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Making the Choice to Forgive Yourself and Others

All too often I have come across people who have said they cannot forgive, won't forgive, find it too
hard to forgive, don't believe they should forgive etc...

Then I ask why...

Why don't these people want to forgive? Why do they wish to stay enmeshed within the shackles
that have been attached to them because they will not forgive? Why do people continue to burden
themselves with unnecessary stress that they can liberate themselves from and live more freely both
emotionally and physically?

Forgiving of oneself is not a sign of weakness but a sign of courage and strength. It is the ability to
understand that the situation that they have remained attached to no longer serves its purpose, to
allow themselves to become a more highly awakened individual. It is the recognition that everyone
makes mistakes – no matter how big or small – and as such learns from them.

As has been quoted so many times before... “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

Forgiveness is a choice actively made to free the mind, the heart and body. It is a release of negative
emotions that tie us down and makes each thing that we do an effort. It is knowing that we do not
need to continue to punish ourselves for what we have done in the past or in the present.

We are learning...

Continually berating yourself for an incident that happened some years ago does not help you... it
hinders you. We all do the very best that we can at any point in time with what choices we make in
regards the situations at hand.

Being angry doesn't prove anything... it doesn't stop the pain... it doesn't stop the yearning... it
doesn't stop the story being played over and over in our heads. Anger stops us from feeling love. It
stops us from feeling that we matter... we lose touch with everything that at some point we held
precious in our hearts. We become bitter and tormented in an ever cycling merry-go-round of
negative emotions.

What's done is done... you cannot go back and change it...

To forgive means that we have made the choice to go forward. It does not mean that we will forget
or condone what has been done. We are forgiving the person – not the action.

I come from a family of abuse. I watched my father come home in a drunken stupor many times and
hurt my mother. I resented him for this and in the end I stood up for my mother as I felt she was
incapable of doing it. This also caused me to resent my mother for being weak. But looking back on
it many years later I came to a point where the only way I could release this bitterness and anger
towards my mother and father was by forgiving them. Which also meant I had to forgive myself.

They were both playing out their own play which involved my sister and I. They were trapped
within this play as they could never make the choice to change it. My mother did eventually make a
choice many years after I had asked her... no begged her to leave my father and take us all
somewhere safe. At the time that I had made this request my mother had made all sorts of excuses
of why she couldn't leave. But in the end, many years later when both my sister and I were
independent and living our own lives she did make the choice to leave.
The choice had been made and the lesson would now be changed into something new. They would
both – my mother and father – learn to see a new world for themselves. I am not sure if they ever
forgave but they did eventually get back together although it was mainly for economic reasons and
not for emotional reasons.

I was well away from the situation by then but still had a lot of resentment towards them. Although
I never outwardly showed it I am sure they would have known. My ego was running like wildfire
telling me all the reasons of why I shouldn't never forgive them. I did not know at the time that I
was also punishing myself by doing this. I was keeping myself tied to a situation that had happened
many years before and not letting it go.

As such I was going into other situations blinded by my anger and resentment. I made many choices
that were poorly judged but at the time I saw them as being right. I did not know or understand that
I was closing myself off from so many opportunities of real love, affection, appreciation and
respect. I had made myself hard and cold. I vowed that I would never allow myself to be vulnerable
so that I could be abused like my mother had been. Instead I had built a cage around myself that
would be my own prison.

To break free of this prison meant I had to forgive myself and any other person that I felt had hurt
me in some way, shape or form.

Forgiveness needs to come from the mind and body. It is not much saying you forgive and not really
feel it or mean it! Forgiveness also allows us to view any situation in a non-negative way and see
the lesson that was contained within it. It allows us to 'step outside the box' and look at it from all
the available angles. It allows us to feel free and not put undue pressure on ourselves anymore.

It is not always easy to forgive. It can be one of the hardest things for a person to do especially if
they have held onto an outmoded idea for a long time. When this happens the person does not know
how to look at themselves in a way that they would look at a dear friend or a much loved pet. They
feel unworthy of such things.

There are so many benefits to allow yourself to forgive. If you have health issues such as high blood
pressure, high blood pressure, aches and pains n the body especially the head, shoulders and back,
disturbed sleep patterns; they can all be related back to anger due to high stress levels brought on by
not forgiving a situation that is held in your past.

Would you physically whip yourself every time you made a mistake or felt that you didn't deserve
forgiveness? I think not and yet this is what you are doing by not forgiving... you are suffering, your
body is suffering, and other people around you do not get to see the light that is inside you.

Forgiveness sets you free... it leaves the past in the past and allows you to go into a future full of
opportunities that you would have otherwise missed.

Forgiveness can be done in many forms and it doesn't have to follow any set rule. It is doing what is
right by you. You can write a letter but never posting it... instead you can use it in a ritual where you
can burn the letter and release it to the Universe.

You can pray for forgiveness of yourself and others. You can pray to God, Great Spirit, the Divine
Power etc. The Serenity Prayer is good for facilitating the forgiveness of ourselves and/or others. It
can be put somewhere where you will see it everyday, chanted daily or whatever form you wish to
use it in...
“God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

In regards to prayer there are many spiritual teachings that view forgiveness as a necessity of human
life. In Christian beliefs forgiveness is an obligation and needs to be repeated regularly. Buddhism
views forgiveness as an important action to prevent emotions that can be harmful from causing
mental disturbance. In Islam, forgiveness is viewed as a combination of Allah's grace and the
believer's good deeds. In Judaism, forgiveness is required if someone is sincere in their apologies
for their transgressions. And in Hinduism forgiveness is viewed as personal strength.

Keeping a journal helps you sort out the 'junk' inside the head and allows you to put it in an
organised way so that it can be analysed and put into perspective. It helps you gain clarity and see
things from another angle.

Using affirmations regularly helps. The use of affirmations helps the mind let go of the painful and
damaging self-talk and gives you something more positive to focus on. It assists in helping you step
away from the negative and into the positive. It takes practice and can be very difficult to begin
with but in the end it is well worth it as you are re-training your way of thinking.

One very important step when it comes to forgiving yourself is to take care of yourself. Love
yourself like you would love another. You are worthy of it. In doing this it means getting the right
amount of rest and eating the right foods. It is giving yourself the respect that you deserve but have
denied yourself. Allow yourself to feel love and be loved both from yourself and others...

Believe me you are worth it... and in the end you will feel like a weight has been
taken away, you will begin to look younger and enjoy the beauty life has to offer
you and you will find the happiness that you so richly deserve!

© Tania Collier October 2008

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