The Pursuit of Excellence Practical steps toward happiness

27Feb/120

Forgive Yourself… Forgive Others

When I was 7, my mom took away my favourite Lego set as a punishment for something.  I was always getting in trouble, something I haven’t grown out of.  In the process, the toy fell to the ground and was smashed to bits.  It was the end of the world.

Lego GuitarI was so angry that I barricaded the door to my bedroom with clothes and stuffed animals, and went to work hatching a plan to get revenge: to break something of hers.

I woke up the next morning and saw my barricade.  I felt silly.  My tantrum hadn’t solved anything.  It was only a stupid toy, and I let go of the anger immediately.  Unconsciously, I forgave her.

Kids seem to have a knack for letting go, a talent we lose as we get older.  Don’t ask me why this is.

Forgiving others

All of us have been wronged in the past, and it will likely happen again.  As adults, we have to be mindful of how we respond if we want to avoid becoming bitter old scrooges.

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Why forgive?  Most obvious are the tangible benefits: lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and less risk of abusing alcohol and drugs.

More importantly anger, resentment, and desire for revenge keeps you stuck in the past.  Hanging onto these feelings hurt YOU most.  Withholding forgiveness actually gives the person that hurt you power over you.  Do you want that?  The best revenge, as they say, is living well, and in part that means moving on.

Negative emotions can be used as fuel to grow.  The period after a breakup, for example, is an incredible chance to become a better person.   Through forgiveness you can find greater peace.

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Arab and Jewish Boys

Forgive or Relive

Forgiving others is hard!  Depending on the offense, and the person that hurt you, it can seem impossible.  Forgiveness can’t be forced.  You can’t ‘will’ yourself to forgive or forget.

What you can do is have the courage to face the pain.  Mourning the loss or tending your wounds is a great start.

Recognizing that everyone is basically good at their core can help.  I’m convinced nobody hurts others because they’re evil, but out of ignorance.  This doesn’t mean I excuse the behaviour, or even forget about it.  I just let it go.

Forgiving Yourself

Many people carry around a lot of guilt.  But aside from pointing out when we’ve done something wrong, guilt is a useless emotion.

Hanging on to guilt prevents us from loving ourselves, which kills our chance at happiness, prevents us from loving others and reaching our potential, and keeps us stressed.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
– Paul Boese

Consider forgiving yourself.  You’re not perfect, and no matter how much you strive for excellence, you never will be.  Mistakes are inevitable.  Learn from them, then let go and move on.

Your future self will thank you.


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