Forgiveness: Five Ways to Lighten Your Load
So, today I'd like to give a few tips on the how of forgiving. Because, when all is said and done, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Wouldn't it be nice to stop carrying the unhelpful, useless baggage of resentment and feel lighter and happier? Well, here are 5 tips that will help you lighten your load. I guarantee that if you put forth effort to practice even one of them it will greatly increase your peace!
1. "The more one knows, the more one forgives." -Confucius
I like to think of that great quote in this light: If you really KNEW the reality behind what was happening in your life (think "Grand Design"), you would realize that everything is happening for a reason. Our worst experiences are our greatest teachers and gifts. I know (oh, trust me...I know) that this can be very, very hard. However, I also know that it's true. So, for this first tip, I recommend just becoming open to this idea. Give yourself permission to be open to a greater level of understanding. Just this simple act of being open will create a sacred space for a happier, wiser state of consciousness.
2. Be grateful. No, this doesn't mean saying "Gee, thanks!" when someone cuts you off in traffic. It means that you are aware that, again, everything in your life is a blessing (albeit often in disguise) and that you are conscious enough to say thanks to your Higher Power - whether that be God, your higher self, the Universe, Buddha, or Santa. Open yourself to the possibility that this experience is a great teacher, here to make you more free, happy, and wise. Perhaps it will make your life from this point on much easier because you will no longer sweat the small stuff. Gratitude is also one of those magical qualities in life that just shifts everything and clarifies your understanding.
3. Find a mirror that you are comfortable looking into. For a few minutes every day, say the following to yourself as you gaze into your eyes: "I love myself by letting go" and "I am open to forgiveness." Feel free to throw in any other hokey affirmations, as long as they actually work (and most really do).
4. Realize that just because you choose to forgive another person does not mean you condone their behavior. Yes, your husband may have run off with your best friend (on your wedding night to your mom's house), but that doesn't mean you need to let it ruin your life. It means that other people are acting in an ignorant, selfish manner. They are being unkind, but still human. However, everyone has faults and makes big mistakes. The best thing you can do for yourself is to choose who you want to work things out with and who you want to say goodbye to. Forgiving does not mean continuing to spend time in unhealthy relationships. You can forgive for your own well-being while simultaneously maintaining a space of defined boundaries.
5. When in doubt, visualize! The power of your own imagination is huge. Huge, I say! If you change your consciousness on the matter through the power of your thoughts and mental images, you will be able to watch the entire situation shift with ease. To begin, become aware of your current state of consciousness on the subject. Just observe what is going on in your mind. You may notice a lot of thoughts like "Why can't I forgive?" and "That jerk!". To shift into the happy place, all you need to do is begin to change your thoughts and images to a state of positive affirmation. For example, when you catch yourself thinking "I'm so mad at her," you can replace it with the thought "I love this feeling of forgiveness!". Reinforce this with your imagery as well. In fact, it would be extremely helpful to spend just a few minutes every day imagining the ideal situation. See yourself feeling lighter and lighter, happier and happier. Visualize yourself being confronted with that person and feeling completely at peace. See yourself surrounded and engulfed in brilliant love and light. Yes, this may sound new-agey, but who cares? It works!