Have you ever met a person who shares a story with you about what they should have done, might have done, or could have done? Who shares with you, if only I had acquired a different job, been involved in a different relationship, lived in a different community, had a different degree, I would be happy? It is common knowledge that many people wake up every day using yesterday as an excuse to justify why they are miserable today.
Forgiveness is a powerful gift that releases us from the bondage of past failures, hurts and disappointments. I cannot change yesterday, but I can make the choice whether to learn, grow and move on from past mistakes and misfortunes, or allow them to control my emotional well being today and attitude in the future. The need for forgiveness in our lives is directly proportional to the degree of which we have failed, been hurt, or victimized. The more we experience these destructive encounters the greater degree of forgiveness is needed to mend the damage done.
Forgiveness of self is the first assignment for all of us. We have all failed but our failures teach us what we are capable of achieving. I personally believe a significant measure of a person is their ability to persevere through the disastrous times they experience. It should be a goal for all of us to continue to look forward, and not use past failures as present day excuses for being unhappy and unfulfilled.
Second, if you have ever attended a place of worship, many times a message that is heard revolves around forgiving others who have hurt us. My question for all of you is what does forgiving others have anything to do with others? The answer is absolutely nothing. Whether the hurtful person accepts your forgiveness or not becomes their responsibility. Think about this just for a brief moment. People who have hurt us, what are they doing with their lives? They are moving on in a constructive or destructive way, but are they thinking of you? If they were thinking of you, wouldn’t they want to mend the relationship, heal the hurts, and make amends from days gone by? If we conclude they could care less about us, why would we allow them to emotionally live “rent free in our brain”? Evict them out of your head. We never forget the hurts, but if we do not forgive those who have hurt us, we allow them to have control of our emotional well being. The reason you forgive another person has nothing to do with the other person; it has everything to do with you.
Forgiveness of environment is the third component to becoming free from the burden of baggage. It is a choice whether we allow the world, the weather, the war, the government, and the many other media driven disappointments to structure how we feel towards others and ourselves. I cannot change many of the negative occurrences I witness and hear about everyday, but I can change how I react to it. I can forgive the situation, and not allow it to negatively impact my desire to be positive, optimistic or continue to make a significant difference in the lives of others.
The wonderful freedom we experience from forgiveness is to understand the less baggage we carry the lighter the load. As a result we experience greater freedom to enjoy life, to be less burdened, to be more joyous, giving, respectful and selfless. Be free, and enjoy the exhilaration of rescuing your emotional control from the grasps of the experiences and people who have taken it from you. Forgiveness will provide you a renewed outlook on life, a resurgence of positive energy, and a greater foundation of self-respect.