"Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light
of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth
about your self return to your memory."
.....Course in Miracles
It is a reality of life that you will occasionally experience pain, disappointment, upset, loss, and injury. Whether physical, emotional, spiritual, familial, or economic - someone, somewhere at some time will contribute to a negative experience that will affect you. Even angels have their traumas. The question then becomes, HOW LONG DO YOU PROLONG THIS NEGATIVITY BEFORE MOVING FORWARD?
Each moment you cling to this trauma after it occurs, you cause the past trauma to generate an entirely new sequence of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Until you can give up your attachment to the past incident, you are cursed to maintain and magnify the pain. This brings us to the heart of the saying, "To forget is human, to 'for give' is divine." I separate "forgive" into two words intentionally, because the divine gift you receive is "for giving" it - get it?
Why is this and how does it work? Is forgiveness in some way "giving in" to the forces of evil that have hurt you? Should you follow the eye-for-an-eye philosophy to even the score?
Let's consider the following: Many great works of religion and philosophy teach, "How can you expect God to forgive you if you refuse to forgive someone else?" Ouch! This seems to insinuate you have done something wrong in the eyes of God or whatever higher source or power you subscribe to. Have you ever done something wrong? Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally done something to another person that hurt or hindered them? Maybe you just neglected to do something you felt or others felt you should have. Recall a few of these now, particularly the ones that gnaw at you with guilt. Let's turn these guilty feelings into a growth awareness.
Consider an easier side of the equation. Recall a few times you felt you were wronged by others. Maybe you were victimized or taken advantage of, maybe you were lied to, injured, or had something dear to you damaged or stolen. Can you visualize a few of these?
Okay, now here's the hard part. As I mentioned earlier, we are all subject to the indisputable law of physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The reactions may occur through other parties, in different places, and may be observed at much later times, but the equalizing reaction will occur. Therefore, you should first realize that any negative reaction that you experienced was precipitated by actions you previously took. Your karma just caught up with you, that's all.
You may have a hard time accepting this, so I'll approach it from another viewpoint. You were damaged last week, last month or last year. The pain or loss occurred sometime BEFORE. It was the PAST. The event is over now, even though the consequence may continue. The effect this event had on you was painful and detrimental in some way. The question now is, "do you keep reliving this memory over and over again as if it just happened, so you can keep experiencing this negativity? Or do you find a way to release this negativity from having any further effect on your life (for giving it)? The sooner you release this negative incident, the sooner you begin the healing process, recover and build as needed. And there it is - forgiveness.
Completely Letting Go of Past Pain, Anger, and Grief
Forgiveness is completely letting go of the past, its pain, anger, and grief. Forgiveness is operating in the here and now - where this event is no longer occurring.
Forgiveness focuses you on the reality of what happens and asks you to accept it as karma to engender your evolution to a higher level. You need to learn from your bad karma and begin to understand how your actions helped bring this change to your world. If you hold onto it, seek revenge, or refuse to let go, you are ADDING your current strength and power to this negative memory. The negative memory then:
- adds more power to the already negative occurrence;
- continues its negative influence on you and everyone else connected to you;
- prevents new ideas and prosperity from emanating because your full attention is blocked; and
- brings on new conflicts and bad karma from these unforgiving ways.
This is probably why many divorcees take so many years to regain their footing or establish productive new relationships. They don't accept their responsibility in the breakup and refuse to forgive their former spouse or themselves.
This gives the wronged party an excuse to transmit their misery to those in their circle of friends and associates. The pain is now multiplied and the hardships litter their lives and cause more grief.
I recently met with a friend who had gone through an upsetting divorce. She was devastated because he had been her "true love" - and he left her. Like a car spinning out of control on the highway, she began smashing into every vehicle in her path. One by one, her friends and family became innocent bystanders caught in her emotional tornado. Her anger was transferred to the people she loved and cared for - people who had played no part in her marital breakup. This brought her more grief and eventually illness. It wasn't long before she was in the hospital with pneumonia, followed by her father, and then her mother, with a similar illness. She cast aside the new man in her life who offered her love, understanding, and the fulfillment of her lifelong dreams. Any time someone encouraged her to go back to using the meditation and therapy techniques she was well-versed in, she shrugged off their suggestions and kept her arms firmly crossed to keep the pain in - like a vacuum, to suck in more.
