Project Description

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
— Lewis B. Smedes

The Gift of Forgiveness

Anger, bitterness, and resentment are a big part of the unease we feel. As we mentioned in last week’s discussion of relationships, the negative feelings that are triggered in us by others exist only because we allow them to. But when it comes to feeling deep hurt or the sense that we’ve been wronged, an extra step is needed to truly heal. That step is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a much-misunderstood action. It is not about condoning bad behaviour. Choosing to forgive simply means that you no longer carry anger, bitterness, or resentment toward someone else, regardless of what he or she did or said.

The first person you must forgive is yourself. Forgiving yourself is often more difficult than forgiving others. Yet once you do this, you will end your self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-criticism and start to mend the rift that has effectively cut you off from life and those within it.

Exercise

Think about someone toward whom you harbour negative thoughts and resentment. Ask yourself how that separation is making you feel. Sit for a moment and let the negative thoughts do their work. Then ask yourself, “How am I feeling?”

Be honest and courageous about expressing your true feelings. As we practiced earlier, if you are angry, admit it to yourself, and say to yourself, without reacting, “I am angry.” If you are sad or hurt, say, “I am sad” or “I am hurt,” etc. Being truthful about your feelings is a very important step in learning to change your reality from one of fear to one of sustainable love and joy.

Next, in the moment of unease, note where in your body you feel uneasy. Simply sit quietly and direct your awareness toward your physical pain or discomfort. Where in the body do you feel the unease?

Identify what you are feeling: nausea, stomach discomfort, a heavy heart, headaches, tight muscles, nervousness, anxiety, weakened legs, arms, or chest, and so on.

Breathe into the pain and discomfort, and as you exhale allow the breath to carry them away with it. After a short time, your body will feel rested.

Once you have isolated the negative energy in the body that has fed your thoughts, simply observe the thoughts. Without the pain in the body, the thought will be isolated, and you can witness it with the mind as if in a 3D movie theatre. As thoughts come and go, realize what those thoughts are.

Continue to sit quietly and breathe. Follow the breath with your mind.

Now, simply forgive the bringer of the unease. Drop the thought! Forgive and forget.

If you find this hard to do, quietly say to yourself, “I forgive you, [Name], and accept you as you are.” Or “I love you, [Name], and accept you as you are.”

Repeat this if you have to – several times, even if it is challenging!

Now recognize the feeling in your body. You will feel the peace you are generating – you must, as positivity and love will always overcome negativity and fear. Always. We just need practice.

Sit quietly and continue to breathe, enjoying the peacefulness you have just manifested into your reality. It doesn’t mean that it will cure everything that troubles you – it means you are learning how to truly forgive, and in that forgiveness your freedom rests.

Remember, this week – whenever you experience unease, stop, go within, and breathe; do not react. Instead, bring the person or bringer of the unease to mind, and then, in the instant you recognize the bringer, say this in the quiet of your mind: “I love you, [Name], and accept you as you are.”

Go about your day and totally enjoy the freedom this simple exercise gives you!