The following self help article about the importance of forgiveness was written by Ton Pascal. Ton is the author of Dream Your Life Positively. When it comes to why I, personally, find it so important to forgive others, it comes down to a five-letter word… a vital word… peace. You cannot have peace if you’re carrying around resentment, bitterness, and internal strife.
Read on and see why it’s so important to let go and forgive!
I was overwhelmed with emails after I published my personal experiences with forgiveness. I was surprised to see how many people felt like I did, and “could wear my shoes,” so to speak. But very few felt the inner motivation to finally make the ‘jump’ and bridge the gap.
Each individual has his/her own opinion about forgiveness and how to go about it.
“People forgive best if they go at it in bits and pieces, and for specific acts,” said Lewis B. Smedes. In retrospect, I am glad and grateful of my experiences, which allowed me to help others find inner peace.
Not because of its spiritual connotation but the issue of forgiveness in our lives is more important on a psychological, emotional and healthy level than money or sex.
If someone cuts you off on the road, or steals your parking space, it is a less personal offense and you can easily disregard the action, which most people don’t, and in a few minutes it is forgotten. But if someone has hurt your feelings, the pain, distress and anger will stay with you for days, months, and even years. Both situations are a major source of stress, which will affect your mental and bodily biological functions. Forgiveness is not just a balm for the soul but it also improves your well being. So forgiveness is a simple way of dealing with the problem, and also the most dramatically effective way to find your equilibrium. Forgiveness is nothing more than a personal choice. There is no can or can’t do. You do forgive or you don’t, you have the choice.
Try to have empathy for the transgressor. It is like “walking a mile in the other’s shoes.” Feel their stress, emotions and what they must be feeling at the moment of that encounter with you. It will allow you to feel compassion, which will help you make a different and effective choice.
Remember that forgiveness is not a weakness but a mark of strength of character.
Making a life touching choice is already difficult and if we add to it the actual planetary economic situation which is bringing individual stress to a new level, we must adjust our inner self and spirituality carefully. For some people, the difference between having a job and being unemployed is the same as life and death. The fear of lay off, job insecurity, mortgage or debt payments, the grudge against the old boss who is now even more demanding than before and you are ready to explode at the smallest aggravation. The last thing you need now is an ‘assault’ on your feelings.
The Chicago office of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill – NAMI – reports that there are 32.000 suicides and 800.000 suicide attempts in the United States alone each year. “As our economic crisis deepens we’re learning of a spike in calls to suicide hotlines. Some callers are considering suicide because they have been laid off or fear they will soon be out of work.” Says the NAMI.
So how do you cope with it, forgiveness and all?
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about the reality of others. But you can do something about changing yourself and with that you’ll change the world. And it is easier than you think. The reasons I wrote Dream Your Life Positively are exactly that. How to simply change the way of thinking and acting into a positive energy. Later if you want you can graduate and start reading all the ‘heavier’ literature on how to become famous and wealthy.
Maybe the pain is fresh, like the friend who owes you money but instead of paying you just bought a new condo. Or it is an old wound, a parent who abused you, or a companion who cheated on you.
You are angry and the hurt is like a fire. Your mind is urging you to make a decision, either you put out the fire or heat it up. Get over it or get even.
While your mind is polluted with feelings of resentment and anger you see only negative in every situation in your life. This energy you are sending out will attract exactly the same negative energy all around you. Let’s change this negative energy into a positive one.
Below I have some advice and a simple exercise if you are going through a stressful period, or have a difficult choice to make. Do it as often as you want until you feel the loosening of the constricting grip on your emotions and the natural release of positive energy which will change you and your life.
- Keep the same routine as you had before, even if you are not working. Stressed people have a tendency to change their daily routine often. Use your free time to do some voluntary work in a shelter or hospital for example. It is very motivating.
- Do talk to your friends and family about your situation, feelings and wishes. They can be a positive support when you are being negative.
- If you have money problems, don’t get entangled in the right or wrong way of doing things as they sap your energy. Get professional financial advice at once.
This healing exercise below is designed to allow you access to the positive energy inherent in you. You will gain the benefit of compassion and forgiveness but also the opportunity to let go of your problems.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit where you will not be disturbed for at least 30 minutes. It is best done either early evening or about one hour before going to sleep. Try not to drink alcohol beforehand, nor do this meditation on a full stomach.
Use your standard meditation practice, if you have one, to put you into a relaxed state or use the ones in Dream Your Life Positively.
- Focus on your breathing. Follow the in and out breath without attempting to control it for about 10 to 12 repetitions while imagining or actually saying mentally, ‘I feel calm and restful. I accept only what is good and positive. I reject all that is negative.’
- Still focusing on your breath, say this little prayer: Thank you God (universal force, or spirit), for all the things I have. Thank you God, for all the blessings I am receiving. I deserve to be happy and successful. I am now ready to receive more love, support and wealth from the vast supply of the universe.
- Now look into your memory bank, and find a place and time in your life, a day or even a few moments when you felt really happy. It should be a moment experienced by yourself alone. Your age at that moment doesn’t matter. Don’t bring any person with you into this place. I personally have a place under a palm tree on a beach when I was about 15 years old. I see what I am wearing, I can smell the ocean, feel the breeze and the warmth of the sun over my body and it never fails; it brings immediate peace of mind.
- Re-live that moment in full. Try to bring back the smell, colors, and temperature, everything that made that moment the best ever for you. Feel the joy in your heart. Feel how good it is to be happy and how little it takes to make it come true. Stay with this moment for a while. This is the feeling you treasure and want to have every day of your life. This is now your safe place. Your ‘calm place’. Your vacation place. Revel in these memories and this moment. In this state of joy and happiness repeat the above prayer and add at the end this affirmation: I accept only what is good and positive. I reject all that is negative. The breathing exercise, prayer and visualization should last about 20 minutes. If at any time you feel anxious and uneasy, stop at once.
Slowly open your eyes and bring yourself back to your room. Stay in this pure state of bliss for about 5 more minutes but now bring to mind the issue that is disturbing you. Empathize with the person who hurt you, or if you still feel uneasy about the situation simply ask God to help you find the strength to make the right choice of forgiveness. Now stop and do not duel with the issue any more. Leave it alone for tonight and let it stay there in your mind but detached from your thoughts. Repeat again: I accept only what is good and positive. I reject all that is negative.
You can now go back to your own routine or re-visualize your ‘calm place’ and go to sleep. Try to use only one ‘calm place’ all the time. It becomes stronger and more vivid with time. You can later change it if you want. You will see the small changes that will start operating the following day when the positive energy you brought forth starts to work. You will see that you are actually smiling more often than before…
What this exercise teaches is how to re-connect with the positive and happy side you have been hiding. Now you know how to detach yourself from the pain, hurt and problems and it feels good. No more analyzing or making a storm about the problem. You have learned how to leave them alone. Letting go is not throwing away or getting rid of your worries. They will be there tomorrow, but you are no longer attached to them 24/7 and like a miracle they also detach themselves from you.
Have a great journey. Much love.
Ton Pascal Bio and Resources:
Ton Pascal is a self thought , self help advocate and author. His Dream Your Life Positively is a beautiful guide to visualization and meditation. He believes that the times we are facing in our world require a more spiritual approach to our everyday lives. Check his site http://www.dreamyourlifepositively.com or order Dream Your Life Positively on Amazon.com.