“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