Why Forgiveness Will Change Your Life

Forgiveness is the essence of freedom. It will free you from your past; it will free you for your future. It will free up space within you to create the life and the love you really want. (I’m talkin really, really want.)

In this post, I’m going to talk about what forgiveness really is, why it’s so important, and how to make it happen. If you’re interested in changing your life, keep reading.

Most of us are under the misconception that forgiveness is about the other person. I definitely used to think this way. I thought, “They are going to come to their senses about how they have harmed me, and then they are going to come crawling back, and then maybe I’ll forgive them!” (said with a sneer and a really ugly look on my face).

Of course, that’s what I thought before I knew better, because I was listening to my ego. Thankfully, I now understand the truth about forgiveness.

The reality is that it starts and ends with you. It has very little to do with the other person. 

I know—this is hard to understand at first. But here’s the deal: what we hold onto within ourselves dictates our reality. Holding a resentment is like holding yourself hostage. Only you can release the prisoner, and (reality check) YOU are the prisoner.

We choose to forgive when we decide it’s more important to be happy than to be right. We choose to forgive when we decide we are ready to let ourselves be free.

I know this is provocative stuff. You might be thinking, “But wait, I was really, really wronged!”

And you’re right, you probably were.

Forgiveness is not about denying what was done to you. Quite the contrary, actually.

Forgiveness is about feeling the hurt, the pain, and the anger about what happened to you, and even amid all those feelings, making a choice to forgive. 

Forgiveness is a decision.

Well, why is forgiveness a decision you’d want to make? Because unresolved resentments dictate our lives.

One more time, because it’s that important that you understand this statement: resentments dictate our lives.

When we hang on to resentments we can’t escape them–we may escape the people who triggered them, but unfortunately the feelings we’re running from will make their way back into our new relationships. It’s an infuriating process!

We often think the answer is outside of us–if we just found the “right” person we wouldn’t feel the pain we’ve felt in other relationships.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the truth is that what you hold onto internally is going to show up in front of you. Resentments included. That’s the bad news.

The good news is: forgiveness is how you let it all go.

Forgiveness has the power to transform all of your relationships. (Seriously, this is powerful stuff). You can forgive anyone, and you might want to think about forgiving everyone.

But let’s start small. Choose someone you are resenting and go through these steps. See what happens. Be open to a transformation. If it works–if you actually let your harsh feelings go–your whole world can change. So why not give it a shot?

Here is a mini-guide of what to do:

Step 1: Become Willing to Forgive. 

Willingness means that you are open to the possibility of forgiving. You are OPEN to it. It is a possibility. It does not mean that all of the sudden, you’re over it. It does not mean you erase the past (which is actually just stuffing it into the unconscious—we already know this is a big no-no).

It just means that you consciously create within your mind (and heart) a space for the possibility of a new reality—the reality that you are no longer resentful; a reality that you have forgiven.

Step 2: Bring Your Resentments to the Surface. 

Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?” Clearly pinpoint the feelings you are holding. You might want to make a list—how have you felt wronged or victimized? Just get clear.

Step 3: Distinguishing Soul from Ego. 

This step is all about recognizing that we are all essentially good people who’ve been hurt, and because of this, we make mistakes and hurt others.

We have a true self, which is our inherent goodness (Soul), and a wounded self, which operates from fear (ego). It is your wounded self, not your true self, that hurts other people. This is true for everyone.

When we operate from our wounded self (out of fear and hurt), we hurt other people. And we’ve all hurt other people! Many of us have hurt people that we really love! This doesn’t happen because we’re bad. This doesn’t happen because we are flawed, or less-than, or just plain f-ed up!

It happens because we’re also hurt! And the same goes for anyone who has hurt you too. Anyone who hurts others is also hurting. Does this make it ok? Of course not! But it’s true, so it’s better to recognize it as a reality rather than staying caught in the illusion that certain people are evil.

Viewing others as “bad” calls for justification of anger and resentment; viewing others as wounded calls for compassion.

(Again, this isn’t easy, but it’s true.)

Step 4: Look at Your Part. 

It’s time to look at your part and to take some personal responsibility. Ask yourself, “How have I brought pain to this person or situation? How have I done a similar thing that was done to me?” This can be hard to do, but it is so important.

