"When you forgive, you in no way change the past -- but you sure do change the future." -- Bernard Meltzer
In my last couple of blogs, I talked about finding your purpose and tapping the energy needed to bring those big dreams into reality. But there's one thing, more than almost anything else that can hold you back and frustrate all your good intentions and hard work.
And that thing is unforgiveness.
Say what? Isn't forgiveness something you do on Sunday or during Yom Kippur? Isn't it for saintly people? What does it have to do with reaching my goals? And aren't there certain things that are simply unforgiveable?
No. No. Everything. And no.
In interviews, seminars and my Huna workshops, I talk a lot about forgiveness and train people in a forgiveness process that the ancient Hawaiians used. This topic and training has as much impact as anything I teach in terms of students reaching their goals and creating the lives they want for themselves. It's a critical practice for both your personal and professional life. And it's a practice that is a cornerstone in my own life.
The lack of forgiveness can throw you totally off your path and distract you from the goals that are important to you. This is obvious when you experience big transgressions like someone cheating on you or betraying you. You find yourself consumed with thoughts and upsetting emotions about the incident for days, months, even years. Most of us recognize that we need to do some form of forgiveness to let the incident go so we can move on with our lives.
But this also applies to smaller incidents. For instance, your boss says something that ticks you off right as you walk into work in the morning. Where's your attention for the next few hours? Is it fully on tackling that difficult project that's waiting on your desk? Is it completely engaged in the important meeting or conference call later in the day? Probably not.
Or what if Starbucks gets your order wrong and you drive off before you notice? Irritating, huh? But doesn't that little bit of irritation sometimes color your whole day? You might end up being impatient with your kids, inattentive to your spouse, or generally cranky to everyone around you. Your energy has been hijacked and is stuck in irritation at some barista you may never see again!
Then, of course, we've got the energy drain that not forgiving yourself creates. Think about it: If you're beating yourself up for not studying as hard as you should have, how relaxed and focused are you as you take the exam? Or if you're holding on to guilt for messing up an important presentation, how effective and expressive will you be when you give the next one?
Forgiveness applies to all the big as well as all the small wrongs you experience -- whether real or imagined. Doing it on a regular basis frees up your energy again and gets you back on track. As author Lewis Smedes wrote, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you."
The Hawaiian code of forgiveness says that there were three types of transgressions, all of which required forgiveness. The first is hala. Hala means missing the mark or erring by omission. It could be procrastinating or not being clear in communicating. Perhaps someone was unaware of your feelings or didn't give a project their best efforts. Maybe your spouse forgot your wedding anniversary! You commit a hala to yourself whenever you feel guilty, repress emotions, or allow someone to cross your personal boundaries. You might commit hala without even knowing it.
The second transgression, hewa, is another offense you can commit without knowing it. Hewa means to go overboard or to be excessive. For example, it's someone who insists on being a perfectionist or is obsessed with something. It could be an addiction or a stubborn opinion. Overeating, drinking too much, or monopolizing a conversation are all types of hewa. You do a hewa to yourself when you hold onto feelings of anger, hatred, or the desire for revenge.
Hawaiians call the third transgression 'ino, which means to do intentional harm to someone with hate in mind. It includes everything from vicious gossip to murder. Internally, an 'ino might be harsh self-judgment or self-deprecation. In the Hawaiian code of forgiveness, you still have to forgive for an 'ino, no matter how big or heinous the crime.
Should we really forgive those horrific transgressions? Yes. In ho'oponopono, the ancient Hawaiian forgiveness practice I teach, you forgive. You let go of the incident and its charge, but you retain the learning. For example, if you've been betrayed, you release all of the hurt and anger, and you may retain a lesson about being more aware and cautious in the future.
As T.D, Jakes says, "Forgiveness is about empowering yourself rather than empowering your past." It's the key to allowing your energy to flow fully in a positive directions without obstruction toward your goals.
In my next post, I'll get into more specifics about ho'oponopono, the process I teach that has been instrumental in allowing me to create the life I love. Until then...
About the Author: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where students learn Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna and Hypnosis. To find out more about Huna, access Dr. Matt's free webinar Huna and Energy Explained: How To Increase Your Personal Mana/Energy - Part 1
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