“Forgiveness is letting go of the discordant thoughts that separate you from Source.”
– Abraham Hicks
I have a confession to make: I am a grudge-holder. Or perhaps I should say I used to be. Up until recently, I carried around a lot of resentment towards someone I love because of things they said and did that felt hurtful.
Because of this situation, I also carried around a lot of anger towards myself. I felt I should have responded differently. I felt I should have stood up for myself. I felt I should have been a stronger person.
But here’s what’s true: both of us were doing our best in the moment. We were (and still are) imperfect humans trying to navigate a difficult situation to the best of our ability.
This realization is what is helping me choose to forgive myself as well as the other person.
I use the word “choose” deliberately, because what I’ve learned is that forgiveness is a moment-to-moment choice:
- It’s the choice between clinging to the heavy energy of the past versus embracing the lightness of this present moment
- It’s the choice between thinking thoughts that are in alignment with your soul versus thoughts that are in alignment with your ego
- It’s the choice to take responsibility for your emotions versus blame your feelings on someone else.
One reason I was reluctant to forgive is because I associated it with condoning the other person’s behavior. But forgiveness isn’t saying that what someone else did was OK. Forgiveness is choosing to let go of the painful thoughts and emotions associated with the other person’s words or actions. It’s the realization that although our thoughts and feelings may be justified, clinging to them just holds us in a prison of the past.
A few years ago I was hanging out with a friend a few hours before her wedding. I clearly remember my words of advice to her: “just remember that love is a choice”. At that point in time I had already been with my partner for over 10 years and we had experienced our fair share of ups and downs. Over time I realized that when the honeymoon-feelings fade, love becomes a conscious choice and even a skill. If we want to live a soulful life, we have to develop the skill of deliberately choose loving thoughts towards ourselves and towards other people.
This doesn’t mean that we have to stay in a relationship that is painful. We can choose to love and forgive and simultaneously choose to let go. In some situations the most loving thing we can do is to go our separate ways. This is true for all types of relationships – friendships, intimate relationships and even family relationships as well. Sometimes distance is what’s required in order to be the most loving person we can be.
And what do we do when someone is holding a grudge against us?
When someone is being unforgiving towards us, we still have a choice. We can choose to agree with their thoughts or perceptions, in which case we will feel the same emotions they feel – regret, sadness, hurt, fear, guilt, blame, anger or resentment to name a few. Or we can choose to let ourselves off the hook and think differently. Again this doesn’t mean we condone our own mistakes or hurtful actions. It means we choose to think about the situation in a way that is loving and kind towards ourselves.
Here are a few thoughts from Louise Hay as an example:
• When I make a mistake, I realize that it is part of the learning process.
• Each day is a new opportunity. Yesterday is over and done. Today is the first day of my future.
• I know that old, negative patterns no longer limit me. I let them go with ease.
• I am forgiving, loving, gentle and kind, and I know that life loves me.
• As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to love others.
• I forgive myself for not being perfect. I am living the very best way I know how.
• Everyone in my life has something to teach me. We have a purpose in being together.
And here is one of my all-time favorite quotes from author Maya Angelou:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Oprah often shortens this quote to “When you know better… you do better.”
I believe this is true for most of us. We are doing the best we can. We are doing all we know how to do. And when we know better we will do better.
Being human isn’t always easy. Relationships aren’t always easy. But in this moment we have a choice. We can choose to stay stuck in the past, or we can choose to let go and move on. We can choose to think thoughts that feel angry and resentful, or we can choose to think thoughts that feel loving and kind. In this moment we have the freedom of choice because we have the ability to direct our mind.
Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive? What new thoughts can you choose to think about this person or the situation? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.
The oracle card featured in this post is from the Wild Offering deck by Tosha Silver.