Getting honest about your part in the situation is essential. Your part may be that you’ve done something similar to what was done to you (this is often the case, especially in our adult relationships).

Or your part may be that you’ve held onto your own anger and hatred against a certain person for a long time. (This might be the case for things that happened to you when you were young.)

Get as honest as you can. Go down your list, look at the specific things you listed, and ask yourself “Have I done a similar thing?” You might be surprised at what you find.

Step 5: Surrender. 

Now you’ve done all the dirty work and it’s time to let your feelings change on their own time. All of the steps above will guide you towards a shift.

I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take, but I can tell you that if you intend for it to happen, it will. If you can, spend a few minutes each day going through these steps and see what changes.

You will forgive.

And when you do, everything else will change for you too.

Today’s article was written by Shelly Bullard and is shared from the following website: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6522/Why-Forgiveness-Will-Change-Your-Life.html

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The Importance of Forgiveness

An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is part of the process of healing and letting go of the past.

When two people are angry with each other, each side feels hurt by the other and would like to receive an apology. Unfortunately, many people believe that they “lose” by admitting they hurt the other person. So neither side apologizes and the mutual resentment continues indefinitely. It’s important to remember that you do not lose by apologizing and admitting that you have been hurting the other person. You win and so does the other person.

So what exactly is forgiveness? We have a lot of misconceptions about it. For example, that it means being weak, not demanding justice, excusing the reprehensible behavior, or letting oneself be treated badly. It’s not any of those things! Forgiveness means to cease to feel resentment against someone or something. It is very empowering to know that you can regain your sense of self. You can wake up each day without reliving the past, even though you won’t forget it.

Four myths about forgiveness

  1. Forgiving means forgetting. False! Your brain doesn’t stop remembering. Instead of dwelling on the past, you are now free to protect yourself and move on.
  2. Forgiving means you’re a pushover. Absolutely not! Forgiving puts you in a position of strength. You can still hold people accountable, but you take away that person’s power to hurt you anymore.
  3. Forgiving means you can’t get angry. Not true! You don’t excuse unkind, inconsiderate, selfish behavior nor minimize your own pain. You can’t change the past or predict the future, but you don’t have to suffer forever either.
  4. Forgiving means reconciliation. Not always! It just gives you emotional space to make decisions that are best for you. It helps you decide, with strength and confidence, what’s best for you. You can decide if you want to work things out, or just walk away or do something else.

Why should we forgive?

The Stanford Forgiveness Project has shown that learning to forgive lessens the amount of hurt, anger, stress, and depression that people experience. People who forgive also become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate and have enhanced conflict resolution skills. This research also found that people who forgive report significantly fewer physical symptoms of stress such as a backache, muscle tension, dizziness, headaches, and upset stomachs. The act of forgiveness also increases energy and overall well-being.

How to forgive

  • Acknowledge the pain you feel and recognize who is responsible for causing that pain.
  • Express your emotions in healthy ways.
  • Release any expectations you have of righting the wrong that was done to you.
  • Be mindful of or restore your boundaries so that this doesn’t happen again. Remind yourself that people cannot give you what they don’t have. Remember what to expect of others.
  • Find new ways to get your needs met in the future.
  • Don’t say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” This is not an apology, but a criticism.
  • Don’t make your apology conditional on the other person’s apology. “I’ll admit I was wrong if you admit you were wrong.” Just apologize for what you did wrong. If the other person wants to apologize back, it is their choice, but do not expect it.
  • Learning to forgive requires acceptance by acknowledging that what happened really happened, instead of wishing it were different.
  • Release the unhealthy attachment you previously maintained concerning how the other person behaves.
  • Reframe your life story and find meaning in the broken places. Redefine, recreate and restructure your life.

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Marriage… Forgiving When It’s Not Easy

When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be right? Linda K. Burton

One Bible story that stuck with me ever since I was a kid is the story about Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who has sinned against him. Jesus first replies with what would seem to be an absurd number of times – “seventy times seven” – and then He follows with a parable about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).

