Forgiveness may seem like it’s hard to do. Human beings have a tendency to remain in a state of un-forgiveness for many reasons. You could hold onto grievance stories because you think that you are punishing the other person by doing so. (News flash: You are only hurting yourself by holding onto your anger.) Or, you might think that clutching your anger to your chest like a precious package will protect you from further, similar hurts. (Sadly, that only makes you miserable.) Or perhaps you have built an identity around the wound that you suffered and to let go of that memory might make your self-concept crumble. (In this case, you need an updated self-concept to be joyful and happy.) Whenever you choose to hold onto past grievances, you hold yourself back from the freedom, joy and happiness that accompanies true forgiveness.
I often suggest to my students and clients that they choose a small- to medium-sized grievance to practice the forgiveness process. That way, you get positive reinforcement for the process, build up your forgiveness muscle and stamina until you are ready to work through a big grievance story. Most importantly, you get a taste of the sweetness that forgiveness provides.
Human beings are strongly motivated by the wish to avoid pain and only secondarily by the wish to seek pleasure. I see this principle at work in my life. My first inspiration to research and attempt forgiveness was to free myself from a black hole of anger, regrets and bitterness I fell into because of a very hurtful event in my life. I carried that burden inside me for months, wallowing in regrets, bitterness and deep anger until I thought it was going to crush me. “There’s got to be a better way to live,” I told myself. And that’s when I developed my own, seven-step process to forgive.
I am no saint! I still get angry, hold grudges, judge people, speak with words I regret later, etc. However, I find that through my personal work with forgiveness that I am now attracted to the pleasure I get from forgiving. That sweet freedom beckons me from behind the dark curtain of resentment that I feel occasionally, reminding me that forgiveness really feels GOOD. I now no longer avoid pain so much as I look forward to the joy, peace and compassion that I feel when I forgive.
Forgiveness can happen spontaneously for some, but for most of us, it is a choice. Consider forgiveness to release yourself from the pain of anger, resentment, bitterness and hatred so you can feel the joy of peace, joy and compassion!
I am so excited about the first annual Telesummit on Forgiveness and Emotional Release that starts tomorrow! If you haven’t already registered to participate in this seven-day, complimentary event, please visit www.aforgivenessjournal.com/telesummit2009 to read more about the amazing guests I assembled to teach and inspire you to seek more forgiveness in your life! You will be blessed by this event.