While research indicates that training in forgiveness can actually bring about improvements in both well-being and health, actually forgiving can be easier said than done. If forgiveness is something you want to practice, try one of these strategies.
Although forgiving someone (or ourselves) can happen in an instant, my experience is that it is usually a much more lengthy process requiring great patience, trust, persistence and prayer -- more like peeling an onion or a lotus blossoming than a lightning bolt.
Even as I've been trying to live justly I was cynically dismissing (judging) Lance Armstrong as a manipulative scoundrel. I even voiced my harsh negative opinion to others but not once had forgiveness even entered into the equation of my conversation.
We must learn to forgive, not just for ourselves, but because we influence the rest of the world,
including our loved ones and families. Forgiveness is deeply healing. It allows us to live free in the present moment.
Sitting there at the kitchen table covered with coffee cups and an ashtray full of cigarette butts, I began to slowly comprehend that working on my problems wasn't the same as healing them. "You didn't forgive him." Those four words changed my life.
Many think self-love is just a form of narcissism, but the purest love knows no conceit. From a spiritual perspective, loving the self communicates humility and gratitude to whatever force gives us life.
Forgiveness doesn't mean you condone the behavior or, in any way, make a wrong right. It just means you give yourself permission to release from your past -- and step forward with the mud of resentment cleared from your wings.
Forgiveness means giving up the suffering of the past and being willing to forge ahead with far greater potential for inner freedom. Besides the reward of letting go of a painful past, there are powerful health benefits that go hand-in-hand with the practice of forgiveness.
When we forgive others, we let go of our anger, resentment and bitterness, and we free ourselves of a great emotional burden that keeps us stuck in the past, in a perpetual state of perceived victimhood long after having been victimized.
Forgiveness is for YOU. It's your liberation from the relentless re-experiencing of a hurt. It releases you from the gnawing feeling of ick you feel inside each time you hear the person's name or see their face.
In this video, I talk about the importance of forgiving difficult relationships. I share a personal anecdote of how forgiveness released me from a past resentment and cleared space for a beautiful new relationship.
Forgiveness is the only key to letting go. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the past because nothing will change what has already happened, the only thing you control is what you do in the future.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting or condoning! Forgiveness is for the person who was perpetrated, not the perpetrator. It is saying, "I have already been offended against, I am going to let go of this so I don't continue to be burdened by it."