Growing up, I didn’t realize how much power I gave away to others. Each time I held a grudge, was judgmental or critical, I restricted my own energy and flow. What felt contradictory, was the fact that holding onto my anger felt energizing and made me feel strong. This is how the EGO and the hormonal rush we receive from an angry reaction deceives us into believing, our actions are right.
I have experienced a few family members, who have cut me off or ignored me because they felt offended by what I did or said. Growing up, I did what I was taught and followed suit. Throughout the years, I realized deep down, I didn’t feel happy, empowered or free. I began to question the beliefs and assumptions I held about other people and even myself.
I learned many of the stories we make up in our heads about other people’s motives aren’t even true. People have their beliefs and perceptions, it has nothing to do with you. This is their story and you have your story. You can’t change how someone views you and your actions, as they can’t change your views. All of these conflicts we have with others feels personal, yet they aren’t.
When I began to forgive, I released years of bitterness and pain. In its place, I gained a whole new sense of freedom I never knew. This sense of peace comes from being unaffected by what other people say, do and think of me. Before, I would react and rebel. Now, I feel, let go and move on with my life.
How I Really Began to Heal
Louise Hay often referred to forgiveness as a great healer. Her concepts revolve around self-love, affirmations and forgiveness to heal physical, mental, emotional or spiritual illness. You can learn more about this in her book called, You Can Heal Your Life. This book, inspired me to forgive my step-father.
My step-father and I had no contact for over ten years. I wrote him a letter and he chose not to respond. I summoned up the courage to face him one final time, at his wake. My sister and I saw his scowl was gone and replaced with a peaceful glow. I wouldn’t have believed this, unless I saw it. My thoughts turned to regret because I wished this was the man I could have spent time with. Letting go of what could never be, I read my forgiveness letter and walked out.
A crowd of supporters waited outside the funeral home and remarked how I glowed and looked as if a weight was taken off my shoulders. It was. In that moment, I was free from years of fear, hurt, anger, and resentment. All of the energies which kept me tied to him, were gone. Forgiveness supplies you with a healing balm in which you feel a sensation of lightness or as if you are floating on air.
Going Back to God
Recently, I was reminded of the gift of forgiveness through an online retreat, which connected me to my Catholic roots. I remembered if you pray with a repentant heart, God forgives you as soon as you ask. In other words, the Divine knows when you are being authentic or just going through the motions. Once again, I could practice forgiveness and unhook the chains that bind me. The trick is getting out of the EGO and back into your heart.
Who do you need to forgive today?
Start with Yourself. Forgive yourself for not knowing, being judgmental, for all the times you were stuck in your own pain, fear and bitterness. Forgive yourself for bullying yourself, pushing yourself way beyond your limits and all the times you were harsh and unkind to yourself. Forgive yourself for not seeing the truth or reality of a situation.
Next, forgive the first person who comes into your mind. This is the person you most need to forgive. They may not deserve your forgiveness, remember God’s grace has forgiven you. The more you forgive, the better you feel. Forgive others for their abusive behaviors, all of the times you felt disappointed and hurt.
Keep repeating this process as needed. Forgiveness is like doing the laundry or washing the dishes, it is never completed after one time. This is a practice which must be re-visited time and time again.
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net