Thinking about holiday gifts? Consider this one. The gift of forgiveness is the most freeing gift you can give yourself and others. Where we cannot forgive is where our hearts have closed to life. It is essential to look at this because it is where we have shut out life from coming in. When we feel ready to attend to those places where we have said no to life, we can sit in quiet and simply ask inside, where do I hold anger today? Make a list of what comes up, do not edit it, just list. This is your trail to feeling free inside, to opening to the possibilities of more than you can imagine right now.
Let us not mistake forgiveness for other things. When we forgive, we do not forget. When we forgive we are not saying what happened was okay. When we forgive it does not mean that we will have a relationship in the future with someone who has harmed us. When we forgive it does not mean that our life will change automatically on the outside. When we forgive it does not mean that we are taking responsibility for something someone else has done. When we forgive we do not immediately feel all better.
What forgiveness does mean is this. We have determined we are not going to let the past dictate the present. We accept the past simply for what it was. We take responsibility for setting boundaries in life with everyone around us. We no longer want to blame anyone for our life condition. We realize we have authentic power to create the quality of life we truly desire. We do not wish for revenge, we wish for internal peace. We accept others flaws and choices even when we disagree with them or find them disagreeable. We act according to our own rulebook of life. We aspire to feel whole and happy without limitations imposed by our history.
How do we forgive? We decide we want to, even if we don’t like the idea. We see our past as over, knowing that holding onto anger only keeps it alive. We accept others and ourselves, saying it was what it was. We determine what we want in life and focus on those possibilities rather than attending to the past. We inwardly determine that we release ourselves from needing anything from anyone in order to be happy. We feel all the feelings associated with our grievance, and we express that emotion fully without harming another. We do not seek revenge or an apology. We know we are proceeding in our forgiving process as we become aware that we no longer spend much time or energy with the idea or memory of the grievance. We can feel a softening within when we remember. We may begin to see the past in a different light, with new eyes. We feel stronger about our future and our ability to create what we want.
Forgiving is a process, a journey. It is one of the great journeys of life, teaching us much about our capacity for love and healing. Whatever has happened to cause the journey becomes one of our greatest teachers about the human spirit and its potential to open the heart and let go. In that letting go we are free to travel into the future unbound from emotional and mental burdens that weigh us down and hold us back. In truth, forgiveness is the great gift that we give ourselves, a gift we all deserve to have.