“The past has no power over the present moment.”
— Eckhart Tolle
There is great value in every act of forgiveness. You can forgive yourself, you can forgive others, and you can forgive even when you don’t know exactly who to forgive, because forgiveness is not about who is to blame or who is at fault. It is about letting go, completely and permanently within yourself.
Forgiveness is recognizing the reality that what has happened has already happened, and that there’s no point in allowing it to dominate the rest of your life. Forgiveness refreshingly cleans the slate and enables you to step forward. Here are five unique ways to make this step possible:
1. Stop trying for a while.
If you’re trying hard and haplessly making zero progress, stop trying. Stop trying and start being.
When you see yourself as trying – to do something else or get somewhere else – you don’t interpret what you have and where you are as being good enough. This perception of constantly trying makes living seem like an endless struggle.
There is great value within you right here, right now. Allow it to come out, willingly and without a struggle. Instead of trying to get to some other point in your life, give your full attention to doing your very best with the life you are living now. Instead of believing that you are not there yet, be grateful that you are right where you are meant to be at this moment.
Yes, by all means set goals and take steps in the right direction, but don’t disregard the steps as you take them – these steps are your life’s story. Let go of all the needless trying and let yourself take these steps peacefully and mindfully. Let go of the judgments, forgive the past, and let this moment be as incredible as it is. (This is something Angel and I discuss in the Adversity and Happiness chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. Be the watcher of your thoughts and emotions.
In his best selling book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle tells us to be the watcher of our thoughts. What he suggests is that instead of trying to change our thoughts – via gratitude or deliberate forgiveness, for example – we need to simply notice our thoughts without getting caught up in them.
You are ultimately the sole creator of your own feelings. When negative thoughts arise based on past experiences or future worries, as they sometimes will, realize that these are simply issues your mind (not you) is working through. Pause, be present and pay close attention. Think about these thoughts and emotions consciously, almost as if you were a bystander looking in. Separate yourself from your mind’s thinking.
Perhaps after you study your thoughts and emotions you will think to yourself, “Wow, am I really still working through that?” And guess what? Over time, your negative feelings and emotions will lessen and genuine awareness, love and acceptance will grow in their place. You will begin to realize that your mind is just an instrument, and you are in control of your mind, not the other way around.
By not judging your thoughts or blaming them on anyone else, and merely watching them, there will be a big shift within you – your sense of self worth.
It’s not like you won’t get upset anymore or never feel anxious, but knowing that your thoughts and emotions are just fleeting feelings that are independent of YOU will help ease your tension and increase your positive presence, allowing you to forgive and let go.
Feeling sorry for yourself and sabotaging the present moment with resentful thoughts of the past won’t make anything better. Hurting someone else will never ease your own inner angst.
If you’re disappointed with yourself or frustrated with someone else, the answer is not to take it out on the world around you. Retribution, whether it’s focused on yourself or others, brings zero value into your life.
The way beyond the pain from the past is not with vengeance, mockery, bullying or retaliation, but with present love.
Forgive the past, forgive yourself, forgive others, and love the present moment for what it’s worth. There are plenty of beautiful things to love right now; you just have to want to see them. Loving is never easy, especially when times are tough, yet it is easily the most powerful and positively enduring action possible.
If you’re feeling pain, don’t take action that creates even more pain. Don’t try to cover darkness with darkness. Find the light. Act out of love. Do something that will enable you to move forward toward a more fulfilling reality. There is always something good you can do. There is always love to give. Fill your heart with it and act in everyone’s best interest, especially your own.
4. Seek positive revenge by living well.
Are you contemplating revenge? You know that’s negative thinking getting the best of you. However, there is a way to seek revenge positively.
How? Forget about them. Remember you. Working on a better you is more fulfilling than hanging on to contempt of others. Let it all go and hold on to your growth and kindness instead. If you train yourself to consistently be more loving in thoughts and actions, your positive energy will attract more positive results into your current reality.
Be unlike the person or situation that hurt you. Let go and grow past your pain. Carry on living well in a way that creates peace in your heart. The energy you would spend trying to get real revenge can be better spent creating an amazing future for yourself.
The bottom line is that the best revenge is happiness, because nothing drives your adversaries more insane than seeing a fresh smile on your face. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
5. Let go of the need to forgive every mistake.
Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom. Most of the time they just need to be accepted, not forgiven.
