A few articles ago, we talked about the importance of forgiving and letting go. In this article, we shall discuss a few ways in which we can forgive. I can picture most people saying, “mmhh, how can I forgive that person who caused me so much misery”? The question really should be “Can I afford not to forgive?’ What is the “hurt” doing to my inner self? If we expect to be forgiven, then forgiving others would not be too daunting. One of my favorite saying goes like this “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace”
So how can we forgive? We must understand what forgiveness is and why it matters. It matters because it gives us a sense of inner peace, safety, and strength. It matters because it heals us. It matters because if we carry hurt within us, it can cause disease in the physical body. We do this by practicing with smaller acts of forgiveness like when someone cuts us off in traffic or at the supermarket.
Forgiveness takes practice and the more we do it the easier it gets. We forgive easily when we recognize that every person is unique, special, and as valuable as we are. Another good practice is to catch ourselves when dealing with difficult situations. If we come from a place of love, we are unlikely to be ruffled by mundane day to day life events. It is also important to figure out who has caused you hurt and pain. This may seem obvious but according to the teachings of A Course in Miracles, “I am never upset for the reason I think” (ACIM lesson 5).
Sometimes we are angry and not sure where the anger is coming from. We can look carefully at the people in our lives, our parents, siblings, spouse, peers, children, co-workers etc. and acknowledge the hurt feelings. Doing this will give us an idea of who needs forgiveness. This is a great place to start. Forgiveness is not just for other people. We must also learn to forgive ourselves. Life happens and sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are less than perfect. We must forgive ourselves and these situations. If letting go becomes difficult, it is necessary to seek the help of a professional.
If you are struggling with forgiveness it does not mean you are unforgiving. It just means that the process takes time. Be gentle and patient with yourself. It will come. A good approach is to surround yourself with positive minded people who will support you. I have personally struggled with forgiving my parents for what I considered was less than a perfect upbringing. I used to be angry especially at my dad who, to me was more of a monster than a father. After reading motivational books and practicing empathy, it became easier and I was able to forgive him for what “I thought” he had done. I realized much later that he did the best with the resources and knowledge that he had at the time. I had wasted much time being angry but I came to also forgive myself for judging him and “accusing” him of being a terrible father. Something else that helped me greatly was the support of higher guidance. I realized that I was more than just a body. I was one with the Holy Spirit and that I could call upon Him at any time. Help is always available and we are never alone.