Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.
– Jonathan Lockwood
Most of the time, people feel it’s tough to forgive because, the person (to be forgiven) doesn’t deserve it. Others feel, it is God who has to forgive them, not us. A lot of people also say that, it is their ego which stops them from forgiving. But what is Forgiving actually? It is an act, which removes stress from your mind and helps you feel lighter, clearer and more relaxed.
One of my friends asked me, “do you forgive even that person, who intentionally hurt you, physically or mentally?”. My answer was simple: “Yes, I forgive everyone, in order to release the burden from my shoulders, rather than fix the other person”. I went on to explain; some people hurt others just as a reaction to their own feelings. The intention may not be to hurt; it’s more to prove a point. If you explain the situation and your response to these people and forgive them, they should ideally understand and correct themselves. However, if a person tried to hurt you intentionally, physically or mentally, and is not ready to listen to you, then the purpose of forgiving, in this case, is to relax your mind and release the person from your shoulders.
I mentioned releasing people from off your shoulders, a couple of times now. You may be wondering what that means. With the help of an example, lets see what happens when someone hurts you.
You become depressed and stressed if the thought is not released at the earliest by forgiving. Because of this stress, you could start having a mild headache, and then the pain could spread to your shoulders. You may get a stiff neck or frozen shoulder, which could, in turn, lead to spondylitis. This pain is equal to a person sitting on your shoulders or back. Most of the time, when you have a stiff shoulder or back, it means that you are strongly holding on to some bad experience of the past. Even after taking medical treatment, you will still not be able to get rid of this pain. Try forgiveness, and this will definitely reduce the pain.
As important as forgiving someone is, forgiving oneself is also very key. Yes, we must forgive ourselves too, for those acts, where we have hurt our own feelings. We may have made some mistakes in life. We may still be repenting about some. These will, after a while, become guilt and shame. Mistakes do happen, forgiving yourself and forgetting the incident will help lower your anxiety levels. Maybe it’s a decision which caused big damage to yourself and even your loved ones. Even then, after an honest effort to fix the issue, it is important to let it go, through forgiving. Making sure the mistake is not repeated is even more important. We can’t make a mistake over and over, then keep forgiving ourselves.
There is another important step, after forgiving. “Forgeting”. Yes, forgetting the incident is a bigger act than forgiving. Once you have forgiven someone or your self, it is important to forget the incident too. This means that, you will not be able to have any bitter or bad feelings, about the incident, ever afterwards.
Why should you carry resentment, anger or stress because of what someone else did or said? These feelings/emotions are like poison to the one who indulges in it. ONLY the one who consumes it, suffers. It hurts the consumer more than the, so-called, wrong-doer. If we want a pleasant surrounding and a happy life, we should practice forgivingness. It’s for our own benefit more than anyone elses. In turn, we may also help the other person with his deeds.
Here are a few effective ways, that you could adopt, for forgiving someone. These are NOT the only ways, but I’m sharing what I found really effective in my personal experience.
Face-to-Face: It’s not easy to gather the courage to face someone who has hurt you and talk calmly to them. It could become a bigger problem if things do not go well. The first thing is to make up your mind, not to revolt or retaliate to anything that person says or does. Your purpose is to forgive and forget. (Speak to the person and say, “whatever has happened, has happened and it was because of the rush of blood at that point in time that, things happened the way they did. Let’s please forget the incident and continue our lives normally”. Make sure you let the person know and understand that, things can go wrong but, it’s imperitive how we handle situation. Tell them if needed, softly, that behaving matured, forgetting the incident and letting it go is more important than scoring points against each other.) You do not have to use the word, “forgive”, in your conversation. It’s obvious by the right action you take.
Forgiveness meditation: Yes, you read it right; meditation! This technique can be used in two instances here. Firstly, where you can not gather enough courage to face the person and secondly, when you know the other person is not ready to listen (maybe it will create a bigger problem meeting them face to face). In such situations, get into a meditation position in a silent place, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then bring the image of the person, whom you want to forgive, into your mind, narrate the incident to yourself, forgive the person for whatever happened and let him/her go off your mind. Now that you have forgiven, you will start to feel lighter. But that’s not where it ends. Over the next couple of days work on forgetting the incident too. The same exercise can be undertaken for all those unpleasant incidents of your life, even those which have happened a long time ago, that have been causing hurt to you, repeatedly. Spend some time making a list of all those incidents and do the forgiveness meditation for all of them. Playing some soothing, mild music, while meditating, will be a good addition.
Mirror exercise: There is a mention of the mirror exercise in one of my earlier posts. This is the best technique for self-forgiveness. Here you have to face yourself in the mirror to forgive yourself. Stand in front of the mirror, look deep into your eyes, think of the event and tell yourself “I know whatever happened, happened based on the decision I could take at that moment. I forgive myself for whatever happened and choose to forget the incident; I release and relax my mind from the incident.” I am sure there will be more than one incident, just repeat the same exercise, bring the incident in front of you, then forgive yourself and and forget the incident.
People: There will be times in life when, you are very clear that you want to forgive and forget, but people around you, will not allow that to happen because of their vile ways. Some people don’t want that to happen, as they enjoy talking and commenting about other people’s issues. Some people like to keep the gossips going and a few don’t want the wound to heal either. They will keep reminding you of some past incident that caused you hurt and even offer guidance on how to revenge the person etc. The best way to overcome such people/perils, is to begin with ignoring such people’s presence and comments and do what you feel is best for you. At times you may have to explicitly express to them that, you do not like to talk about it and/or tell them not to raise it again. If the person is a real wellwisher, they will stop talking about the topic. If not they may begin gossiping about you only. But that shouldn’t bother one whose intent is clear. Time will heal any wrong impressions or misunderstandings that may crop up due to our determination.
An important thing to keep in mind is, once you forgive, there should be no negative feelings towards the person you have forgiven. It is only then that it will be established that you have truly forgiven that person, from the heart. As mentioned earlier, forgiveness is the process to clear your mind of toxic data and thereby stay in good health. Once Buddha rightly said, “Forgive people in your life, even those who are not sorry for their actions. Holding on to anger only hurts you, not them.”
In the current unprecedented situations that we all are going through, there is so much hate being infused by some people. Forgiving those who are trying to do this will relax your mind and help you maintain good self-health. Most importantly try and avoid reacting to such hate-mongers, and keep away from NEWS and social media as far as possible.
I hope all my readers are following the rules set by your respective governments on the lockdown. It’s a phase which will pass, and things will be normal soon—reminding us once again, to make the best use of your Lockdown time.
Stay home. Stay Safe!