Learn to Forgive Others No Matter What

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 · 8 Comments

A little while ago I wrote a post around the importance of learning how to practice self-forgiveness. In that same vein it is essential to learn how to practice forgiveness no matter what. This may sound extreme, but let me explain. Forgiveness, as you may have heard or experienced, is simply the act of letting go of the burden that you carry from another person who has hurt you out of their own pain, ignorance or confusion. It’s a practice of freeing up your energy to focus on things that incline toward your own health and well-being or the health and well-being of others.

There’s a saying:

“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get hurt or die.”

The reality is holding onto resentment, literally keeps our cortisol running and makes us sick.

The wonderful thing about forgiveness is it really only takes one to tango. You only need one person to forgive – you! You don’t even need the offender.

Right now, if you have someone you’re holding a grudge against or are resenting, imagine the two of you tied together in a tug of war and imagine the cord being cut…you no longer have the tension of the rope, you are free!

Of course it’s not often this easy and it’s a practice to forgive, but what else is there to do? Hold onto the resentment so we continue to suffer? We’ve already been hurt, why continue to inflict further suffering on ourselves?

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

If you are open to letting go of the resentment-habit and opening up to a better future, play with the following short forgiveness practice from The Now Effect:

Allow this to be a choice point to practice forgiveness.

Think of someone who has hurt you or caused you pain (maybe not the person who has hurt you most) whom you are holding a grudge against right now. Visualize the time you had been hurt by this person and feel the pain you still carry. Hold tightly to your unwillingness to forgive. Now observe what emotion you are feeling. Is it anger, resentment, sadness? Also use your body as a barometer and notice physically what you feel. Are you tense anywhere or feeling heavy? Now bring awareness to your thoughts; are they hateful, spiteful thoughts?

Feel this burden that lives inside when you hold so tightly to past hurts. Now ask yourself, “Who is suffering? Have I carried this burden long enough? Am I willing to forgive?” If not, that is okay, perhaps the time will come when you’re ready.

If you are ready practice “Breathing in, I acknowledge the pain, breathing out, forgiving and releasing this burden from my heart and mind.”
Continue this as long as it is supportive to you.

Here’s a short video to guide you through the exercise in Forgiveness: 

Remind yourself that it takes courage to forgive and so allow this to be a part of your new story.

I would love to know your thoughts, stories and questions. Your interaction here creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

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This article was adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. 

8 Comments

  1. Andrea Lhotka
    August 31, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Greetings Friends!

    I really appreciate this article. I have held a very large grudge against some family members, stemming from events that occurred 7 years ago. For the last 5 years I have been on a path to forgiveness. I am fascinated by the process of forgiveness and have not found a better explanation than here for why one might want to forgive a person they feel has done them wrong. Indeed why to forgive is the question that has stumped me. After so much practice, meditation and articles like these I have learned that forgiveness has nothing to do with the “perpetrator”. It’s about taking care of me, holding my heart gently in my hands, letting go of the stories about the other person that I had created and realizing that how others behave is a comment on where they were/are in their journey, and much less about me.

    The articles leaves me with a sense of hope about a new story. I don’t know what it will be. The unknowing scares the crap out of me. A part of me is still afraid of getting hurt again. My only comfort is knowing that through this process I have made myself a better person, one that I can be proud of now. That is my redemption, finding my innate goodness.

  2. Joannr
    August 25, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Elisha,
    I have been following you and your mindful practice for a bout a year. I have made great progress and continue to heal. I have made peace with my past and try to live in the present each day. It is the only way I have found peace. I had spent a great deal of my life feeling hurt by family members. Forgiving is not the problem, it\’s knowing they will only do it again, again.
    I will continue to work at it and welcome any thoughts you may have.
    Most Grateful,
    Jo
    PS, please don\’t post this

  3. Teresa
    August 24, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I have been trying for the last four years to let go of the pain and sadness that my sister and the rest of the family have caused me. It is indeed a heavy weight that I have got to make go away. Thank you for your advice.

  4. Lisa
    August 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Yes I suffer from unspeakable behaviors of others and self. I do not understand how we are not all responsible for the growth of humanity. I believe we ought to care and look out for on another. This world mostly show us to be out for ourselves, very ego and $ orientated.
    I have not loved my Mother. She’s been dead 14 yrs. I still wrestle with my shame of that. I know that to be personally and socially generated. I have a hard time thinking I need to forgive myself for surviving with the handicap of mentally knowing I am too sensitive and responsible? While I may be overly sensitive to others, attempting to please so they wont judge or scream has helped me to submerge my emotions. My new idea..never used or thought of prior to this time:I must learn to embrace life by not fighting the Dis-comfort/fear and allowing some kind of balance of it with Joys I dont seem to feel satisfaction from or know what that means.. Until I solve my problem or have the victory of learning minimal dis-comfort I dont deserve the desert of Joy. All the things I love, seem addictive, yet dont satisfy. For years I waited to be the fine artist I am. Now I have the freedom, though I currently live in an abusive home and cant relax enough to be creative..also emotions frequently inspire art. No one wants to see that. Even I deny and submerge it to save their dis-comfort?? I am courageous to try new things in questionable situations, or is that daredeviling? Am I courageous enough to let me be ok as I am, when I have had 57 years of being told, in many ways that I’m unacceptable.

    I have enormous difficulty trusting anyone or thing because of this. why are we so ingrained with a sense of justice, judgement? It seems an overused yet outdated habit.I have noticed I have strived to be in an abusers “face” with the results of their abuse hoping they’d see the light. My responses have allowed the loss of my own self respect, pride and those who might show me how to enjoy their company and trust.

    Forgiving society’s vision of mother, job, school, advancement, money, health and human well fare, that I have tried to please, and the philosophy’s we are made to follow, to fit…and dont (authentically) is a new kind of chaotic forgiveness???
    One must be most creative, letting go of all one knows, blindly trying to play the ever changing game of life with the ever changing “how to”??? book.

    Yes I understand and know first hand, from her physical abuse to me, a physical abuser who has been sexually abused and attempts to exert power because she fears the truth. She has none and will always be vulnerable..humans have then skin and are human. It is difficult to believe all the abuse suffered is forgivable..What? I must forgive my sick society and myself that I have had part in it? I feel I may need to be convinced..

  5. Donna
    August 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Sorry but I am tired of this forgiveness word and action being so overrated!! First off many of us experienced childhood trauma before ages where we cannot even begin to hold onto the wrong that was done to us. We our being asked to forgive before there is even an acknowledgement of what occurred. And how many of us were dealing with a pedaphile and/or an anti-social personality disorder and/or a narcissistic personality disorder.
    I am done with trying to forgive others. Let me be with me first.

    Can’t writers find something else to write an article about?

    And my final statement is that forgiveness is an inside job after one understands what one has done. Really done. Now go do GOOD!!

    I will breath in the reality of what really happened. The cart before the horse.
    SEE and EMBRACE the TRUTH….

    • Elisha Goldstein
      August 29, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Absolutely Donna, the trauma needs to be processed in some way. Thank you for your wisdom. Warmly, ~ Elisha

  6. Anna
    August 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Elisha,
    I am very grateful for your web site and e-mail updates. Thank you for sharing your gifts!!
    Anna

  7. Judith
    April 22, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you, Elisha. I have a hard time with forgiveness, and your metaphors used in this post resonated with me. And I’ve read many posts on forgiveness.

    Many thanks,

    Judith

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