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Have you ever noticed how you can think of a painful event from years past and still feel the same hurt and resentment as if it happened yesterday? Some people will hold onto the anger for years, and some allow it to be the lens through which they view the world – fear, skepticism, distrust.
Forgiveness provides an opportunity to heal that. Yep, I know! Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. It’s quite the buzzword, but there’s a reason for that—it works!
By definition, forgiveness is the deliberate decision to let go of anger and resentment towards someone that’s hurt you. But really, it’s so much less about others and more about what you’re giving to yourself. When we forgive, we tell ourselves that we’re worthy of feeling peaceful. We make a conscious choice to take our power back, allowing ourselves to move forward and remove the shackles of past events that keep us stuck in our old ways of thinking, feeling, and believing.
Give to yourself today with these seven paths to the emotional freedom of forgiveness.
1. Start with you
Try being nonjudgmental and forgiving of yourself. Releasing expectations and embracing self-acceptance allows you to be the best version of you. In turn, it allows you to see the best in others.
2. Find your people
We all have people in our lives we can vent to, the ones who will validate our anger, blame, and resentment. And let’s be honest, sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting with a girlfriend who adds in “hell yeah” and “screw them” when we’re complaining about the last person who crossed us. They mean well. They’re trying to support us.
However, all of that is nothing but a temporary bandage to mask the underlying pain we’re feeling. When it comes to forgiveness, surround yourself with people who spend their time and energy on peacefulness and personal growth — people who understand the exponential benefits of letting go. When it comes to forgiveness, find your flock of fellow forgivers.
3. Remember that everything happens for a reason.
There is meaning and purpose in every experience, even those that come with pain or confusion. Try and see the event from a growth perspective. What has this experience shown you about yourself that you can now shift to something positive?
4. Take responsibility
Everything we experience is simply a mirror reflection of our own internal beliefs about ourselves. Consider that when you feel hurt by someone else. What is it you tell yourself about YOU that precipitated or intensified the hurt that you feel? A person I respect reminds me often that we cannot offend others. Others can only choose to take offense.
“You do not see the world as it is. You see it as you are.” – Anais Nin.
5. Rewrite your story from victim mentality to hero mentality
By telling ourselves we’re a victim, we’re handing our power over to others on a silver platter. When we’re powerless, we’re vulnerable. Remember that words and thoughts are energy. If we walk around feeling as if we’re vulnerable to other people’s attacks or criticisms, we will be.
So, regain your power. Consider your words about yourself. Consider your thoughts about yourself. Remind yourself of how strong and wise and resilient you are.
6. Practice gratitude
Ah, gratitude. Alongside forgiveness, it’s probably one of the most powerful choices we can make. When we’re truly grateful for our experiences, we open ourselves up to the understanding that every experience, even those we perceive as painful, have a purpose. By focusing on the attitude of gratitude, we clear a path for embracing inner peace, which involves forgiveness.
Everything listed above culminates in this beautiful Hawaiian prayer. In the Hawaiian culture, it is believed that withholding forgiveness leads to disease and disharmony. I tend to agree. This prayer, simply translated as “to make right again,” involves a simple mantra you repeat over and over, releasing the energy of past traumas and pain.
Like anything, forgiveness requires choice. It requires practice. Let’s turn forgiveness into a habit.
“Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.” —Nelson Mandela