Forgiveness can set you free! You can forgive yourself and you can forgive others.
We tend to be the worst judges of ourselves. Many people beat themselves up for their smallest mistakes. Many tend to be much harder on themselves than they are on others. But this can be painful. This is why forgiveness is one of the most powerful things we can ever do. It can feel like releasing ourselves from the binds of invisible ropes that have tied us to the past, restricting our happiness and fulfillment.
There’s a story that exemplifies this. There were two monks who were forbidden to have any contact with women. One day they approached a river that they had to cross. There was a woman standing by the side who also needed to cross, but she was scared of getting into the water in case the current carried her away. So one of the monks lifted the woman onto his back and waded across the water, set her down, smiled, and continued on his path on the other side. The other followed. But as the monks walked, the monk who didn’t touch the woman grew more and more irritated. A few hours passed and he was now fuming with anger. After a few more hours, he could no longer contain his anger. In an angry outburst, he scolded his friend for having broken his vow and making contact with the woman. Softly, his friend replied, ‘I carried the woman across the river hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?’
Many people carry hurts from the past – memories of regrets regarding their failures and behavior, and also pain concerning the misdemeanors of others. When we are carrying these hurts the goal can be to forgive – both ourselves and others. Another facet of forgiveness is that, sometimes, what we find difficult to accept or forgive in others is actually our internal judgement of ourselves. A person who has a problem with a selfish person, for instance, might be harbouring internal judgements regarding their own selfishness in the past or even in the present.
So in the path towards wholeness we also need to forgive our judgements. Many of us easily say we forgive but what we are forgiving is the information or the memory of what happened, but we still have a judgement of the event. In the path towards personal mastery we need to forgive our judgement of the event. Paradoxically, in the forgiving ourselves of the judgement we dissolve the judgement. We also need to let go of anger. Anger blocks our ability to forgive, distorting how we see things. As the saying goes, ‘Anger is like a burning coal, it only burns the hand that holds it’.
People come into our lives and we have a choice to see all relationships and interactions as an opportunity to grow. If, as a creator, you have accepted responsibility for your life, then each reactive emotion from this moment on can be embraced as an opportunity to learn another lesson, to show us where we have not yet mastered ourselves, leading us into corners of the psyche that we have not yet explored, but where lie great treasures. So a choice to forgive can be a declaration of personal freedom. It is not about excusing the behavior of others or letting people off the hook. It is about freeing yourself and moving forward. It is a choice. The gift is to you!