A Course in Forgiveness by Gerald Crawford

I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland. Develop gratitude with grace and change your life with a universal truth.

Category: Well-being

The Empowering Truth About Forgiveness

Walking around with a chip on my shoulder only hurts me. Of course, I wish my father had appreciated my accomplishments, but instead of being mad about it, I’ve chosen forgiveness.

If I still had open wounds and unfinished emotional business, that burden would prevent me from being the husband and father I am today. For me, that is the ultimate example of the power of forgiveness.

When you believe you’ve been cheated, offended, betrayed or otherwise treated unfairly, you might understandably feel like a victim. Perhaps you’re the kind of person who gets so upset that you just want to sit in the corner and eat some worms. Or your blood might start boiling as you contemplate how you’re going to get even. With rage in your heart and clenched fists, you may feel invincible. The truth is that you have never been weaker.

Why? You’re letting somebody else dictate your emotions and control you. When you’re locked up in an emotional prison, you give away your power.

Let’s say, for instance, that a friend gossiped about you, or someone at work took credit for your ideas. You’re really pissed off, and the anger and resentment have started to eat away at you. You may be 100 percent justified, but you’re the one left paying the price because you’ve let another person make you miserable. In fact, the negativity stretches beyond your own well-being. Think about what happens when there’s a skunk in your backyard: The odor permeates your whole house. Bitterness spreads like that. It can contaminate not only your emotions but also your relationships; the stench in your heart can affect the way you treat your kids or your spouse because it literally changes who you are.

I’m not saying you have to give the other person a pass. As I’ve often said, it’s good to forgive and bad to forget. I may forgive someone, but I sure don’t forget what he did because I don’t want to be stupid enough to let it happen again. What I am saying is that forgiveness allows you to unlock the bonds of hostility and set yourself free.

Now, if you’re thinking you’ll just wait until a wave of generosity and grace washes over your soul, you’ll be waiting a long time. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s a choice you consciously make. You have to decide to tell yourself, She is not worthy of one more ounce of my energy or thoughts. I am withdrawing my investment in bitterness and hatred so I can invest more fully in the people I love and care about. She may have had a hold on me, but now I am choosing to shake her loose. I am taking back the ability to decide who I am, what I think, how I feel and whom I focus on. That’s where my power comes from. I will not let anyone else turn my heart cold or change who I am.

The other person doesn’t need to know about your decision. I’ve forgiven people who may not have even known they’d transgressed against me. Had I said, “Hey, I just want you to know that I forgive you,” they probably wouldn’t have had a clue what I was talking about. There’s no need to go through any drama because this isn’t about the other person. It’s all about you casting off the unhappiness and grudges that are weighing you down.

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself because you deserve to rise above pain and hurt.

Strengths for Stress

Words can empower, build people up, and cause personal transformation. And words can destroy, subtly or overtly crush people, and cause deep pain.

Today, I turn to two-word phrases that are empowering. These three phrases are the core parts of three of your character strengths.

Gratitude

When the wildly popular poet Mary Oliver was asked “What is spirituality?” she had this to say (paraphrasing): It’s when we go about our day and to each person we meet and to each thing we encounter, we say, “Thank you, thank you.”

What would happen if you used your strength of gratitude in this way? Could you say that (and mean it) to your colleague who is disagreeing with you? To your child who is screaming his head off? To your neighbor who is complaining to you about your lawn? Could you say a heartfelt “thank you” to the trees you pass by as you walk, the squirrel galloping by, and the piece of trash floating in the wind?

Forgiveness

Forgiveness, at its core, is about letting go. It’s the opposite of clinging, holding closely to your grudges or harboring anger from misgivings of the past. Let’s turn to the wisdom of a child named Ian, who was interviewed about how he handles problems in school. He shares how he turns to his forgiveness strength at difficult times and uses the phrase, “It’s OK, it’s OK,” when someone wrongs him.

What do you need to say, “It’s OK” to? Can you say it (and mean it) to someone who apologizes to you after they hurt you? Can you say, “It’s OK, it’s OK,” to yourself when you feel anger or sadness welling up inside you, allowing the feeling to just be there? What about when you feel the world seems unfair and filled with nothing but hardship?

Curiosity

At its core, your character strength of curiosity is about exploration. To be curious about something is to intend to gather more information, to build new ideas, to gravitate to a new experience. Our attention becomes captivated in the moment, and we open ourselves to learning and experiencing the newness. Our mind is fresh and ready, and we feel refreshed.

You can prompt yourself to your curious mind with a response of “That’s interesting, that’s interesting.” Mental health professionals say this all the time to clients to show interest and to encourage the client to share more. We use this phrase in our conversation with a friend out getting a drink, in our friendly debates with someone who offers a different point of view, and when someone shares something surprising or insightful with us. “Hmmm, that’s interesting,” we say.

What would it be like to go about your day with this phrase in mind? Might you say it to yourself when you are struggling with a work project? When you feel stressed out in your relationship? When you are sitting in traffic? What positive action might this curiosity prompt?

Taking Action

These three character strengths – gratitude, forgiveness, and curiosity – have hundreds of scientific studies supporting their existence, uses, and benefits. Pick one strength.

If you were to focus on one of these strengths – using a phrase above – two things would be very likely:

1. You’d feel a boost to your personal well-being.

2. You’d be making others feel better, more empowered, or more connected to you.

So, what do you have to lose? Pick one of these strengths, use the phrase as much as you can (verbally or nonverbally) as you go about your day interacting with others and connecting with the larger world . . . and reap the benefits!

I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland.