Many of us, over the course of our lives, have found cause to feel anger, dislike or even hatred towards others based on some real or imagined slight. And perhaps that anger has lingered over many years and remains present as a reminder of the injustices wrought upon us by those terrible people.
Those of us who have permitted anger or even hatred to permeate our lives and inhabit our awareness would be well served to heed the truthfulness of the quote by Buddha who said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
If we have carried anger, bitterness and hatred like an albatross around our necks we have expended untold quantities of negative energy in aimless pursuit of …what?
Today I’m going to recommend we all adopt the habit of forgiveness. We are familiar with the old cliché that reminds us to forgive and forget? The forgetting part is a bit challenging as we do not come equipped with a delete button to allow us to permanently erase memories that no longer serve us well. We do, however, have a perspective button that allows us to move forward with our lives without being held down by the heavy chains of anger, bitterness and hatred.
The obvious place to begin applying the habit of forgiveness is most often with ourselves. If the old axiom that tells us that we cannot truly love others until we love ourselves rings true then the same can be said for forgiveness. Many of us carry the burden of self-anger, self-disgust and self-hatred that we have brought into our being by virtue of past actions and behaviors.
I relate so well to those who have at times denigrated themselves constantly with the anger that comes from self-loathing.
The sad truth is, regardless of how poorly or inappropriately or even criminally we may have acted in the past, nothing we can ever do can erase those actions, those deeds, from the history books, but there comes a time when, if we really wish to become positive and contributing human beings and to maximize the value we bring to this planet, we need to begin by forgiving ourselves.
Regardless of how egregious our past behaviours may have been, our ability to become better human-beings can only begin once we have taken that first step forward and forgiven ourselves.
And forgiving ourselves grants us the liberating catharsis that we can then re-experience repeatedly as we allow ourselves to forgive others.
Forgiveness is not condoning the actions of others. In fact, forgiveness is never about others, it’s about us. Forgiveness means that we have made the energizing and empowering decision to move forward with our lives and no longer be encumbered by the destructive, energy sapping, soul-destroying feelings that rob us of valuable moments or hours or days which could be far better used to bring joy and happiness into our being.
On Saturday, December 15th of last year, the day after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that stole the lives of 20 young children and six adults, I watched the grief stricken father of one of those young children address the media. The grace and graciousness of this man was a remarkable lesson to all in the cleansing power and healing light of forgiveness.
He began by saying that he wished to express his condolences to the families of all of the victims, including the family of the shooter, because their pain was no less heart wrenching then the pain being experienced by all the other victim’s families.
He spoke at length about his beautiful little girl and how he, his wife and children were torn apart by the pain of her loss. When asked if he had harbored hatred for the shooter he replied that he would not tarnish or dishonor the memory of his precious daughter whose life exuded love, by allowing those memories to be experienced through the distorting prism of hatred. He said there was no place in his heart for hatred because hatred would simply serve as a victory for the shooter. He did not want hatred to be a part of the grieving process that he and his family were going through now, nor at any time in the future.
Anger, hatred, bitterness and grudges serve only to imprison the holders of such feelings. I am convinced that, in most cases, those whose actions have led to anger, hatred, bitterness and grudges in us have long since moved on, forgotten the event and, perhaps, never for a moment believed themselves to be responsible for anything.
Think of a time when you were cut off in traffic by another driver, leaving you exploding in rage. That driver then sped away never to be seen by you again. Quite possibly, that driver may not even have been aware of cutting you off – we all know that there are relatively few good drivers out there and those of us who are exceptional drivers are members of a very small elite club.
So here you are, angry, and there he/she is, far off in the distance, fading from view and blissfully unaware of having cut you off and of your ballistic state.
It’s a little bit like solitaire – you are the only player in the game.
The only player in the hate game is the hater.
And unlike solitaire, as the only player in the game, the hater has no chance of winning and, in fact, the longer we play the game, the more we lose.
Carrying these emotions within us is akin to serving a sentence. If we wish to be paroled and released back into the freedom of our pre-angry lives all we have to do is forgive. Nothing we can do is more freeing, and there is little we will ever do that will give us more absolute control and mastery of our lives.
Anger is the chain that holds us down; forgiveness is the key to freedom.
The habit of forgiveness is one we should all strive for because we can never achieve the joy and happiness that life offers us when we are imprisoned by the dark energy of anger.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.P.S. Please give some thought to being a guest blogger. If you, or someone you know, has struggled with letting go of anger or bitterness, or if you, or they, have experienced the freedom that forgiveness brings please share your story. Stories inspire and perhaps through your story, someone’s life will change in a way they never dreamed possible. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.
Final P.S. A number of people have contacted me regarding the previous three blogs and have shared their struggles in creating a list in order to accept my 30 Day Challenge.
They have asked for a few examples of affirmations that others have used.
Here are a few that some folks have shared with me:
I love myself unconditionally.
I radiate perfect health in very cell of my body.
I feel strength and confidence in everything I do.
I life with joy in my heart at all times.
I own my emotions and make wise choices in deploying them.
I believe something wonderful will happen in my world today.
My body is moving closer to my ideal weight every day.
I wake up each morning filled with positive expectancy.
I perform my job with perfection of execution.
I am excited and proud of my freedom from drugs.
Remember, an affirmation is simply a positive statement about yourself that you would like to believe to be true, even if you do not presently believe it to be true.
If you would like to participate in the 30 Day Challenge I suggest you read the previous three blogs and then:
- Make a list of what you wish to believe to be true of yourself – not necessarily what you actually believe to be true. Your list may contain only one statement or as many as you want. Each statement needs to be a positive affirmation of what you would like to believe.
- Commit to passionately and enthusiastically reading that list over and over and over again at least four times each day for 5 to 10 minutes each time. Remember, congruency is everything.
- For the next 30 days, once you have completed your affirmations four or more times, email me at Ididit@strategicpathways.net with the word “Done” in the subject line.