There is an obvious shift in your heart and mind that happens when you go from feeling hurt and upset to peaceful and loving, but it’s not necessarily forgiveness that’s taking place, it’s just the realization that there was nothing to forgive in the first place.
To help you wrap your head around this concept, try to look at your situation from 40,000 feet. Imagine a more seasoned, wiser and more compassionate version of yourself sitting at the mountaintop of life, looking down and watching as the younger minded, current version of you hacks your way through life.
You see yourself holding on to false beliefs and making epic errors of judgment as you maneuver through life’s many obstacles. You watch the children of the world growing up in challenging times that test their sense of self-confidence, yet they push forward bravely. You see the coming generation radiating with passion and love as they fail forward, learning through their mistakes.
And you have to wonder: Would this wiser version of yourself conclude that everyone in their own unique way was doing their very best. And if everyone is trying to do their best, what needs to be forgiven? Not being perfect?
Perfection doesn’t exist. Forgiveness is oftentimes the simple realization that there is nothing that actually needs to be forgiven.
Who would you like to forgive? What stressful burdens do you need to let go of and rise above? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Randy Heinitz
Make that almost 27 years. I had lost count.
Land sakes, what a community is at this blog. Hi @Pepper, glad the date has come and gone. Wishing you an encouraging recovery.
@Toni, I like this: “now I can finally stop trying to forgive what was really a lesson.” Perspective is everything.
Wow! Reading this was intense! I’ve been unable to forgive myself for the fact that I exist for a very long time now. What I see from reading this is that I should just accept myself and the fact that I exist. Then I wouldn’t have to try so hard to find selfworth. I would get it naturally, right?Sounds easy enough. I will give it a try, I dont even think it’s something I can consiously do. I mean how does a person make an effort to effortlessly accept themselves. How does one try to not try? I understand the concept if someone had a short term memory issue which had them with no choice but to live in the moment. However that would be frightening. Not knowing what the heck was going on, who you were, if you ate, when the last time you got sleep was… I don’t understand living in the moment. Noticed how optimism quickly turned. The concept really is something that I wish wasn’t logically impossible.
If someone out there knows some kind of way I can apply this to my life so I can get over myself and grow up, please lmk.
Wow “forgiveness” translated for me “release”. I realize now we are all worthy of forgiveness even myself. I need to forgive and love again, as though I have never been hurt. Until I am able to truly forgive, I realize I stay stuck in the muck. Thank you for this post today, it brings even more awareness for me.
What a gret read and something I needed to think about. I need to forgive someone and let go of the relationship. I also need to forgive myself for the mistake I made in betraying those I care about and love deeply. Thank you.
An excellent short film on the power of forgiveness is Romans 12:20 which can be viewed for free at geoffthompsonwriter.com The film is written by Geoff Thompson and it is based on the true story of him forgiving the man who sexually abused him when he was a child.
Mary Calvillo says
Marc Chernoff says
@Faiza: The key is in forgiving yourself. The one person you can control is YOU.
@Nick: Thanks. Welcome! =)
@joy: Spot on! I couldn’t agree more.
@Sandra Hamlett: Sounds like you’re in the right mindset. Good luck on the journey forward.
@Black Roses: It’s a difficult choice, but remember, “Johnny” is choosing too. It’s not all on you. You simply have to love yourself and practice your own mindful presence. If he doesn’t want to be a part of it, he chooses to have you move on.
@tara dillard: I love that book title. Thanks for the continued support.
@David Rapp: Agreed. It’s all about reminding yourself of the truth.
@Mike Martel: The Be-Do-Have triad is a process Angel and I live by,
@Mary Jane Allen: I haven’t read that one. Thanks for the insight and recommendation.
@Pepper: Stay strong. You are in our thoughts.
@Bernadette: Agreed. The Power of Now was a life changer. PS: Loved your guest submission. I’ll be emailing you soon.
@DW: Thanks for the continued love and support.
@All: Thank you for another inspired, insightful set of comments. You just gave me an idea for a new post. 😉 Time to write a few of the initial points down…
Hope you all are having a wonderful week.
Anil MN says
“Don’t try to cover darkness with darkness. Find the light. Act out of love” amazing thoughts, wonderful article. Thanks for Sharing!
Act of forgiveness is one of the best deeds, the moment we forgive someone, we feel lighter and relaxed. As the famous saying goes “A heart filled with anger has no room for love.” so lets forgive and share happiness.
With two ex husbands you would think I would be judgmental and angry, but no. I realized a long time ago that they are just being perfect in their imperfections, nothing to forgive. This article made me realize how grateful and happy I am. Thank you.
sumera masroor says
Well, after reading such an enlightening article; I realise that it’s a great trigger to help us “keep going”. Now I’m better to hadle the situation, I’m going through my life. Thanks a lot. These are the golden words. And they have made my goal achievable.
I needed this.
I’m the “other man” in an affair that lasted over a year and ended recently. She re-dedicated herself to her marriage, and has told me she still wants to be friends. It’s complicated, because I play keyboards in her husband’s band (I met her first). As far as I know, either he doesn’t know the affair happened or chooses not to acknowledge it.
I know that sounds horrible.
I’ve tried to figure out how to make a clean break from both of them without raising flags, but I’ve been so lonely and depressed, considering suicide and/or revenge.
Thank you for your article. It’s a much needed break from this torrent of dark thinking.
I started reading your articles and found they were so close to me, situations that I have faced and felt extremely depressed with. Thank you so much for showing right direction and giving me positive energy to face world and be what I am thanks
Thank you for this post. I have a lot to work at when it comes to forgiving. That is one thing which I have not been able to do for the past three years. – after reading this article I am able to understand that in order to carry on:
-I have to let go of my hurt n mistrust.
-I will try my level best to get out of it.
-I have to forgive my family members
Thank u for this post.
THANK YOU so much for this. I am so thankful for this article; this is the first time I came across your site and rest assured I will continue reading it. I have exerted so much energy into a relationship that has not given much back, full of dishonesty, lies and pain. Its been 3-4 years now and just recently in April 2013 I have finally taken the step to move forward, but have trouble understanding the “forgiving” part and learning to just live happily with a forward thinking perspective. I sometimes look back and think about it almost daily but talk myself back out of it. I just DON’T want to spend one more second thinking of it. How do I do that? So frustrating. Its a daily work in progress, I know.
Hannah Eagle says
I agree with Sandra Hamlett. There are things done that are unforgivable. I believe forgiveness happens as a result of taking some action. If a perpetrator does not apologize, forgiveness does not really happen. However, what is important is what I do with this unforgivable act. I can go on victimizing myself with this person or event or I can empower myself as Sandra has clearly done…”living a full and amazing life” in spite of what happened.
Also, I believe there is no such thing as mature adult “unconditional” love. We can have that with our pets, but if we are mature and individuated, we do have conditions. People do have to treat each other well and behave responsibly to feel loved and truly be loved.
Brett Vaughan says
Something learned over time is that the only person you can control is yourself. You can control how your respond to someone whose acts require forgiveness on their part, and you can control the world around you by how you react, but you cannot change or control another person. Why try to? In keeping with being true to yourself, you’ll find less reasons to need to apologize in the first place. Perhaps there’s nothing at all wrong with you in the first place.
I forgive those who hurt me because carrying around hate is just too heavy of a burden to carry. I won’t forget though. By remembering, I will make better decisions in the future. And you know what? It is really paying off! Being a better and happier me is the best revenge!
@Dave – you need to make that break from the band. Seeing him or her will not help your situation. Don’t worry about red flags – worry about your well being. Please focus on yourself. Seek a family member, clergy, or a friend that you can come clean to. Being able to speak to someone will help. Revenge is not the answer. I played many scenarios in my head for revenge, but 8 months later – I can hold my head high that I didn’t act. Moving forward and taking care of yourself is key. Time will help your wounds, although they will not fully heal until you commit to making your life better. You shouldn’t be the “other man”, you should be the “only man” in a woman’s life. It may seem impossible now but seek help. I turned to God, positive sites like this that speak openly and honestly, and confided in people I could trust. Do what works for you. Fresh start. Better tomorrow. I wish you the best.
The first part brings me to tears immediately. I have been working on some issues for quite some time. A lot of negative feelings rose during the period. Deep in my consciousness or unconsciousness I feel unworthy of love and acceptance. The text reminded me that it is an illusive prison that I was told to be in. There is nothing actually preventing me from being me, except for the past experience. I need to let go of all that garbage and of course there are a lot of values in me right here, right now. Thank you.
This girl who I thought was my friend turned out to be just a selfish coworker. She tried to get me in trouble just to save herself. So, now I don’t talk to her anymore. I do forgive her but I don’t need people like that in my life. I will go on stronger and happier. Thank you for inspiring me to make the best decision.
This article was/is great. I just recently started back therapy. And she said the same exact words that were here. Confirmation. I need to let go, and let God, and I am “working” on it. Although, “not really working on it”, sounds better. More like moving through it with a new perspective. It is so much easier to hold on to the things that hurt us and anger us. However, I don’t want to do that anymore. It hurts even more. So, yesterday was the beginning of my path to forgiveness. Forgiving myself, and the people who have truly hurt me. And I as forgive them, I pray for them to forgive me and my errors. This life is not easy, living it is hard sometimes (shoot most times), but with the right guidance (God) it can/will get easier.
Up until yesterday I thought forgiving someone literally meant letting them off the hook, but I now realize it’s only letting me off the hook. Letting me off the hook of resentment, and anger, and frustration, and hopelessness, and hurt. Who wants to be on that type of hook?? I don’t. Not anymore. It is so amazing how many ways God speaks to us, it brings a tear to my eye as I type because when we think He is not there, when we think He is just watching, He really has His hand right on our situation. This blog was verbatim what I talked about with my therapist yesterday. Wow. I’m rambling. Be blessed everyone! Forgive and let go!
This article brought me a bit of serenity. Thank you!
I need to forgive my ex-girlfriend. She cheated on me with an ex that she always held on it. And then she broke up with me because she admitted to not being able to end her relationship with him. It’s so difficult for me to accept the situation. I feel betrayed and very hurt.
However, I don’t like being angry. I don’t like my thoughts and emotions constantly revolving around the pain I feel. It seems to come down to a daily act of deciding to let go.
So here it is for today. I let it go. I accept the world as it is. I hope this anger and negativity is lifted.
This post made me look at the brighter side of things. Right now, it just dawned on me that the one I love will never love me back. It hurts– too much that I couldn’t help but feel so down and so ugly, so unworthy.
But then, I realized that this was meant to happen– for me to wake up and let go of this feelings that I’ve been holding on for so long. I have to move on, and not only that, I have to accept that there are things that cannot be, no matter how much we try to make it the way we want it to be.
The one I love may not be in love with me, but I know someday, I’m going to find somebody I love who will feel the same way about me. I know I just have to wait and have a little more faith. 🙂
I’d like to forgive a friend, who used me for attention when her marriage grew stale. I cut her out of my life, and I’ve been trying to forgive and move on ever since, but it’s been hard, especially since I do miss her friendship, and we share the same facebook friends (I’ve unfriended her, but she still pops up every now and then since she comments on friends’ status, photos, etc as well). this has been a struggle. I wonder sometimes if I should just bite the bullet, re-friend her, but keep her at a distance.
6 years ago, I drove a wedge between me and my fraternity brother whom I thought I hated. Deep down I really care for him deeply. We still to this day have not spoken, and have barely acknowledged each other’s presence when we are in the same room or place. Sometimes I feel very down about the situation, but if I ever hope to heal our relationship, I’m glad to be reminded that mistakes need to be accepted. If I’m still hung up on the past, then how can I hope that he will let go as well.
I’ve been searching for answers all over as to what to do…how do you forgive your spouse hurting you the very same way each time. I’ve been hanging on to this hurt this time around because I’m hurt to my core. I know in order to set myself free I must forgive and I just ask you all to pray for me and my husband and that he too will break free from his addiction.
This article is just a breath of fresh air for me…Thx
I have to say this article touched home on so many levels and I have to say thank you for taking the time and effort putting this great piece out there for everyone to read.
Over a year ago someone special left me and her parting words were “You think you are the best at what you do but you’re really not” Those words really cut deep and took a lot out of me. Needless to say I had the opportunity to make a choice after all what was said done and that was to 1)seclude myself or 2)surround myself with those who are a positive influence in my life. Of course the choice was a no brainer and needless to say surrounding myself with loved ones helped a great deal but the process of forgetting what was lost was still a difficult one.
