We all know forgiveness is important, but it’s so hard to do! As a result, we don’t actively work on forgiving and letting go. We don’t realize the terrible toll it’s taking on us and how it’s hampering our efforts of crafting a soul-prospering life.
Here’s a sampling of what you can look forward to if you have trouble forgiving, whether it’s forgiving others or yourself:
Impatience and frustration
Fits of anger
Difficulty getting along with others
Blame, guilt, shame
Sadness or being in a ‘blue funk’
Living a life of ‘less than’
Fixated on the past
Fatigue and lethargy
A sampling of the benefits of forgiving yourself and others:
Peace of mind, body, and spirit
Feelings of connectedness
Willingness to give the benefit of the doubt
No longer a prisoner of guilt, shame, and blame
Resiliency and perseverance
Scary, huh? We’ll talk more about this tomorrow, including how you can move forward on this.
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After last week’s posts about trust and the work we did in discovering how much–or how little–we trust the Universe, our Vision, and ourselves, we may have discovered that our trust levels are lower than what we thought. This can lead to disappointment and discouragement.
The antidote is forgiveness, particularly self-forgiveness. This will be our topic for the week. Below are 16 wise quotes that can get us started on our journey this week.
The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself. ~Confucius
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil. And, with them, forgive yourself. ~William Shakespeare
You cannot travel back in time to fix your mistakes, but you can learn from them and forgive yourself for not knowing better. ~Leon Brown
To forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that ‘summum bonum’, the greatest good. ~~Bishop Desmond Tutu
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. ~Lewis B. Smedes
When you forgive, you in no way change the past–but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer
Forgiveness is rediscovering the shining path of peace that at first you thought others took away when they betrayed you. ~Dodinski
Although you should not erase your responsibility for the past, when you make the past your jailer, you destroy your future. It is such a great moment of liberation when you learn to forgive yourself, let the burden go, and walk out into a new path of promise and possibility. ~John O’Donahue
Forgive yourself for what you think you’ve done or not done. At every moment, you had your reasons for all of your actions and decisions. You’ve always done the best that you could do. Forgive yourself. ~Doreen Virtue
I, who have never willfully pained another, have no right to pain myself. ~Marcus Aurelius
I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. The believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be. ~Dr. Kristin Neff
We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends. ~Sir Francis Bacon
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Most of us can forgive and forget; we just don’t want the other person to forge that we forgave them! ~Ivern Ball
When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free. ~Catherine Ponder
He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. ~Dr. Martin Luther King
Which quotes rang true for you? Jot them down and keep them handy this week. Refer to them often to remind yourself that you’re doing your best. This will keep you on track with forgiving yourself.
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Do you trust yourself, really trust yourself–especially when it comes to crafting a soul-prospering life, which is also living the life of your dreams?
Stay in a contemplative mood today thinking about the question I just asked. Certainly carry on with your responsibilities and obligations throughout the day, but keep this question simmering on the back burner of your mind.
Be observant of yourself today: what do you habitually think and say about yourself, are they the same things that a person with a high level of self-trust would say and think; when you are working on tasks, do you start them knowing you have what it takes to get the job done; as you work your way through the small and large projects of the day, do you do them with the attitude of “Yes I Can!”?
At the end of the day, take time to review what you’ve observed about yourself. Ask yourself “Do I trust myself, especially when it comes to crafting my soul-prospering life?” Be honest! You aren’t helping yourself by not being totally honest! And answer the question with Yes or No.
If you’ve answered No to the question, don’t worry. Tomorrow we’ll talk about steps you can take to bolster your self-trust.
It can be done and you can do it!
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Not one of us is exempt from difficulties. Instead of huge knotty problems to be grappled with, sometimes they are small things, especially those things left undone, that create a day that we label as a bad one.
This poem points out the little things that we occasionally don’t do, even though we know we should. It gives voice to the regret we feel when we realize what we’ve done–or more precisely, what we haven’t done.
One thing the poet left out is that we can begin again. Each day is a clean slate and we can resolve to do those things we’ve regretted not doing in the past. As a matter of fact, each moment is fresh and new and we can choose to make a different decision.
I like the line “…And all our poor selfish griefs could be dropped, like a shabby old coat, at the door, and never be put on again.” It’s a great image that’s visceral–we’ve all worn a shabby coat, perhaps while doing yard work in chilly weather–and is a wonderful example of how to handle our regrets: just let them go because nothing we do in the present moment or in the future will change what happened. By treating each moment as an opportunity to be our better self, we can change our present moment, which will have a positive effect on our future.
Enjoy the poem!
The Land of Beginning Again
I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor, selfish griefs
Could be dropped, like a shabby old coat, at the door,
And never put on again.
I wish we could come on it all unaware,
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail;
And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done
The greatest injustice of all
Could be at the gate like the old friend that waits
For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.
We would find the things we intended to do,
But forgot and remembered too late—
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken,
And all of the thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected
The days of one less fortunate.
It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind.
