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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Regrets, Resentments and the Path to Forgiveness - Stop Anger & Live Happy With Conscious Awareness

I recently received a letter that began "How glorious it must be to be truly happy inside!" and continued with a request for my thoughts on regrets, resentments and the path to forgiveness. The following is my reply.

I am not always happy inside; I actually got quite angry recently. Simply An Inspired Life is not a perfect life; it is a life of conscious awareness. Often people go through life in a sort of fog - unhappy, helpless to address the unhappiness, and unhappy about the helpless feeling. That is what the Simply An Inspired Life approach can address.

There are two steps, the first of the mind, the second of the heart.

Have a talk with your mind (it really is something separate from yourself). Lay down the law. "My life begins TODAY. I am like a newborn. I have what I have today; I have my fingers, my toes, some people in my life, some material and financial state. Yesterday is only a dream - perhaps a nightmare, perhaps a cherished memory, but only a dream - nothing more. I will make all decisions and actions based solely on what I have today as a starting point."

To put this in practical terms, think of owning stocks. I own a share of stock for which the NASDAQ bid price is $10; how much is my share of stock worth? $10 of course; and there is no special emotion associated with that statement. But if I added that I bought the stock yesterday for $5, it feels different; and if I bought that stock yesterday for $20, it feels very different. The stock is still worth $10, and it makes no difference what price I paid - that transaction is now in the dream of the past - not real - not important today.

Personalize your conversation with your mind and be clear that you just won't tolerate any thoughts or actions that are not based on today's facts.

Moving to your heart, Breathe. Close your eyes and breathe deeply - slowly - fill your lungs with love and gratitude - exhale each and every trouble - again and again - gratitude in, troubles out.

Speak to your self from your heart as you would to a newborn baby, "I love you because I love you. You are a part of me, and I need no reasons to love you. Whether you cry or you smile, I love you. When you spill your milk or burp, there is nothing to forgive, there is no fault. You are love, I am love, and we are love."

The following is the beginning of the forgiveness chapter from our upcoming book:

FORGIVENESS - For Self & All

I Forgive Myself with Compassion - I forgive everyone, especially myself, for all actions and all inactions throughout my entire life. I accept that no one else has ever been to blame for either my joy or my suffering. The entire cause of all my joys and all my sufferings is my own emotional response to the events of my life, and I am committed to consistently distinguishing between my feelings about events and the physical occurrence of those events. I declare that everyone who has ever played any role in any of the events of my life is entirely without fault.

Would you rather be right or happy?
- A Course in Miracles

don't take it personally - it's not usually about you. - mar

I forgive everyone for every "wrong" that I believe they have ever inflicted upon me. I forgive them for my own sake, that I may release the venom - the anger and resentment within myself - and regain my joy and serenity. I have compassion for everyone who has ever been a player upon the stage of my life. - jlh

I'm angry. They wronged me. They lied, they cheated; why should I forgive them?

Forgiveness is not a reprieve that we give to someone else. Forgiveness for another's act or omission is a gift that we give ourselves. We are the one who suffers the upset and the anger when we feel that we have been wronged. It is our own blood pressure that rises when we hold on to resentment.

Forgiving others is a gift to yourself, given not because they deserve pardon, but because you deserve the serenity and joy that comes from releasing resentment and anger, and from embracing universal forgiveness.

12 comments:

  1. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I have been wronged by the ones I loved all my life and I am not sure how to let go of the anger and to forgive them.

    This makes sense to me and I want to let go of the burden I have been carrying for so long..

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been abused sexually and beaten by my father all most evryday, I stood there while he beat my mother and my sister and brother, He even tried to molest my sister. Well he committed suicide a few years back and its very hard to forgive him for what he has done, but after reading this, I guess that I can try. It just hurt's I think about it all most everyday then get very upset.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was sexually violated by my stepfather many yers ago and it continued through my whole chidhood. The only reason it stopped is cause i ran away at age fourteen. How can I fofgive someone who said i was a liar. he did it to my 4 sisters and. i have no family cause they all turned on me for speaking up. I find myself very alone at times and I wonder "did I do the right thing"?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for your question. Life has been very hard on you. I wish it could have been otherwise.

    I will attempt to answer your question, "How can I forgive?" The short answer is that your act of forgiveness is for yourself, to enable you to stop suffering.