I can say though just by exercising all the points you mentioned be it willfully or simply by accident I came to realize what my own self worth based on seeing the value I bring to those I hold dear to my heart. The journey made me realized more then anything that my heart or rather my ability to love is the culmination of the love and kindness bestowed onto me by my friends and family and I am all but obligated to protect my heart but more importantly share it throughout without fear.
Your last point “Would this wiser version of yourself conclude that everyone in their own unique way was doing their very best. And if everyone is trying to do their best, what needs to be forgiven? Not being perfect?”
Really helped bring a years worth of self reflecting into full circle. In that what I thought was a great lost was only another step towards reaching that kinder and wiser individual sitting at that high viewpoint.
Thank you again!
I cheated on my husband and I am truly sorry about it. My parents have both passed, and I couldn’t communicate my pain to him. He has since left me and won’t forgive this terrible thing I have done. I have apologized repeatedly. I am trying to forgive myself but having the hardest time. I did enjoy reading everyone’s comments here. I hope to heal further as time passes.
My heart goes out to you. I too cheated on my partner. I’m still trying to forgive myself 20+ years later. I still love him, which makes things even more difficult. And I can see the wonderful life he’s created with his wife in France. They have a blog and YouTube channel. I’m pleased for him even while I’m sobbing through the pain. I’m trying. I’ve stopped looking at his blog. I’m trying to be a better person. Please don’t be like me. Move on as swiftly as you can. It’s not easy to move on but I wish you well.
This is mind blowing! Thank you so much!
Sean D says
This along with some other websites are helping a lot. I have not been able to get past some things that have hindered my relationship with my girlfriend. We are at a boiling point and for the first time Ive been able to smile and I forgive you for everything. I have love for her and if I truly love her I must forgive and honestly I have forgiven myself for the wrong that I have done her in the past and recently. I would always pull from the past and throw it in her face when I felt she hurt me and she would do the same. We were malicious arguers. No more!! I forgive her and all that is in the past can stay in the past I can not wist a brighter past I can only work with what I have now at this moment and make it brighter. I feel alive right now, as if the first time I don’t have a heavy heart and bad feelings towards her about an argument.
T, I forgive you for all the things that i perceived as hurtful to me. I forgive you for all the angst and bitterness that I formed due to the words, And I forgive myself for the things I did to hurt you. I can now move ahead and not carry that load on my shoulders and work at being a better man, and if I can continue this journey with you then you can expect a better man by your side. I have always said sorry but I have never asked for forgiveness nor have I offered it until today.
I have read countless articles and blogs on forgiveness this past month, and I can honestly say that these five points have had the most impact. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. In the aftermath of infidelity I find myself loving and being loved more than I ever thought possible. Letting go of hurt is the most freeing gift we can give ourselves!
Love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. Forgiveness is the greatest choice we can make for ourselves. Forgiveness opens the way for love. Loving is forgiving.
Thank you, after reading the thoughts on your page, I know exactly what I have to do, sometimes reading the wisdom of others is all you need. Wish me luck in letting go and moving on, you may just have saved my marriage. Thank you again.
Your thoughts are true and to the point, its just that some times it is hard to deal with your emotions especially when you have given all of yourself and for no apparent reason your spirit is crushed. After reading your thoughts I have been helped to move on but more especially to forgive because the pain I felt had compelled me to wish the same on the individual. But I will pray about it and pray for them to never experience what they put me through.
Wow. I have been unable to find the words to describe this feeling I’ve been having sometimes during yoga or meditation. Nail on the head with this article & the final point particularly. As I allow my mind to work through its struggles I have been feeling the let go happening, it isn’t forgiveness, though it is the absence of the need for revenge. In such an absence I find my mind fills with gratitude & appreciation for the clear space in my thoughts where something resentful used to live. Thank you for your article & Keep writing 🙂
I needed something like this today…I’ve been carrying the burdens of the past and I need to let go..and work on myself. I have a lot to be thankful but circumstances blinded me, I wake up with sighs of burdens and I’m tired of it. I have been thinking that people and way of life of the past has rob me of living life to the fullest, but I understand now that I let myself do that to ME! I let myself be down by the things that has already gone and pass by. Thank you for this post.
Thanks for the wonderful words of healing. I’ve been carrying so much anger for a long time. I believe its about time that someone move away from blaming oneself and start forgiving completely.Thanks very much.