I’ve been noticing other people’s writings and reflecting quite a bit on forgiveness and why it’s necessary. What can forgiveness do for us? What kinds of things do we need to forgive?
Usually, we hear about forgiveness when people are telling us we “should” forgive someone else for something they’ve done or said.
First, I would point out that “should” is one of what I call the “7 dirty words” that stop our success and happiness. There are no useful “should”s in the world, in my humble opinion (IMHO). Now, if someone suggests to me that it might be more effective to forgive someone, then I sit up and take notice, because I like to be happier and effective! Now to get down from the “should” soap box…
The second thing I’d point out about forgiving others is that we first need to forgive ourselves! Just as we must love ourselves before we can love others completely, we must forgive ourselves before we can forgive others completely. When I hold judgments of myself, then I automatically harbor judgments about others. You could call it a natural law of psychology. I think I’m going to name it the Magic Mirror Law, because what you see when you look in the mirror at yourself is what you automatically then see in others you interact with. See love in yourself, see love in others; see unforgivable things in yourself, see unforgivable things in others.
At first, it may take some practice to see situations in your life where the Magic Mirror Law is in action. I’m going to challenge you to take some time to reflect (haha, no pun intended) on a person in your own life that does something in particular that bothers you. Think about what you see that person doing. Then, look for a time in your life when you did a similar thing to someone else or to yourself. Here’s an example: if I have someone in my life who is critical of me, I would look back in my life to see how often I have been critical of others or myself. Chances very high that when I am someone who easily finds fault with myself or others, then I’m going to see people enter my life that are critical of me. That’s the Magic Mirror Law in action–what I see in myself is what I see in other people. If you have trouble seeing it, send me an email describing the situation and perhaps I can help you identify it.
You might be asking why it matters. The reason it matters is that before you can change the way others treat you, you must change the way you treat yourself. Then, as you treat yourself differently, you begin to treat others differently and eventually others are going to treat you differently, hopefully in more accepting and loving ways.
One of the main benefits of forgiveness is that once we’ve forgiven something, we can let it go. It’s another way to reduce the clutter in our lives–mental clutter in this case. I named this article “Let It Go”, because we must let go of the past before we can be free to create a new future. And, at the end of a year is the perfect time to consider what we would prefer our next year to be like. Consider what you’d like more of in the coming year. If you’d like more love, then consider what resentments and criticisms you could let go of. If you’d like more freedom, then consider which ties that you resent that you could forgive and let go of.
Before you can let go of the past, you must be sure that you’ve forgiven yourself and others for past “failures, mistakes and should-haves”. The resentments keep you tied to your present reality. When you are ready for a different reality, you must untie the resentments, i.e. forgive them, so that you can live in that different reality.
Many little things we can easily let go of, by simply reminding ourselves in that very moment to simply let it go. The more we are able to do this for the little things, the easier it becomes to do it for the “big things” in life–hurts and bitterness of what others should have done or what life should have been like. No one has never promised us that life would be easy or free of things to forgive. Part of living the good life is to learn to let go of the past and move toward the life we would like to have. Each day, a step closer.
I challenge you to take a little time this week to consider what you’d like to have different in your life this coming year. Then, look at what you might have to let go of in order to live that life. Practice letting go of the past in order to give yourself space to welcome in the new.
Here’s an article I recently read “6 Things You Should Forgive Yourself For“. While I would change the “should” in the title, the article is right on target about the importance of forgiving yourself.