Jeanne O'Connor is a lifelong Student of the Ageless Wisdom and a Friend of Higher Ground
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.” Anon.
If we were able to live without judging others there would be no need for forgiveness. If we did not judge another to have done something wrong there would be no need to forgive. However, non-judgementalism for most of us is a work in progress so let us discuss forgiveness.
You can live with anger and pain or you can live with love, peace and tranquility.
The choice is yours. If you wish to live with love and harmony you must learn to forgive; forgive yourself, forgive others and ask forgiveness for your own transgressions.
The pain and anger you carry is your burden, not someone else’s. It is your baggage and you have to carry it around with you every where you go.
First and foremost you must learn to forgive yourself. None of us is perfect. You are here to learn and grow. You will make mistakes. If you were perfect you wouldn’t still be in earth’s classroom. You would have graduated to bigger and better things. By all means, maintain high standards but understand that you are in fact a student as well as a teacher and you too are still learning. Would you crucify a third grader for not getting a perfect score on their times tables? Why hang yourself for not being perfect?
When you are the one doing the forgiving you create an environment that can generate love, friendship and respect. When you fail to forgive you create and foster bitterness, hate and unhappiness. What do you want to live with?
In your own experience I am sure you have seen people get angry and walk away from each other. Not just walk away to cool off and then discuss the issue rationally. I mean walk away, stop talking. It happens in families and friends. The years of love and loss because of this kind of pain and anger is incalculable. No one wants to take responsibility. Pride won’t allow the first move. Pain, camouflaged as anger won’t allow forgiveness. The “I’m right, he’s wrong, let him come to me attitude” prevents healing. The need to be right can be very expensive. It can cost years of someone’s life. Years of your life. No one wants to accept responsibility for the misunderstanding or making the first move. Every one loses.
Voltaire puts it very poetically. “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
The world is good because you are here. You contribute to the world because you contribute to your family, friends and loved ones. Why mess that up by holding a grudge or remaining angry, being vindictive or looking for revenge? Isn’t there enough of that in this life without you contributing to it?
If you had a breakup with a lover, and you entertain ideas of slashing his tires, you are poisoning your life with anger and resentment, thus robbing yourself of peace and tranquility, who are you hurting? What’s the guy doing? Chances are he isn’t thinking about you. He is out having a good time. He has moved on. Why give him the power to make you miserable?
“He who angers you, conquers you.” Elizabeth Kenny
In a major or minor way we have all hurt or offended other people in our lives. We may not even have known it. If you don’t know it of course there isn’t much you can do about it. However if you have a friend that has stopped talking to you for years, there’s a clue.
“Let her come to me.” What purpose does that serve? Not talking to them at all. Who’s good does that benefit?
You might want to call that friend and ask if you have offended them in any way. If you did they may not even remember why it is that they stopped talking to you and it can create an opening to regenerate the friendship.
Communication is the life or death of any relationship. If you don’t communicate in ways that show love, caring and forgiveness, the relationship will die just as surely as a plant will die if you don’t water it.
Forgiveness is not really about them. It is about you. You may or may not get the forgiveness you ask for, but having admitted your transgression to yourself and to the other party lightens your load. It frees you to let it go.
Think of your peaceful, loving life as a vanilla Carvel . Can you see it? Pure. Luscious. Soft. Enjoyable. Now pour droplets of mud on it. Yuk….Don’t muddy up your life with anger. Let it go with forgiveness.
Other people have to be true to themselves. Sometimes that may hurt you. When that happens try to understand that the action taken was motivated out of a need for that person to be true to himself, not necessarily out of a desire to hurt you.
Watch for the “How to” next issue.
Forgiveness Part II
How good are you at forgiving?
I refer to the phrase “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
The phrase comes from the Lord’s Prayer, a fairly universal mantra.
Have you ever thought about that literally? Forgive us in the same measure we forgive others. Examine your level of forgiveness sometime. Is it complete, unequivocal forgiveness? “Forget it. Let’s move on. You are important to me.”
Is it partial forgiveness, qualified forgiveness, forgiveness with conditions? “I’ll forgive you if you forgive me?” Is it really forgiveness?
Do you really want to receive the kind of forgiveness that you offer?
Are you really willing to settle for that level of forgiveness? If not, get on the forgiveness train and raise your standards.
Are you afraid the other person is going to get away with something? What they did or do is their responsibility. They have to live with it. There is no need to be afraid to forgive.
You don’t have to live with it any more. It is part of your life experience but you don’t have to linger on it. Keep your life in balance. Love yourself enough to forgive another.
Write bad things done to you in the sand but write the good things done to you in marble. Anon.
Garages, closets, file cabinets, bookshelves; they all give a home to toys, sports equipment, dust and old clothes they have long outlived their usefulness. They are just clutter limiting the fresh air you could be breathing and the sunshine you could be walking in. Likewise, harboring old wounds, given or received is useless. It too is excess baggage. Pain and anger, once let go, gives way for sunshine, fresh air, new experience, new awakening and new love.
Who is forgiveness for, it is for you.
I told my wrath. My wrath did end
I told it not. My wrath did grow
Can you think on your feet? Visit with the person or persons involved or make a phone call. If you do better with the written word email or snail mail, but word it carefully.
I write. I formulate and organize my thoughts and then I write. I usually end with the request, “just let me know you have read this through. You don’t have to agree with me. I just want to know you heard me.” We all have the need to at least know that we have been heard.
Make a list of all those who have offended you, from whom you seek apology, and see if you can find a way to work through the pain or anger and just let it go. If you can’t let it go, make contact with that person and work it though.
Most important, make a list of those to whom you owe an apology. Make contact with those involved and make your apology. Whether they accept your apology or not is irrelevant. If they do, that is the best of all possible worlds. In any case you will have done everything you can to make things right. Now you can let go.
You must take action. Lists by themselves are useless. You must do something to make them effective. A shopping list does you no good unless you go shopping for the items on the list. A “To Do” list is useless unless you take action and can start crossing things off.
Having gone through the emotional trauma of an unwanted divorce which created a major unwanted lifestyle change, it was absolutely necessary for me to clean my emotional storage cabinets of old wounds, pain and anger. Having done so after a year of concerted effort I promised myself I would never carry old baggage again. Since that time I created a three day rule for myself. If something hurts, annoys or angers me I will give myself three days to let it go. If it still bothers me I will confront it and clear it. I will not just store it away to collect dust in the corners of my life.
Remember, the worse the offense the greater the need for apology or forgiveness.
Clean your emotional and psychological house and lighten your burden. You may be carrying around a lot of baggage that is expendable. When you load is lighter you can climb higher. The higher you climb the greater the vistas of consciousness and experience.
Make your life count. Make your life exciting rather than being stuck in the mud. Soar like an eagle rather than be grounded in pain or guilt. Be able to truly mean “forgive me, my trespasses in the same measure I forgive those who trespass against me.”
“Forgiveness is the scent a flower gives off when it is being crushed.” Anon.