All of the wise people of the world state that you need to live in the present moment. It is where your power is. The present is the only place where you can make a change, take an action, have an effect. The present is the only time you can experience joy, pleasure, or any emotion.
Easier said than done.
Not only does the culture encourages you to “think about tomorrow” or “what will the world be like next year?” …
but you can also keep yourself entrenched in the past by focusing on regrets or hurts. It may be hard to let go of bad events that happened to you.
One important way to let them go and enjoy the present more is through forgiveness.
Think of people who have hurt you in the past. Focus on the feelings these people and/or situations bring up for you. How does that feel? Does this feed you or deplete you? Make you stronger or sap your energy?
Some people wrap their lives, decisions, and choices around past transgressions.
The bitter woman whose husband left.
The angry man who lost his savings to a schemer.
The fearful person who lost his job.
The wounded child who was abandoned.
There is no end to the possibilities of how people can hurt each other. And there is no end to the culture constantly reminding you how different and divided people are.
And to insinuating that others who are not like you are just out to get everything they can from you. To forgive is difficult if you swim in such turbulent, dark waters.
There are so many past offences that can take energy from you, depleting you of the joy of life and robbing you of the happiness of today. There are three ways to cope with these past wrongdoings, and each one gives you a way to re-write the past.
- You can suppress memories into non-conscious remembrance. Unfortunately, these unconscious memories and feelings will leak out in unexpected ways over time.
- You can try to forget the painful memories. But again, any number of circumstances can bring them – and the negative feelings – back into your awareness at any time.
- You can forgive.
All major religions promote forgiveness in one way or another. In some, if someone repents of their action and asks you to forgive them, you have to forgive them. In others, forgiveness comes voluntarily from the one harmed because it is the right and righteous thing to do. But what does forgiveness really mean?
In the common statement “forgive and forget”, those two actions are defined as different. And it’s vital to understand that forgiving does not include forgetting.
Before you can forget (if that is even possible), you need to forgive.
Forgiving others is an internal process where you re-write the event so that it does not hold the negative emotions it once did. In effect, you change the meaning of the event – at least for right now. In essence, you can turn on your inborn ability to forgive when you most need to do so.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the present and future. By forgiving, you don’t erase the crime but instead you are able to let go of the resentment, which is a punishment only to you. Resentment and anger eat at you inside and hurt you over and over again.
Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. Others benefit, also, but not as greatly as you do.
When have you practiced any form of forgiveness in your life and were better because of it?
Let us know in the comments how forgiveness might be helpful for you.