Anyone who has a problem with loving themselves is stuck in this area. Forgiveness opens our hearts to self-love. Many of us carry grudges for years and years.
We feel self-righteous because of what they did to us. I call this being stuck in the prison of self righteous resentment. We get to be right. We never get to be happy.
I can almost hear you saying, “But you don’t know what they did to me; it’s unforgivable.” Being unwilling to forgive is a terrible thing to do to yourself. Bitterness is like swallowing a teaspoon of poison every day. It accumulates and harms you. It’s impossible to be healthy and free when you keep yourself bound to the past. The incident is long gone and over with. Yes, it’s true that they didn’t behave well. However, it’s over. You might feel that if you forgive them, then you’re saying that what they did to you was okay.
One of our biggest spiritual lessons is to understand that everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment. People can only do so much with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that they have.
Invariably, anyone who mistreats someone was mistreated themselves as a child. The greater the violence, the greater their own inner pain, and the more they may lash out. This is not to say that their behavior is acceptable or excusable. However, for our own spiritual growth, we must be aware of their pain.
The incident is over. Perhaps long over. Let it go. Allow yourself to be free.
Come out of prison, and step into the sunshine of life. If the incident is still going on, then ask yourself why you think so little of yourself that you still put up with it. Why do you stay in such a situation? Don’t waste time trying to “get even.” It doesn’t work. What you give out always comes back to you. So drop the past and work on loving yourself in the now. Then you’ll have a wonderful future.
That person who is the hardest to forgive is the one who can teach you the greatest lessons. When you love yourself enough to rise above the old situation, then understanding and forgiveness will be easy. And you’ll be free. Does freedom frighten you? Does it feel safer to be stuck in your old resentment and bitterness?
Exercise: Family Attitudes
Answer the following questions as best you can.
- Was your mother a forgiving person?
- Was your father?
- Was bitterness a way of handling hurtful situations in your family?
- How did your mother get even?
- What about your father?
- How do you get even?
- Do you feel good when you get revenge?
- Why do you feel this way?
An interesting phenomenon is that when you do your own forgiveness work, other people often respond to it. It’s not necessary to go to the persons involved and tell them you forgive them. Sometimes you’ll want to do this, but you don’t have to. The major work in forgiveness is done in your own heart.
Forgiveness is seldom for “them.” It’s for us. The person you need to forgive may even be dead.
I’ve heard from many people who have truly forgiven someone, and then a month or two later, they may receive a phone call or a letter from the other person, asking to be forgiven. This seems to be particularly true when forgiveness exercises are done in front of a mirror, so as you do this exercise, notice how deep your feelings might be.
Exercise: Mirror Work – Forgiveness
Mirror work is often uncomfortable and something you may want to avoid. I believe that you receive the most benefits if you sit in front of the mirror. I like to use the big dressing mirror on the back of my bedroom door. I settle in with a box of tissues.
Give yourself time to do this exercise, or you can do it over and over. Most likely you have lots of people to forgive.
Sit in front of your mirror. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply several times. Think of the many people who have hurt you in your life. Let them pass through your mind. Now open your eyes and begin talking to one of them.
Say something like: “You’ve hurt me deeply. However, I won’t stay stuck in the past any longer. I am willing to forgive you.” Take a breath and then say, “I forgive you, and I set you free.” Breathe again and say, “You are free, and I am free.”
Notice how you feel. You may feel resistance, or you may feel clear. If you feel resistance, just breathe and say, “I am willing to release all resistance.”
This may be a day when you can forgive several people. It may be a day when you can forgive only one. It doesn’t matter. No matter how you’re doing this exercise, it’s perfect for you. Forgiveness can be like peeling away the layers of an onion. If there are too many layers, put the onion away for a day. You can always come back and peel another layer. Acknowledge yourself for being willing to even begin this exercise.
As you continue to do this exercise, today or another day, expand your list of those to forgive.
- family members
- kids at school
- government agencies or figures
- church members or personnel
- medical professionals
- other authority figures
Most of all, forgive yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. Self-punishment isn’t necessary. You were doing the very best you could.
As you continue to do this exercise, you’ll find burdens melting off your shoulders. You may be surprised by the amount of old baggage you’ve been carrying. Be gentle with yourself as you go through the cleansing process.
Affirmations for Forgiveness
Make these affirmations part of your daily routine. Say them often in the car, at work, while looking in the mirror, or anytime you feel your negative beliefs surfacing.
- This is a new moment. I am free to let go.
- I take responsibility for my own life. I am free.
- I learn to forgive and release. Inner peace is my goal.
- People do the best they can with the knowledge, understanding, and awareness that they have at the time.
- I am grown up now, and I take loving care of my inner child.
- I forgive others, and I now create my life in the way I wish it to be.
- My spiritual growth is not dependent on others.
- Forgiving makes me feel free and light.
- I release myself from prison. I am safe and free.
- It is empowering to forgive and let go.
- There is no right or wrong. I move beyond my judgment.
- I am willing to go beyond my own limitations.
- My parents treated me in the way they had been treated. I forgive them – and their parents, too.
- I refuse to limit myself. I am always willing to take the next step.
- I give myself permission to let go.
Ref:. Louise L. Hay – 21 Days Affirmations