The key to forgiveness is to forgive from the heart not from the mind.
Knowing in your rational mind that your parents did the best they could to raise you is not enough to constitute forgiveness.
If you have any type of negative emotional reaction in the presence of someone, you have not truly forgiven that person. What would happen if you took 5 minutes to walk in the other person's shoes? Could you find compassion for them to understand why things happened the way they did?
Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to agree with what they did or how they did it. Not at all. Your values and beliefs may be very different from theirs. It simply means that you can see the whole truth of what happened and that the Truth encompasses all points of view, not just your own. True compassion of the human experience is that place from which all forgiveness begins. Compassion is an act of unconditional love that is free of any attachment.
Forgiveness is about seeing life with clarity so that you stop judging the activities of others and, instead, take responsibility for your interpretation of those activities. When you judge something that happens in life as good or bad, right or wrong you aren't able to have gratitude for the challenges and experiences life sends your way. No matter how enlightened a person you may be, challenging situations will always happen. However, if you have gratitude for life's challenges you will always find your joy in life and never feel victimized by your circumstances.
Once you have seen the truth you simply make the decision to let go of the pain, anger, and resentment you have been holding on to. If you are addicted to your pain, resentment, self-righteousness, this might be a challenging step for you. There is comfort in what we find familiar, even if we are suffering. However, once you let go, the weight of the world will be released from your shoulders.
In the forgiveness process, it is important to forgive not only the other people in our lives, but also ourselves. For most people, forgiving ourselves is more difficult then forgiving others. Here are a few things to check in with yourself to see if you could use some forgiveness on.
- Forgive yourself for using people in your life to hurt yourself.
- Forgive yourself for not having clarity, for blaming others, and for not taking responsibility for your actions.
- Forgive yourself for wounding others and for the anger, jealousy, and hate you've directed toward others.
- Forgive yourself for participating in situations that went against your integrity.
- Forgive yourself for not respecting yourself.
- Forgive yourself for not trusting yourself and having faith in your abilities.
- Forgive yourself for trying to control the people you love.
- And, of course, forgive yourself for not loving yourself 100% just the way you are!
If you forgive you will be truly happy, and your life will reflect the change back to you in every way. After all, what we think in our minds is what manifests in our lives! The bottom line is that we forgive not because the other person necessarily deserves it, but because we do not want to carry that load around until we die. Anger, hate, and jealousy will make you old, resentful and ugly, inside and out. The question is, how much do you love and respect yourself? Is it enough to give yourself the gift of forgiveness? I hope so. With All my love & blessings!
Sheri Rosenthal DPM is a master Toltec teacher and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Toltec Wisdom. Having trained with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, she currently takes students on spiritual journeys, works with personal apprentices and enjoys being extremely happy. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.sherirosenthal.com & www.journeysofthespirit.com
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