation and to break any negative attachments to those involved. Finding forgiveness may be difficult at first, but if you simply open up some space to even consider forgiveness, then you’ve made a positive step. You may be surprised at just how healing even that small step can be. Perhaps consider for a moment how you may feel if you forgave yourself and others for all the things that you have been holding on to. Forgiveness is mostly about bringing you peace, because without forgiveness you may have great difficulty moving on and creating a life that allows you to trust others and yourself.
HOLDING ON TO GUILT
A friend of mine was having a rough breakup with her boyfriend. I was friends with both of them, so I often felt as if I was caught in the middle of their arguments. Their fighting got so bad at one point that each of them would call me to vent. Eventually I grew tired of being the middleman and felt it necessary to set some boundaries. One day my friend called me and wanted to stay over for the night. She had a terrible fight with her boyfriend and didn’t want to go back to their shared place. In the moment when she asked me, I felt so tired and fed up with their antics that I told her no. I told her that she really needed to face up to whatever issues she was having and sort them out once and for all. She accepted the answer, but actually ended up staying at another friend’s house for the night.
After saying no to my friend and finding out she went elsewhere, waves of guilt started flooding in. How could I have done that to her? How could I have turned her away when she was in need? I put myself in her shoes and knew that if I was in her position I too would have wanted to count on my friend to be there for me when I needed her. These thoughts continued to build and build until they began eating away at me. It didn’t matter that my friend had accepted my no; deep down on the inside I was beating myself up for it every single day. Eventually time passed and the guilt was pushed away and forgotten.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized this guilt had really affected our friendship. The effects weren’t immediate or even noticeable, but the guilt had caused a shift in the friendship. Because I felt so guilty, I started overcompensating in the friendship and began giving away a lot of my time and energy in order to make up for it. This eventually changed the friendship and made it very difficult to maintain.
When one individual is holding on to guilt or uncomfortable emotions that are not expressed, on some level the growth and development of the relationship is thwarted. Even though the events were long gone and forgotten, the energy of it stayed alive within me and ended up being a contributing factor to the gradual falling apart of our friendship. In fact, it wasn’t until this friendship fell apart that I realized just how much guilt I was carrying around about that one event, and how it had made me feel about the friendship. Once I was able to identify the guilt it created space for me to start forgiving myself.
There are many ways to practice forgiveness, but in this situation I simply accepted the guilt and repeated to myself “I forgive you.” Instantly, this allowed me to feel at peace. This is a small example, but it allows you to see just how holding on to these emotions and not forgiving yourself or others can really damage the trust that you feel in your relationships and with life at large. No matter what you have done, no matter how you have hurt someone or betrayed someone or even seemingly ruined their life, there is always room to forgive yourself. You are always worthy of forgiveness, and when you can find it in your heart to forgive, waves of peace that you so very much deserve will follow.
Exercise: How to Forgive Yourself
Forgiving yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do. Guilt and shame will never serve you, so give permission to let them go and forgive yourself. Here is how: Place your hand over your heart, close your eyes, and take two to three deep breaths in and out. Repeat softly to yourself, “I forgive you.” Keep repeating this statement twenty-one times with feeling. Notice how easy or difficult it is to say this to yourself.
If tears or other emotions come up for you, don’t block them, just let them flow. Once done, wrap your arms around your shoulders like you are giving yourself a big, warm hug. This exercise is powerful enough, but if you want to dig a little deeper begin journaling any emotions, thoughts, or feelings that came up for you while doing the exercise. Repeat this exercise daily for at least a week for maximum benefits.
Excerpted from The Power of Positive Energy: Everything you need to awaken your soul, raise your vibration, and manifest an inspired life by Tanaaz Chubb. Copyright © 2017 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.