I remember an old website my friend turned me on to a few years back called Daily Om. I received their daily words of enlightened thought for months, and then decided to unsubscribe...not because it wasn't good content - but because I was in email overload, as most of us can relate to. Anyhow - just randomly thought of it today and decided to check out the day's inspiration. Most appropriately, it was on the topic of forgiveness...a topic that has been front and center in my life over the past year. Definite food for thought...
April 14, 2010
An Empowered Perspective: Importance of Forgiveness
In order to forgive, we need to try and stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused.
When someone has hurt us, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most difficult things we have to face in resolving the situation is the act of forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier not to forgive and that the answer is to simply cut the person in question out of our lives. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the right thing to do, but even in that case, we will only be free if we have truly forgiven. If we harbor bitterness in our hearts against anyone, we only hurt ourselves because we are the ones harboring the bitterness. Choosing to forgive is choosing to alleviate ourselves of that burden, choosing to be free of the past, and choosing not to perceive ourselves as victims.
One of the reasons that forgiveness can be so challenging is that we feel we are condoning the actions of the person who caused our suffering, but this is a misunderstanding of what is required. In order to forgive, we simply need to get to a place where we are ready to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, and our forgiveness of others is an extension of our readiness to let go of our own pain. Getting to this point begins with fully accepting what has happened. Through this acceptance, we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.
It can be helpful to articulate our feelings in writing over a period of days or even weeks. As we allow ourselves to say what we need to say and ask for what we need to heal, we will find that this changes each day. It may be confusing, but it is a sign of progress. At times we may feel as if we are slogging uphill through dense mud and thick trees, getting nowhere. If we keep going, however, we will reach a summit and see clearly that we are finally free of the past. From here, we recognize that suffering comes from suffering, and compassion for those who have hurt us naturally arises, enhancing our new perspective.
Three people immediately came to mind. It's been very difficult for me in life to know when to cut someone out of my life, vs. continue to try to make things better. I realize that most of the time the decision is made for me - some external force just forces us apart, or we just...drift... In the few instances where I make a clean break, it is usually extenuating circumstances. Today I realize how much pain and suffering I have caused myself by holding onto self-created anger and resentment. I am not an angry person, and I want to let it go.
I want to forgive. I am open to forgiving. I forgive. I love.