Hearing this story as a child, I thought, “Man, 490 times? That’s a lot of forgiving!” But, that’s the point, isn’t it? We are to never stop forgiving. And Jesus makes the point very clear that unless we forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25)

Forgiving the Unforgiveable

But, you may be thinking, “What if my spouse does something unforgiveable?” Jesus never said forgiving would be easy. But, He did say that we need to forgive, over and over again. There was no caveat that said to forgive only when the other person deserves it or to forgive if they ask for forgiveness. Matthew 6:15 says, “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is serious business.

Unfortunately, I can speak from experience in this area. I was on the receiving end of forgiveness. For many years, I struggled with pornography. This was something that began as a teenager and had progressed into a full-fledged addiction that was present even before Anne and I were married. Yet, it was something I kept hidden from my wife and everyone else. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I shared my sin and addiction with Anne, after much personal pain and confession to God. It also meant I needed to come to terms with some issues of my past.

But, as that heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders, it became a tremendous burden for Anne. For so long, I had lied to her. I had hidden something from her. I had pretended to be something I wasn’t. I was hypocritical. With every right, Anne felt betrayed. How could she trust me? How sad did this make her feel? She was disappointed. She was angry. She was hurt.

Forgiveness vs. Forget-ness

Now, that doesn’t mean she just swept it under the rug and said, “Thanks for letting me know. Just don’t let it happen again.” Forgiveness does not mean “forget-ness.” Being forgiven does not mean that your spouse will just forget about whatever it was that required the act of forgiving. Depending on the situation, it may require a time of healing, a time of rebuilding that trust you once had.

In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says:

Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don’t understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior.

Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly, but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you.1

This doesn’t mean that you can hold on to this like a trump card and play it every chance you get. “Remember that time when … ?” That goes totally against Jesus’ point of “seventy times seven.” Just remember, God has forgiven you more times than you will ever have the opportunity to forgive someone else.

In my case, I understand that even today I am still rebuilding the trust that was lost due to my lack of honesty. But, I also know that Anne has truly forgiven me. It wasn’t easy for her, but I am thankful that she has taken God’s Word to heart by forgiving me in this … and all the other stupid things I do every day that require forgiveness.

Today’s article was written by Matthew J. White and is shared from the following website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/gods-design-for-marriage/does-your-spouse-see-jesus-in-you/forgiving-when-its-not-easy


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The Power of Forgiveness…

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass George Herbert

Zak Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1983 to an American mother and an Egyptian father, El Sayyid Nosair. When Zak was seven, his father assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-Orthodox, anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League. While in prison, Nosair was found guilty in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial which killed six people and injured over 1,000 others. He was later convicted as one of the conspirators. Zak’s memoir The Terrorist’s Son charts his own personal journey from hatred to healing.

I remember my early childhood as a happy one although around the age of seven my father exposed me to a side of Islam  that few people  get to see.  In every religion, in every population,  you’ll find a small percentage of people  who hold such fervently beliefs  that they feel they must use any means necessary  to make others live as they do.

A few months prior to his arrest, my father sat me down and explained that  for the past few weekends, he and some friends  had been going to a shooting range on Long Island  for target practice. He told me I’d be going with him the next morning.  We arrived at Calverton Shooting Range,  and when I hit the target my uncle turned to the other men,  and in Arabic said, “Ibn abuh.” [Like father, like son].  Later I realized that they thought they saw in me the same destruction  my father was capable of.  These men were eventually convicted  of placing a van filled with 1,500 pounds of explosives  into the sub-level parking lot of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. These were the men I looked up to, whom I called ammu, which means uncle.

By the time I turned 19  I had already moved 20 times in my life  and that instability meant I found it hard to make friends. I kept my identity a secret  to avoid being targeted,  but even so, being the quiet, chubby new kid in class  was more than enough to get me repeatedly bullied. So for the most part, I spent my time at home.

Growing up around bigotry meant  I’d been raised to judge people  according to their race or religion. One of the first things  that challenged this way of thinking was during the 2000 presidential elections when I was taking part  in the National Youth Convention (a non-partisan organization) in Philadelphia.  Having been the victim of bullying for most of my life I chose to be part of a group that focused on youth violence. The members of our group came from many different walks of life and I soon discovered that one of the kids I’d befriended  was Jewish. I must admit I felt a sense of pride  in having been able to overcome a barrier  that for most of my life I had been led to believe  was insurmountable.

