Forgive Yourself First
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” — Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness does not erase the past, but looks upon it with compassion.
To withhold forgiveness keeps alive emotions of hurt, anger and blame which discolour your perception of life.
To forgive, avoid ruminating on thoughts of being wronged. Rather, trust the power of forgiveness to heal the hurt and pain.
By holding on to pain and resentment, you suffer because the sorrow is intensified to keep it alive.
Despite people’s perceptions that forgiveness means to forget, its motive is preserved in self-forgiveness and the role you played in co-creating the circumstances.
This does not mean you consented to what transpired. Given your involvement, even as a victim, you forgive yourself regardless of your role.
Forgiveness means to let go of hatred, instead of allowing it to eat at you.
In the 2009 film Invictus, Nelson Mandala played by actor Morgan Freeman avows to the African National Congress in a show of defiance, “Forgiveness starts here…Forgiveness liberates the soul… It removes fear, that is why it is such a powerful weapon…The past is the past, we look to the future.”
Remarkably, there’s a close link between negative emotions and illness, documented over the past decade by several leading doctors.
Toxic and destructive emotions have the potential to activate certain diseases if we don’t attend to our emotional wellbeing.
I acknowledge it is difficult to forgive a perpetrator for wrongdoing and it goes against our moral code. Yet, if you consider it from a greater perspective, forgiveness is associated with your emotional welfare, not merely granting the other person pardon.
“At the end of the day, forgiveness is really not for the other person’s benefit at all — it’s for our own. Regardless of how illogical it may seem at times, it is through unconditional forgiveness that we surrender the past to the past and enter the present, freeing ourselves to stand in the infinite Light that knows how to heal our deepest and most painful wounds,” states author Dennis Merritt Jones.
Anger and Resentment
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” — Paul Boese
I grew up in a strained relationship with my father and carried resentment towards my emotional mishandling for a long time.
Yet, I experienced a profound shift when I forgave him and myself. I saw the greater lesson of my experiences which was guiding me towards self-love.
It was brought about through a change in awareness that undermined my limiting beliefs: “What if my relationship with my father was perfectly orchestrated to teach me self-love?” From that day, I realised there are no accidents in this purposeful universe, only our perceptions that distort the truth.
Anger and resentment keeps us stuck in the past replaying disempowering emotions, instead of living in the present moment.
People wish for a happier life yet are reluctant to let go of toxic emotions, believing forgiving their perpetrator erases the past. This is the furthest from the truth.
“When you’re wounded, especially by significant people in your life, your empowerment is challenged, and your worthiness is called into question. The vulnerability your loss of empowerment creates within you allows the wound to damage your worthiness,” affirms author Mario Martinez in The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success.
From a spiritual perspective, the ego feeds off fear and convinces us we were wronged. It holds on to anger and resentment to keep the pain alive.
Transform Destructive Emotions
“The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.” — Confucius
Conversely, love asserts the opposing view — forgiveness, peace and joy.
It was the late Dr. Wayne Dyer who said you can be happy or you can be right, but you can’t be both. We must let go of destructive emotions to discover peace and happiness because the two cannot coexist.
Irrespective of the circumstances, you respond to the past with compassion, not hold on to the experiences.
Confucius said: “The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.”
So, you choose positive emotions if you wish to live a fulfilling life.
Anger and resentment is a call for self-love since what you crave is to be loved and appreciated.
In light of that, let go of that which stands in your way because forgiveness is the bridge that leads you there.
Look into your heart and forgive yourself for being co-conspirators in the experience. A co-conspirator is identified as someone involved in the experience instead of consenting to it.
“Rather than forgiving the perpetrator or minimizing the intensity of the misdeed, you recover the empowerment and self-worthiness you thought had been taken from you,” states author Mario Martinez.
You forgive that part of you that holds on to resentment and in doing so, you transform any destructive emotions and rise above fear.
It was the late psychiatrist and consciousness research Dr. David Hawkins who showed that Fear has a lower consciousness level, in contrast to Love which registers higher. Fear registers as 100 on a logarithmic scale, while Love registers as 500. The energy of Love is calibrated higher and capable of disentangling lower emotional states.
When faced with holding on to anger and resentment, forgive yourself and others. Each time you experience fear, choose forgiveness over hatred.
As you do, you heal yourself and raise your awareness, leading to inner freedom.
I wish to leave you with a poignant quote from author Dennis Merritt Jones in his book Your Redefining Moments: “Forgiveness is the practice that opens the window and exposes our wounds to the Light, and it is a practice that, as long as we live in a human skin, we’ll have a need to employ throughout our lives.”
By exposing your wounds to the Light not only do you heal your suffering, you invite Love to transform your anguish.
In that act of clemency you are reunited with the wholeness of who you are.