Forgiveness is letting go of angry and resentful thoughts and feelings. It is a key element of happiness, because if you continue to think about the “wrong” somebody did you, you are fuelling unhappy emotions.
When somebody hurts you badly, it can be extremely difficult to let go of your anger towards them and forgive. A lot of the time it’s difficult because you actually don’t want to forgive them - you don't think they deserve it! In order to protect yourself, you hold onto your anger. This is all very understandable, but regrettable too, as in harbouring these feelings, the person you’re hurting most is yourself. In hanging onto these feelings you’re affecting your own energy, and not to your benefit. Forgive, if not for the sake of the person “who done you wrong”, then for your own sake.
Every action that anybody takes is, at its unconscious root, motivated either by love or fear. When somebody treats you badly, the unconscious reason for that was their own fear. Bear this in mind, and it may help you to feel compassion rather than anger, or at least to let go of your resentment.
Forgiveness does not have to mean you pick up the pieces of your broken relationship with the person you feel betrayed or let you down. You can let go of the friendship if that’s what feels right, but the essential thing is that you do let go of your feelings of anger, betrayal and resentment. It can take time to get there, but if you resolve to move on for your own sake it becomes easier to let go of the angry thoughts when they do come to the fore.
It is just as critical to your health and well-being to forgive yourself for past mistakes, as it is to forgive others. In fact, learning to forgive yourself will increase your sense of compassion towards others and make the act of forgiveness easier whenever the need arises.
When it comes to self-forgiveness, ask yourself what good do you do yourself, or anybody else, by beating yourself up? It will not help you to move forward. In fact, it will stunt your ability to grow from whatever "mistake" you made.
Growth is about accepting what happened, identifying what you can learn from it and how you can do better in the future, then letting it go. and in order to be happy in the present, you need to stop focussing on the past. It's over and done with, you cannot change that. If there's a way you can make things somewhat better, then do so. Then decide to do better in future and move on.
Treat yourself with the same compassion you need to treat others in order to forgive them. Understand that you acted from a place of fear, and set the intention to go forwards living, as much as possible, from a place of love.
Letting go of Fear
Easier said than done, I know, but fear is a giant stumbling block to your personal happiness. Strictly the domain of the ego (your Spirit knows only Love), fear is an emotion that arises to protect us, but in doing so it often limits us.
Fear is the opposite of love, and in the coaching world it's used as an acronym for False Events Appearing Real. When you feel fear rise up inside you, ask yourself if that could possibly be the case. Because sometimes fear is associated with a very real threat and serves us well. But most of the time, our fear is around the anticipation of some uncomfortable outcome that may or may not actually arise.
And what's more, fear - like love - is a powerful energy, and we attract into our lives those things we love and fear the most, because those are the areas where we focus most of our attention.
To live your very best life, you need to learn to let go of fear. Otherwise you will not push yourself to do that which scares you. And it's fine not to do something because you don't want to. But to not do something because you're scared is a shame.
I know it's not easy. For most of my life I was a coward and would avoid anything that meant overcoming a fear, be that for my physical, pyschological or emotional safety. Eventhough I longed to do more, I would sit on the sidelines and watch rather than take risks. But over the last decade I've slowly pushed myself, stretching my comfort zone a little at a time. When I look back now I can hardly believe what I'm willing to do compared to how I used to be.
It starts with the decision: I'm not going to let fear hold me back. To borrow Susan Jeffer's term, to live your very best life, you need to feel the fear and do it anyway. And reading that book would actually be a very good starting point ;-)
Freedom is a sense of being, rather than a reflection of your life situation. You don't have to be footloose and fancy-free to feel free. It's about choice, or to be more accurate, feeling as though what you do in life is a choice.
And in fact, you always have a choice. You may not be able to control every situation in your life, but you always have a choice about how you respond to anything that occurs. And therein lies your freedom.
When you recognise this freedom to choose your response, you will find yourself more accepting of what is. You won't need to struggle with life, because you know that even if things aren't how you wish they are right now, you can choose how to view it, and how to deal with it. You can choose to look for lessons instead of feeling sorry for yourself. You can choose to find a way to use your situation to help others deal with similar circumstances. You can choose to remember that everything is temporary and this too will pass.
You can choose to feel free (and you can choose to be happy!)
But of course! You're allowed to have fun. In fact, many of the most enlightened souls on the planet are very light-hearted with it. So lighten up. Make a list of the things that make your heart sing and do at least one item on the list every day.