Perhaps you recognize yourself in the above scenario, or maybe it reminds you of some friends of yours. The more people internalize their pain and hold on to the misery, the more they create this enormous inflow of energy from everyone around them and suck in more and more misery. What was incredible was that when I finally was able to reach my friend and persuaded her to uncross her arms, to imagine herself sending thoughts of love and forgiveness, and to stop using excuses for not having the time to meditate, her entire life turned around.
I remember when I felt destroyed by the defamatory article about me in "MONEY" magazine. I lashed out not only at the publication but at everyone around me. I created a dozen or more new conflicts to deal with. My anger and refusal to forgive kept making matters worse. Every time I lashed back at someone, I gave them justification to come back at me. It wasn't until I took responsibility for these effects on my life and practiced forgiveness - not forgetfulness - that I began to heal. As long as you hold on to the anger, victimization, and pain, you will have this negative energy locked inside you making you ill - mentally, spiritually, and physically.
What Is Forgiveness?
It starts in your heart with understanding, a heaping measure of love, acceptance of the truth, the truth of the light of consciousness, God's grace - or whatever you wish to call it - and is followed by healing actions. Any ongoing conflicts, such as lawsuits, arguments, or refusals to communicate must be resolved.
Words of resolution should be communicated either in person (preferably), by phone, or with a nice letter. It must be heart-felt, not mechanical, not just an act of going through the motions.
Fake it until you make it - that's a start. It can lead to a transformational experience if repeated often enough, but the results will be slow until it is truly from your heart. The more you focus your attention on this healing, the faster your pain and the chaos you cause in everything around you, will dissipate.
How Perceptions Can Fool You
If you were holding a baby and it unexpectedly threw up on your new silk outfit, would you consider this an intentional act and forever be upset at the infant? Or should you take responsibility for playing too rowdily with the baby after a meal, or not being proactive by protecting your garment with a cloth. Imagine forever blaming the baby for ruining your suit and refusing it love for the rest of its life because of your anger. Pretty silly, huh? Imagine the baby hating you for the rest of your life and calling you a child abuser because you got upset and yelled at him because of this typical incident. Imagine someone being that mean to you. There you go, stupid and ridiculous, right? After all, it's just a baby.
Give everyone else that latitude and you'll go a long way to better health and success. Failing to forgive someone places a roadblock in your path. You turn their potential future support into inevitable opposition. Not a good thing. This is why we often hear the clichT, "Don't burn your bridges". The baby who throws up on you today could be the future spouse of your grandchild, the future governor, or a potential employer 25 years from now. Your failure to forgive causes you to lock horns and project your negative attachment into the future. It is certain that problems will come back to haunt you.
In such cases, you've locked yourself into a conflict that will work like a hidden magnet in the future to mysteriously attract you again to this person or conflict together. The moment you forgive, not only do you break the negative chain that blinds you, you convert this negative energy into positive energy. This energy will enhance the future lives of yourself and everyone around you.
I'll never forget receiving a lovely letter of support and caring from an attorney I had tried to get disbarred because of actions I considered unethical. I had been involved in an ugly 7-year-old court battle against her client who caused me great turmoil. I had to be right at any cost. All it took was a letter written by me forgiving her and requesting her forgiveness. The knot in my stomach of suspended life energy was released. It was a great feeling for both of us that allowed this conflict to be resolved.
Calling someone, or writing them to forgive and ask for forgiveness, is something that can be beneficial to all parties involved. Feel what it's like to be divine.
This article was excerpted with permission.
All Rights Reserved. ©1999.
When Life Becomes Overwhelming: How It Happened, Why It Continues and What You Can Do to Overcome It
by Brian Sheen.
When Life Becomes Overwhelming is the story of how the nightmarish floodgates opened one day, drowning a successful entrepreneur and family man in an ocean of financial insolvency, career destruction, divorce, drug abuse and depression. Simply sharing this story would allow readers to recognize the cause of this collapse to better protect themselves -- but this book doesn't stop there. This story details the self-discovery techniques I used to bring others and myself back to solid ground and rebuild our lives, without the same destructive behavior that caused the failure.
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About The Author
Brian Sheen is the author of several books and various audio and videotape series, including the best-selling book, Nest Egg Investing, a guide to personal, career and financial independence. Brian has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, in USA Today and on hundreds of radio, TV and media outlets throughout the United States. He is a minister in the Universal Brotherhood Movement, an Interfaith Ministry. He is a Reiki Master and is also available for private sessions, individualized meditation lessons, spiritual counseling and on site corporate training programs. For more information, check out his website at www.briansheen.com