It is easy to let past events and negative interactions fester in our minds. Humans seem to be made for holding a grudge. But forgiveness brings an amazing type of freedom. Forgiving people is one way to being able to get focused on yourself and achieving more of your potential.
Yesterday I wrote about my efforts to give all humans I have ever met a Fresh Start. The blog post got a lot of attention and several people reached out to tell me about their feelings of anger toward someone and how they cannot forgive. Others told me about how when they practice true forgiveness it has allowed them to feel better.
I did not really write the first post to be about “Forgiveness”, but the reactions made me see that was really where I was going. Understanding what forgiveness is all about it probably over my pay grade, but the benefits of forgiveness are clear.
Choose To Forgive
When one chooses to forgive it allows them see that the other person has their own stuff going on in their life. The infraction that has caused pain may never have really been about you. It could have been about their own mixed up feelings. How your react and how long your hold onto the hurt is your choice.
I decided to start my own “forgiveness project” and I began taking inventory negative situations where I am judging others for their words or actions. Turns out there were several things on the list. None of these people have come to me to seek forgiveness, but the bonus here is that you need not even let them know. In some cases the problem was long ago or they might get defensive. In another case the person does not know that I know about the what happened (but a true reminder that people always find out).
Forgiveness is a process, and I am not claiming I got rid of all negative feelings about every person I have ever had an altercation with in the matter of a day. But it is important that forgiveness is real. I am making a commitment to let go of things.
Mental health is complicated. I know many people who struggle with feelings and do not share them with even those closest to them. My own dark feelings are things I have pushed aside, but they still have me tied up in knots sometimes. These are usually related to something about others. I make assumptions about how they think or feel, and if that assumption is negative about me, then it gets me down.
But I am often wrong in assuming the feelings of other people. We simply do not know what demons they have faced and the “why” they took actions or said mean things. I am choosing to forgive all humans I have ever encountered. And let go of my feelings (cuz they are just my feelings). Knowing all is simply impossible and when we fill in the blanks and write the story in our mind, it all gets harder.
Of course, it is better when you can talk with people about the situations that may have caused a riff in the past. Letting them know you are letting go of any negative feelings could rekindle the friendship or other relationship. But for now I am just working on my person ways to let go and forgive from my heart.
I Feel Better With Forgiveness
One situation that has been heavy on me, the other person would be shocked to know I have carried this around for so many years. But I am human. Yet once I decided it is a “non issue” my whole soul began to change. I feel better by choosing to forgive.
The work to forgive everyone at once may be too big of a task. But that is where I am starting. You should maybe start small. Pick some person that you are mad at for words or actions in the past. Now decide to forgive. Really forgive. Deep level forgiveness. It may take time to believe that you are serious and that you are capable. I know for me there are some people that seem harder than others to forgive. Going back to my younger days, we apparently are all too fast to anger and too slow to forgive.
My father always said “be slow to anger and fast to forgive”. For the most part I have lived my life by this. However in some cases I have not really forgiven, but instead just hid my feelings. Hiding your feelings is not always the best way to go through life.
Hiding something like this tends to eat away at your soul slowly. You do not even notice it at first, but over time it numbs you. Feelings are important and they are what makes us human.
“To err is human. To forgive is divine” – Alexander Pope
We all make mistakes. Acting as if we are perfect seems to be the daily pastime of many people in 2019. But the reality is we are all struggling and each human you know consistently is seeking their own path. When I look at the mistakes of other people that have created me to be pissed off, hurt, or angry, I realize they are simply doing the best they can.
Everyone has their own stuff going on in their world. Sometimes it is good stuff, but often they are dealing with dark issues and their need for self preservation of their own “self” causes them to take actions that create hurt to someone else. They do not usually even mean in, but instead are not thinking that far ahead.
2019 began with my choosing “minimalist” as my word for the year. I have tried hard to simplify my life wherever possible. New things are not that necessary, and each week I try to throw away 20 things from my closet. But the new word is “Forgiveness”. As when I can really let go of negative feelings and accept other humans with their weaknesses, then I can live with less stress and angst.
Who will you forgive? Adopt even a little dollop of forgiveness and you will be free from the yoke of holding grudges and pointing blame.
A link to Mindful.org about 11 Ways to Forgive was sent to me by someone who read this blog post. I am not familiar with Mindful.org, but the 11 tips are really helpful.