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Have you ever had a friend or family member get really mad at you, “forgive you” and then bring it up again and again? Or perhaps just periodically when another issue surfaces? Maybe you’ve done that yourself…
But is that really forgiveness?
I don’t think so… at least not true forgiveness. Even though there may be a reduction in emotional intensity, if it keeps surfacing with any kind of emotional charge—as ammunition, excuse or attachment, there is unfinished business to work on.
Most of us have heard that forgiveness is important for our own health and well being. It can’t be expressed more succinctly than by Edgar Cayce, as a Universal Law in one of his readings: “Forgiveness heals and empowers the one who forgives.”
So what is true forgiveness? Can you let go of whatever happened to you, almost as if it never happened? Can you forget it—not speak of it from this day forward? Now that’s not suppressing it—that is totally different. If you can really forgive to the point of forgetting, then that experience no longer colours your relationship with that person or with similar circumstances. You are no longer living from the past.
How do you do this? The first step is to release your attachment to being a victim. If you take ownership for your part in the experience, you step towards personal empowerment. After all, if you are a victim and it is someone else’s fault, you have disempowered yourself. If you understand that you either made the conscious choice to take the actions that involved you in some way, or that the experience was on your path for your soul’s evolution, you begin to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t, you could end up living a life of resentment, bitterness and blame.
The idea of forgiveness can be challenging especially with our most difficult experiences, yet often when we look back into our past, we can see how those events propelled us forward in strength, courage or compassion. Sometimes they are pivotal opportunities on our path… if we let them advance us instead of holding us back.
This is the teaching behind Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian exercise of forgiveness. You ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness to everyone in your life, and once you cut the cord that connects you to that memory, you are free to see without the limitations of any negative thoughts or emotions you may have experienced with that person in the past. Depending on the circumstances, it may take you many times of doing this exercise until you are completely clear, but when you are ready to let it go, you can feel a much deeper sense of peace within your being.
It is also important to remember that if someone wronged you, when you forgive them, it doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend. In fact, you don’t have to stay in contact with them at all. It is our own heart we want to clear from any anger, bitterness, sadness, fear, guilt or shame.
Think of the ancient Egyptian death ritual of weighing the heart against a feather on the scales of Ma’at… only if the heart was as light as that feather could the deceased proceed to the afterlife or their concept of heaven. Any emotional baggage would prevent the evolution of the soul.
Forgiveness is something that we need to adopt for our own peace of mind. Not only do you deserve it, but you will be amazed at the difference it can make in your life. Sometimes we need help to get there, but that is OK. We just need to truly be willing to let it go.