The Art Of Forgiveness: 5 Things You Need To Know
verb for·give \fər-ˈgiv, fȯr-\
: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
What You Need to Know
According to Buddhism, big difficulties are indicative of having an old soul; that is, the greater your misfortunes, the closer you are to enlightenment.
While you may or not believe this, reframing life events as tests of character certainly has its benefits.
We all know that resentment is like taking poison and hoping someone else will die; but how do you let go of resentments when someone has hurt you?
- Gratitude. This can mean counting your blessings. It can also mean counting your wounds amongst your blessings. Eckhart Tolle says it is not life’s events that stand in our way, but the mind’s misinterpretation of these events. Instead of harboring grievances towards someone for their wrongdoing, ask yourself what has come of it for you. Where have these indiscretions led you? What have you done because of them, and what have you learned? How have you grown? Oftentimes, our deepest suffering offers the greatest opportunity for growth and awakening. Without suffering and the person or thing that caused it, that awakening doesn’t necessarily happen. You know something has shifted when you are grateful for the wounds you’ve incurred, for they are precisely the thing that has brought you to where you are right now.
- The lesson. If you’ve been wounded, allow yourself to feel hurt. Acknowledge that you are a student, not a victim. Then ask yourself what you’re being called upon to learn. Is it patience? Resilience? Compassion? Develop a mindfulness around these qualities, and set an intention to cultivate them in response to your hardship. Then do it.
- Perspective is everything. This person, or this event, is one of many in your life. While it can be part of what defines you, so will many other people and events. You get to decide how much or how little these things contribute to the person you are busy becoming. It’s up to you how much this matters. Remember, though, that bad things that happen don’t have to leave us with bad consequences. It might be wise to allow a hurtful experience to change you— for the better.
- Develop an understanding. Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying, “”Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” While we might never know the reasons for specific events or why someone has hurt us, we can accept that everything and everyone moves from one of two basic emotions: love or fear. If someone has caused you harm, it can be helpful to understand that they are coming from a place of fear. You, on the other hand, can act from a far more peaceful place of love. Compassion is key to accepting the bad things that other people do. It is more than likely that these people are in some kind of pain. It might be helpful to remember a time when you were forgiven, or a time when you acted out of fear instead of love.
- Forgive yourself. Society asks us to simply “get over it.” But without respecting our own wounds and taking the time to heal them in the way that suits us as individuals, odds are we never will. Forgive yourself for being hurt by this person or thing, and perhaps own your part in it. Know that you are wiser now, and make a conscious choice to set boundaries and take care of yourself.
It’s a Matter of Energy
Forgiveness does not mean that what this person has done is okay, that you will forget (the proverbial “forgive and forget” is an anomaly; except in highly unlikely cases of amnesia, only the forgive part is possible or necessary), or that you will be inviting this person to dinner anytime soon.
If you feel unable to forgive, make a pact with yourself to refuse to act on your anger, and in time forgiveness will follow.
Ultimately, it comes down to energetics.
It takes less energy to forgive than it does to stay angry and resentful.
You will eventually stop feeling the pain, so it makes sense to let go of something you are going to lose anyway.
No one thinks at the end of their life, “I wish I’d stayed angry longer.”
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