In the Land of Beginning Again;
And the ones we misjudged and the ones whom we grudged
Their moments of victory here,
Would find the grasp of our loving handclasp
More than penitent lips could explain.
For what had been hardest we’d know had been best,
And what had seemed loss would be gain,
For there isn’t a sting that will not take wing
When we’ve faced it and laughed it away;
And I think that the laughter is most what we’re after,
In the Land of Beginning Again.
So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor, selfish griefs
Could be dropped, like a ragged old coat, at the door,
And never put on again.
~Louisa Fletcher Tarkington.
What did you think of this poem? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!
In the US, today is Patriot’s Day where we remember not only the victims of the9/11 tragedy, but also the innocent people across the globe who have suffered, and are suffering, because of others who espouse misguided ideologies.
My thought is if everyone would focus on tuning into the whisperings of their heart, the urgings of their soul, and follow the Still Small Voice within, then we’d all be living soul-prospering lives.
In asking yourself yesterday’s questions and answering them you may have bumped up against psychic or emotional wounds that are still sore. You may have discovered that you’ve stopped in one area of your life because of an unfairness or injustice. Perhaps you tried working with forgiveness to move past it but it just isn’t working.
You may have gotten stuck at the last question: “What are you going to do about it?” You just don’t have a clue what to do to help yourself.
My recommendation is to not worry about forgiveness or apologies or anyone admitting guilt or taking the blame. Relying on others so that you can move forward may not always be the best tactic. Instead, ask yourself “Why?” to discover what’s at the core of the wound–is it disrespect, is it that you feel invisible? Does it make you feel that you’re not good enough?
When you keep asking yourself ‘why’, you become clearer on what the issue really is. This then helps you figure out what YOU can do about it. You don’t have to turn to anyone else to heal that wound or fill that hole. You aren’t dependent upon someone “owning up” and then apologizing.
Asking yourself “why” and then “what am I going to do about it’ puts the control squarely in your hands, which is exactly where it needs to be–especially if you want to move forward into your soul-prospering life.
We’ve all been hurt and angered by others. Usually we can shrug it off, but there are certain people or particular experiences that continue to impact us, even though the people may no longer be in our lives or that the experiences happened years–decades–ago.
Many times from numerous sources I’ve heard that forgiveness is NOT AT ALL about the other person but rather it’s all about me, my life, and staying on track with who I am and what my purpose in life is. But when the rubber meets the road, it’s really hard to put this into practice.
After years of working on this, here’s how I think about forgiveness, which makes it easier for me to put it into practice:
To me, the essential thing to keep in mind is to constantly be asking myself (being mindful of the question) “What kind of person do I want to be?”
Whether it was intentional or not on my part, do I want to be the person who doesn’t apologize, who doesn’t really care, that someone may have been hurt by what I said or did–or what I didn’t say or do? Do I want the other person to be sad or feel bad about themselves or be in emotional or mental or spiritual or physical pain because of me?
The answer is, no I don’t want to be that person.
So, whether or not I think they’re justified or being reasonable, if it is going to help them to hear me say that I’m sorry, then I want to do that.
It’s deeper than how my little piece may have impacted them. It’s probably that my piece is a small, small part of the huge iceberg they’re dealing with. I don’t know–and none of us can ever really know or understand–the internal struggles people are grappling with from day-to-day and even moment-to-moment. Just because I can’t see it when I look at them and their life, it doesn’t mean they have no struggles or battles. They–like all of us–are probably in the thick of an all-out war within–a war that they may feel they’re losing.
And this thinking goes hand-in-hand with forgiveness. Again, it isn’t about them, per say, but rather about what I need to have/be/do to be the kind of person I admire and want to become.
Do I want to be the person who holds onto memories, grudges, hurts, pains, disappointments from what people have/haven’t done to me in the past? Do I want to become embittered, sour, vengeful, grumpy, angry, and old before my time? Do I want to have a life that’s less than the one I’ve dreamed of?
The answer is, no I don’t want to be that person or to have my life so deeply affected.
So, whether the other person(s) deserve it or not, I am going to let it go. At some point in their life they may have a “Eureka!” moment and I want to have created enough elbow room through my letting go that they can fully embrace and step into their moment of profound change.
I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and presume that they are a good person and, if they weren’t so overwhelmed with their own cares and burdens, they would never ever ever have done or said those things that negatively impacted me.
I’m going to jettison the “stuff” that does not serve me–that does not make me feel excited and enthusiastic, feel capable and competent; that does not help me open my heart and soul to the fullness of Life.
Is this easy to do? No, of course not.
More frequently than I care to admit, I find my mind wandering back to the past and I have to take it in hand and refocus on the present, as well as the future I’m headed toward. I, too, have to remind myself of the person I want to be, and remind myself that it means letting go. And sometimes I have to pry my fingers off of the thing I’m grasping so tightly!
I can report that, like with anything, with practice it gets easier. I find the lag time is getting shorter between getting my feelings bruised, letting go, and then feeling better.
Practices that move us closer to living a soul-prospering life are a good thing!