If you rely on the dictionary, you probably believe forgiving is something you do to someone else. They do something wrong. You get to forgive them.
If you live with others, at some point no doubt, you’ve said those precious words: “I forgive you.” You’ve let the other off the hook and, maybe, you got to feel better about yourself.
I invite you to take another look at forgiveness.
If you are responsible for what you say, think, feel or do, can anyone actually offend you?
Sure, other people can say things we see as hurtful, but isn’t that an interpretation? If your boss (or lover) calls you an idiot or an incompetent fool, what makes those words offensive? They’re just words – unless you invest value in them.
Do you take offense because you value the other person’s opinion of you more than you value your own opinion of yourself? What other people say is simply their interpretation of the event. Everyone is entitled to their point of view, but that doesn’t make their opinion any more valid than your opinion, especially when it’s about you. Their opinion is feedback. Nothing more.
If someone does something you don’t like, for example cuts you off in traffic, who decides whether you get angry or not? Who makes it a road rage incident?
If you lose your job or your lover leaves you for someone else, who decides you have been betrayed?
It all comes back to you. So, if you’re angry at the world or feeling hard done by or insulted, take a look at the person in the mirror. There’s the person, the only person, you need to forgive.
Make a list of all the judgements you have made about people, events and yourself. This could take some time – if you’re really honest with yourself.
All of those judgements are nothing more than your opinions based on how you decided to see things at the time.
Remember, the way we see the world is based on our perceptions or beliefs. We all interpret things through our own personal filters. If the event does not meet our private, often hidden agenda, we judge it negatively. If it meets our agenda, we judge it positively.
We even have the nerve to assume we know what other people are thinking about us, and if we don’t like what we assume we judge them accordingly. This is how what one person thinks is a harmless remark made in jest can start a family feud, or a quarrel between lovers.
The secret to forgiveness is to forgive yourself for all your misinterpretations and judgements, so that you can release the other people in your life from your distorted pictures of them.
When you stop thinking about someone as a ‘bitch’ or a ‘selfish bastard’, you give yourself the opportunity to discover who’s really there in front of you.
Works for people who have left the planet as well, so don’t forget them in your forgiveness work.
Word of warning. Forgiveness can be challenging. You have to be honest with yourself and courageous enough to own your judgments. You don’t have to chase people up to apologise. It’s about self-correcting or re-booting your system. All re-boots are a fresh start.
When your’e ready, go to your list of judgements and start with, “I am willing to forgive myself for the judgment I made about (person/event/myself) and to release (person/event/myself) from my misperception.”
When you can get through the “I am willing to forgive…” without resistance, move on to “I forgive ….”
Don’t try and do it all in one afternoon. You’ve been accumulating all those ‘hurts’ and making all those judgements over a lifetime. Be gentle with yourself.
Now that you know what needs to be forgiven, you might want to pause each time you feel a judgement coming on.
If you need some help to get started, or simply want another perspective, take a look at www.wikihow.com/Forgive-Yourself