One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela who said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” It’s so true isn’t it? The only one that suffers from not forgiving is us.
When we let go of anger that enraptures us about something in our past, it is truly liberating. It makes more room in our hearts to love without fear and makes room for creativity and compassion (for ourselves and others).
Here are powerful lessons in forgiveness:
- Start with yourself – “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee. Many times anger toward another is just a cover up. A way of protecting our own ego from the truth – that we’re really angry with ourselves. Everyone makes mistakes and we need to forgive ourselves for our wrongdoings. Forgive yourself so you can forgive others.
- Realize that it takes patience and strength – “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi. Often times we make forgiveness a mental exercise, but when it comes down to it, we still hold resentment. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing the exercises for forgiveness. Realize that no one is perfect and the more you can forgive, the more you will heal your body, mind and soul.
- Write a letter – This is not a letter that will be sent to the other. This is for you to get out all of your frustrations and express how you truly feel about the situation. Sometimes we need to just lay everything out on the table and express how we feel to be able to move past it. Write down everything you always wanted to say, then, let it go. You can do this by burning the piece of paper in a fire or by cutting it up into little pieces and throwing it away. But the key is letting go.
- Be above it – “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain. When you move past a grudge have been holding on for some time, there is a degree of lightness and power that springs forth. Nothing feels better.
- Practice understanding – “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” – Bryant H. McGill. Love is the highest elevation of understanding. When you understand something in it’s entirety, you can truly love it (or them). If you want to love with all your heart – forgiveness is key.
- Know that good and evil exist within everyone – “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Everyone has both good and bad traits and qualities – including us. No one is better or worse, we are all just trying to do the best we can. Love everyone!
- Change your point of view – Go back in your mind to the time the incident(s) happened. Experience it as a person who is watching the entire plot like a movie. Now, see it from the other persons perspective – how were you acting and how did that bring about an action or reaction in the other? What things in the others past may have shaped the way they act or think? We all have a past. Though it’s not an excuse for bad behavior, it’s still a way to practice compassion and understanding.
- Forgive, but don’t forget – “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” – Thomas Szasz. Forgiveness is so important. But it doesn’t mean that particular person is ever going to change. It’s an inner practice that affects change in us, not the other. We can wish someone growth and evolution, but don’t count on it.
- Practice the Divine Mother principle – If you haven’t heard of Ammachi or Amma which means ‘mother’, she is also known as “the hugging saint”. Today, people travel from all over the world to experience her ever-loving hugs. No matter who you are, no matter your creed or color, or what you have done in the past, she gives you the most loving embrace. She is known to give hugs for 15-24 hour stretches non-stop to her thousands of devotees. She has hugged literally millions of people around the world. In an interview published in the New York Times by Jake Halpern, he recalls his experience with Amma: “I asked Amma how she maintained this pace. She smiled. Then she pinched my cheek and began to tickle me — the way a mother might tease a troublesome toddler — and said through an interpreter, “I am connected to the eternal energy source, so I am not like a battery that gets used up.”
Her message is to practice that divine mother principle in all of us (male or female), because it heals, transforms, and creates miracles.