Many of us carry grudges for years and years. We feel self-righteous because of what someone else did to us. I call this being stuck in the prison of self-righteous resentment. We get to be right. We never get to be happy.
I can hear you saying, “But you don’t know what they did to me; it’s unforgivable.” Being unwilling to forgive is a terrible thing to do to ourselves. Bitterness is like swallowing a teaspoon of poison every day. It accumulates and harms us. It’s impossible to be healthy and free when we keep ourselves bound to the past. The incident is long gone and over with. Yes, it’s true that they didn’t behave well. However, it’s over. Sometimes we feel that if we forgive them, then we’re saying that what they did to us was okay.
One of our biggest spiritual lessons is to understand that everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment. People can only do so much with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that they have. Invariably, anyone who mistreats someone was mistreated themselves as a child. The greater the level of violence, the greater their own inner pain, and the more they may lash out. This is not to say that their behavior is acceptable or excusable. However, for our own spiritual growth, we must be aware of their pain.
The incident is over. Perhaps long over. Let it go. Allow yourself to be free. Come out of prison and step into the sunshine of life. If the incident is still going on, then ask yourself why you think so little of yourself that you still put up with it. Why do you stay in such a situation?
Raise your self-esteem to such a level that you only allow loving experiences in your life. Don’t waste time trying to “get even.” It doesn’t work. What we give out always comes back to us. So let’s drop the past and work on loving ourselves in the now. Then we will have a wonderful future.
The person who is hardest to forgive is the one who can teach you the greatest lessons. When you love yourself enough to rise above the old situation, then understanding and forgiveness will be easy. And you’ll be free.
I’d like to suggest that you do some mirror work on forgiveness. Look into your eyes in the mirror and say with feeling, I am willing to forgive! Repeat this several times. What are you feeling? Do you feel stubborn and stuck, or do you feel open and willing?
Just notice your feelings. Don’t judge them. Breathe deeply a few times, and repeat the process. Does it feel any different?
An interesting phenomenon is that when we do our own forgiveness work, other people often respond to it. It’s not necessary to go to the person involved and tell them that you forgive them. Sometimes you’ll want to do this, but you don’t have to. The major work in forgiveness is done in your own heart.
Forgiveness is seldom for “them.” It’s for us.
I’ve heard from many people who have truly forgiven someone, and then a month or two later, they may receive a phone call or a letter from the other person, asking to be forgiven. This seems to be particularly true when forgiveness exercises are done in front of the mirror, so as you do this exercise notice how deep your feelings might be.
I refuse to limit myself. I am always willing to take the next step.
They were doing the best they could with the knowledge, understanding, and awareness that they had at the time.
I am grown up now, and I take loving care of my inner child.
There is no right or wrong. I move beyond my judgment.
I give myself permission to let go.