Another major turning point came when I found a summer job in  an amusement park. Most of my life I’d been taught  that homosexuality was a sin and by extension, therefore,  that all gay people were a negative influence.  When I ended up working with some of the gay performers  at a show there,  I soon discovered that many were the kindest,  least judgmental people I had ever met.  Having been bullied as a kid  created an immediate sense of empathy in me  toward the suffering of others.

Then there was, The Daily Show.  On a nightly basis, Jon Stewart forced me  to be intellectually honest with myself about my own bigotry  and helped me to realize that people’s race,  religion or sexual orientation  had nothing to do with the quality of their character.  Inspiration can often come from an unexpected place, and a Jewish comedian did more  to positively influence my worldview  than my own extremist father.

One day, I had a conversation with my mother  about how my worldview was starting to change  and she said something to me that I will hold dear to my heart  for as long as I live.  She looked at me with the weary eyes  of someone who had experienced  enough dogmatism to last a lifetime and said, ”I’m tired of hating people.”  In that instant, I realized how much negative energy  it takes to hold hatred inside of you.

Zak Ebrahim is not my real name.  I changed it when my family decided  to end our connection with my father  and start a new life.  But I speak out in the hope that perhaps someone someday  who is compelled to use violence  may hear my story and realize that there is a better way,  that although I was subjected  to a violent and intolerant ideology, I did not become fanaticized.  No matter how much the levels of violence you have experienced it doesn’t have to define your character because in all of us is the ability to change our paths.

Today’s story was written by Zak Ebrahim and is shared from the following website: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/zak-ebrahim-usa/

 

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A Hero…Is Someone Who Makes a Difference

A Hero is someone who has given his or her life to Something bigger than Oneself Joseph Campbell

The Power of Forgiveness

On June 8, 1972, during the Vietnam war, South Vietnamese forces dropped a napalm bomb onto the town of Trang Bang in North Vietnam. Photographer Nick Ut was there at the scene. He took a photo of a little girl, running away from her home village naked with a look of horror and pain on her face. Her clothes had been burned off. The photo became famous and won the Pulitzer Prize. The picture was a wake-up call to many about the horrifying reality of war and the damage done by the war in Vietnam.

The girl in the photo was Phan Thi Kim Phúc and she was 9 years old. She survived the incident, but with severe burn scars all over her body. The doctors doubted she would survive. Kim, only a little child, had to stay at the hospital for 14 months, going through many operations, and then had to go through years of therapy. But she survived, and eventually moved back to her home village to live a normal life with her family.

While at college, she met a man with severe burn scars on his arm from having rescued someone from a burning building. A girl she knew made a comment on his scars, saying that nobody would want to date someone with such ugly scars. Kim thought about how her scars were much worse. This caused her great emotional turmoil – she couldn’t bring herself to eat, sleep or study for 3 days. Eventually, through prayer and self-talk, she managed to pull herself together again. However, she didn’t think she would ever find a boyfriend or a husband. But she did find a boyfriend, whom she eventually married and had her 2 sons with. Her husband says that if anything, the scars make him love her more.

Kim admits she felt bitterness and hate over the incident, which left her with chronic physical pain. She often wondered why it had to happen to her. But she soon realized that she needed to overcome these negative emotions to find peace. She needed to forgive, so she could move on for good. After she had forgiven those that were responsible for the event, she felt at peace.

On Veteran’s day, 1996, Vietnam war veterans gathered to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. Kim was also there. She gave a speech about the attack she survived. She talked about how she no longer felt anger towards those responsible, as she had found the strength to forgive them. Suddenly, John Plummer, the pilot who was in the plane that dropped the bomb, stood up and started moving towards Kim. He shouted to her that he was responsible and that he was sorry. Kim came down from the stage and hugged him, and told him he was forgiven.

Kim believed she survived what happened because of a higher purpose, and that the event was necessary to teach her a lesson about helping and forgiving others. In 1996 she founded the Kim Phuc Foundation, that helps other child victims of war. That same year she also became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She found joy in helping people, visiting other victims of war at hospitals and giving them hope. Her strength to forgive, positive attitude and tireless efforts to help others inspire everyone she meets.

Story shared from the following website: http://forinspiredlives.blogspot.com/2011/03/overcoming-tragedy-3-inspiring-stories.html

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