    To expand upon the nature and benefits of forgiveness, let's look first at what it means to forgive. The dictionary tells us that "to forgive" means "to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for something they did or failed to do." It does not mean that you believe what the person did was acceptable, or is acceptable, or ever could be acceptable. Forgiveness is about ending our anger. Anger is a destructive human emotion that rots our insides. It causes much of the physical illness in the world as well as untold emotional suffering. Freeing yourself from as much anger as you are holding is like taking a three hundred pound weight off your chest and six daggers out of your ribs.

    The better question might be, "How can you NOT forgive?" Forgiveness - forgiveness of all people and all acts - is a sure path to happiness.

    So what can you do today to end the resentment and anger, and create forgiveness and happiness? Carrying around three hundred pounds of anger is a little like carrying around three hundred pounds of excess weight. It took years to grow that much anger, and it will take time to shed the anger. Today, hold the intention to be one percent less angry than yesterday. Do the same thing tomorrow. If you can stick to that emotional diet, you will have lost all your anger and resentment in three or four months. I'm rooting for you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Something I repeat to myself on a daily basis:
    Shame on you for doing this to me...Shame on me for allowing you to continue to do this to me by seething with anger and resentment. I am free, no more hatred!!! Hatred is like acid...it does more damage to what it's stored in, rather than what it's poured on. ( I do not remember who's quote that is.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel that forgiveness is a very difficult thing to do. But I remind myself that I am the only one who suffers from holding on to my pain and anger, while the perpetrator lives their life without concern. Thank you again for posting this. It also reminds me of the following quote:

    "Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin,...but.......it is a loss......that liberates the victim."

    -Desmond Tutu, Anglican archbishop of JOhannesburg, and Noble laureate

    ReplyDelete
  7. I WAS MOLESTED @ THE AGE OF 5. I NEVER FORGOT THAT OR THE PERSON. I WAS AFRAID TO TRUST PEOPLE. I WAS SCARED TO GO OUT AND DO THINGS. IT MAKES ME MAD AS HELL TO SEE HIM EVERY DAY. LIVING LIFE AS IF HE HAS NEVER RUINED LIVES. I HAVE PAID FOR WHAT WAS DONE TO ME OVER AND OVER AGAIN.WHY DO I HAVE TO SUFFER FOR HIS ILL ACTIONS. I LOST MY CHILDHOOD BEING AFRAID THAT EVERY ONE WAS LIKE HIM. I WILL NEVER GET BACK THAT TIME IN MY LIFE. I TRIED TO FORGIVE BUT IT STILL MAKES ME SICK EVERY TIME I SEE HIM STILL LIVING AND BREATHING THE SAME AIR ... FORGIVENESS IS A LOT EASIER SAID THAN DONE.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Patricia... Forgiveness is NOT easy, but it is the only to regain your happiness. It is for you, so you can become healthy and happy. It is for your own benefit, not for his benefit.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I had asked my sister-in-law to stop swearing in front of my grandkids on "Facebook". She got angry and managed to turn the whole family against me and my husband too, its his sister. We used to get together at every holiday. Now they have stopped talking to us. What can I do? Sure fine, forgive them, but she also said alot of hateful lies about me to me and to them. How do I fix this? They act like they are going to hold a grudge the rest of their lives. It's almost Xmas and because of this my husband and I are alone. I have to keep all my opinions to myself from now on. I forgive myself. but how do i get them to forgive me?

    ReplyDelete
  10. We have essentially no control over what anyone else thinks, does, or says.

    Your extended family may eventually come around, or they may not, but for now you have yourselves as your source of happiness.

    Give thanks that you and your husband have the values you have, and give thanks you have each other.

    Consider reaching out to share the season with others this year - other friends or perhaps those less fortunate than yourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Forgiving is great for yourself, to release tension and unhappiness. Although, having said that, forgiving is a very hard task, especially, when one had suffered a great and terrible trauma. Anger burns for many years, and letting go is not easy as it seems to others watching from the outside. Even in councilling and seeing doctors sometimes help, but not always. Prayer and indulging in positive things are 2 great ways to ease the pain, even if for a while. Find peace within yourself, it is there, we have to find it, or pain and suffering will harm us more.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Forgiveness is not a reprieve that we give to someone else. Forgiveness for another's act or omission is a gift that we give ourselves. We are the one who suffers the upset and the anger when we feel that we have been wronged. It is our own blood pressure that rises when we hold on to resentment.

    Forgiving others is a gift to yourself, given not because they deserve pardon, but because you deserve the serenity and joy that comes from releasing resentment and anger, and from embracing universal forgiveness."

    This seems to be the earliest variation of your viral quote: Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.

    Thank you very much for your continued strive for happiness in others.

    ReplyDelete

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