“The day a child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent;
the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult;
the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.” – Alden Nowlan
Much has been written about forgiveness – forgiving others for an offense or hurt in the past, and forgiving ourselves for something we feel ashamed of. Whether its about external or internal forgiveness, it seems to come down to one important key … Our ability to let go.
I’ve discovered in my interactions and conversations with others, that the more we tend to try to control and want things in a certain way, the harder it can be to forgive.
Forgiveness and an ability to let go, seem to go hand in hand.
I wonder how this resonates with you. Do you find it relatively easy to forgive in a world that is constantly changing? Do you live in shades of colors and gray rather than black and white? Can you empathise easily with others?
Or do you find it almost impossible to forgive when you have been wronged? Do you also see the world in terms of a right way and a wrong way. Do you rush to judge others as good and bad or want to find who is to blame?
Let me know if my theory stands up in real life!
Here are the 4 steps that have worked for me in working through forgiving myself or an other:
1. Acknowledge what happened and the hurt. Your distress is coming from the thoughts within you now, not from what offended or hurt you in the past.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha
2. Make a decision to forgive or not. Do I want to hold on to resentment or let it go? Do I want to feel like this? We are under no obligation or pressure to forgive. However, holding a grudge becomes a debilitating drain on our health and can poison our outlook on life. We become a prisoner to it.
When we truly forgive, we are doing it for our sake, not the other person’s. It is the most important step in healing ourselves from the hurt of the past. Forgiving brings us the gift of peace.
3. Seek to understand. Can I see the other person’s perspective or point of view? You don’t need to accept or agree with them at all. Remember that we all want to be happy. To be loved and accepted. How we go about it is based on our own life experiences and upbringing. A bully has almost always been bullied themselves. People who are causing us pain are usually in pain. This is the human condition.
4. Shift your own perspective. What do I want this pain to turn into? Instead of going over in your mind why something happened, or how horrible the actions were, visualize what your life will be like after the pain is gone.
Start seeking ways to get what you want. Look for love, beauty and kindness around you. Its there!
Forgiving and letting go is an act of will and an act of courage.
By letting go of the anger and resentment within you and replacing it with compassion for yourself, you become free. Free to be you – and no longer a victim defined by an other’s actions.